A bipartisan delegation of U.S. mayors is visiting Israel with AJC (American Jewish Committee) Project Interchange for intensive dialogue and briefings. The week-long educational seminar marks the first delegation under the auspices of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the U.S. Conference of Mayors and AJC, the highlight of which is an annual mayors’ delegation to Israel.

Organized by AJC Project Interchange, the seminar is designed to further enhance U.S.-Israel relations at the important municipal level. This delegation is chaired by Los Angeles, California Mayor Eric Garcetti. AJC CEO David Harris joined the Mayors’ Delegation for their opening dinner.

The seminar is intended to provide these policymakers with a first-hand understanding of Israel, dubbed the "Innovation Nation" for its economic and social entrepreneurship. The mayors will learn about Israel's vibrant democracy, diverse society, and regional challenges. They will meet with influential figures across the political and social spectrum, including Israel President Reuven Rivlin, U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, high-ranking government officials, leaders of Israel’s minority communities, and Jewish and Arab civil society leaders.

Importantly, the mayors will meet with their Israeli counterparts to discuss best practices for their home communities on smart city development, economic growth technology start-ups, urban revitalization, and city administration. The delegation also will observe how Israel balances the preservation of its heritage with modern municipal management and the provision of social services

“Los Angeles and Israel share so much – vibrant cultures, beautiful landscapes, diverse communities, ties of family and friends, our experiences as dreamers, and our common belief in democracy,” said Mayor Garcetti. “Our delegation is showing how cities lead on the world stage, how mayors get things done, and how urban centers can tackle everything from innovation and climate change to immigration and economic growth.”

"AJC has worked closely with mayors and municipal leaders for decades on issues of mutual concern," said Melanie Maron Pell, AJC Managing Director of Regional Offices, who is accompanying the delegation. “The mayors will learn a great deal about hi-tech and economic development, immigration absorption, diversity, and emergency services that will assist them in their governance of their respective cities." 

In addition to visiting significant historical and cultural sites, the delegation will visit Tel Aviv; Haifa; Israel's borders, including the Lebanese border; and Jerusalem, including the Old City. The delegation also will meet with Palestinian civic and business leaders in the Palestinian Authority, located in the West Bank. Several sessions dealing with Israel’s strategic environment, diversity and coexistence, and interreligious cooperation are on the agenda as well.

In 2017 and 2018, bipartisan delegations of U.S. mayors, also organized by AJC Project Interchange, visited Israel.  The new MoU, signed in January, formalizes and expands this cooperation.

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AJC Project Interchange: For over 35 years, AJC Project Interchange (American Jewish Committee) has brought 6,000 influential figures to Israel from 110+ countries and all 50 U.S. states, offering broad exposure and first-hand understanding of the complex issues facing Israel and the region. AJC Project Interchange has led numerous delegations of mayors to Israel from the U.S. and Europe. www.projectinterchange.org

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