Mayors of Major US Cities Visiting Israel, Exploring Areas for Bilateral Cooperation

November 11th, 2011


Media contact:
Myra Clark-Siegel, Director of Communications, Project Interchange, P: 310, 282-8080, ext. 308


Delegation to Israel through Project Interchange/AJC

(Jerusalem, Israel) A bi-partisan delegation of five mayors and senior staff of major American cities will visit Israel next week for intensive dialogue and briefings. The educational seminar, entirely sponsored by Project Interchange, an institute of the AJC, will run November 14-20 throughout Israel. The officials, mainly Mayors, but also comprising senior staffers, includes the Mayor of Houston, TX, the fourth largest city in the United States; the Mayor and Deputy Mayor of Miami-Dade County, FL, the eighth largest city in the U.S.; and mayors from across the United States, from Provo, Utah, to Cincinnati, OH to St. Paul, MN.

The seminar is intended to provide these policymakers with a first-hand understanding of Israel, its rich and dynamic society, and often-times complicated reality. The trip includes meetings with influential figures across Israel’s political and social spectrum, including senior Israeli, Palestinian, and Israeli Arab leaders.

The delegation will traverse much of Israel, including Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, the Northern border, the Dead Sea, and Sderot for a first-hand look at Israel, “beyond-and-through-the-headlines”. Discussion topics will range from sharing best practices on economic development and technology start-ups, environmental management and renewable energy, absorption and integration of immigrant communities to education, and city administration. All of these areas are issues facing the cities and communities the Mayors and senior staffers represent. Several sessions dealing with Israel’s strategic environment, diversity issues and inter-religious cooperation, are also on the agenda, including Israeli high-tech initiatives that foster effective co-existence between Jews and Arabs.

The delegation will observe how Israel balances the preservation of its heritage with modern municipal management, including energy and water management and the provision of social services, demonstrating the unique successes realized by Israeli cities and towns. The mayors will witness Arab-Jewish cooperation firsthand at the Arab-Jewish Community Center in Jaffa, travel to Ramallah to meet Palestinian Prime Minister Salaam Fayyad and tour Rawabi, the first planned Palestinian city.  They will learn about Israel’s humanitarian aid to developing countries at Save a Child’s Heart Foundation, while meetings will take place with clean-tech and high-tech companies to foster bilateral opportunities for collaboration and economic partnership. Elizabeth Planet, Assistant Executive Director of AJC, is also accompanying the delegation and blogging the experience:

Sam Witkin, Executive Director of Project Interchange, noted, “Project Interchange is tremendously pleased to host this delegation of prominent American mayors.” He added, “These officials represent a diverse set of constituencies from across the United States, but they share a common interest in job creation, high tech innovation, and immigrant issues. As these are key priorities for Israel as well, we hope participants will return home with a better sense of the similarities between their communities and those in Israel.”

Houston Mayor Annise Parker noted, “Houston and Israel have in common an entrepreneurial spirit and an appetite for innovation.” She continued, “I am looking forward to the opportunity to learn how we might be able to apply Israel’s model back in Houston.”

Mayor Carlos Gimenez of Miami-Dade County, FL said, “I’m excited to join fellow U.S. Mayors in Israel for what will undoubtedly be an informative and productive seminar.” He added, “Israel and South Florida share a strong bond, and I look forward to further strengthening our cultural ties and fostering new bilateral economic development opportunities that will positively impact Miami-Dade County.”

Cincinnati, OH, Mayor Mark Mallory stated, “I am looking forward to discussing business opportunities with Israeli leaders that will create jobs in Cincinnati.” He continued,”Israel is a world leader is several job sectors, including water technology and green industry.  Because I’m focused on economic development in those areas, I know this will be an extremely valuable trip.”

Mayor Chris Coleman, St. Paul, MN, said, “I am excited to participate in this program. Israel is an important part of the modern world, and I look forward to learning more about their economic and social approaches.”

Provo, UT, Mayor John Curtis noted, “We will see how Israel is dealing with education, economic development, city administration, energy and water management, technology start-ups, diversity issues, and inter-religious cooperation. The mayors of four other cities - Houston, Miami-Dade County, Cincinnati, and St. Paul will also be on the trip, and I look forward to comparing notes and learning from their experiences running their cities.”

Participants include:

Mayor Annise D. Parker, Mayor, Houston, Texas

Mayor Christopher B. Coleman, Mayor, St. Paul, Minnesota

Mayor John Curtis, Mayor, Provo, Utah

Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez, Mayor, Miami-Dade County, Florida

Mayor Mark Mallory, Mayor, Cincinnati, Ohio

Ryan Adcock, Director of Legislative Affairs, Cincinnati, Ohio

Helen Anderson, Chief Deputy of Communications, Provo, Utah

Jeremy Hanson Willis, Chief of Staff to the Mayor, Minneapolis, Minnesota

Warren Jimenez, Chief of Staff to the Mayor, Portland, Oregon

Jack Osterholt, Deputy Mayor, Miami-Dade County, Florida

About Project Interchange

Since 1982, Project Interchange, an institute of AJC, has brought over 5,500 civic, religious, media, business, high tech and university leaders from more than 65 countries to Israel, bringing to life the concept that, when it comes to understanding Israel, there is no substitute for first-hand experience. Project Interchange delivers exactly that to today’s most influential voices.