Israeli Consulate to Remain in Philadelphia

Mayor Michael A. Nutter received a letter from Avigdor Liberman, Israel’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, informing him that Israel’s Consulate General in Philadelphia will remain open.  

It had been reported previously that a decision to close the Consulate General was under consideration. The letter was personally delivered to Mayor Nutter by Yaron Sideman, Consul General of Israel to the Mid-Atlantic Region, at a board meeting of the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia.

More after the jump.
Mayor Nutter said:

Today’s announcement by the Minister of Foreign Affairs is tremendously exciting for the City of Philadelphia, our Jewish community, and the Consulate General. I want to thank Minister Liberman for his decision.

The Consulate General of Israel in Philadelphia plays a tremendously important role in supporting our Jewish community and the strong business relationships that exist between Israel and Philadelphia.  

Preserving the consulate in Philadelphia was a true team effort involving the Consulate General, the Jewish Federation, Philadelphia-Israeli Chamber of Commerce, American Jewish Committee and elected officials at all levels of government. I would like to thank everyone involved.  

Congratulations to Consul General Yaron Sideman and the Jewish community in Philadelphia.


Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter and Tel-Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai.

Last month Mayor Nutter traveled to Israel with a delegation of community and business leaders to strengthen ties between the Philadelphia region and the State of Israel. The delegation stayed in Philadelphia’s Sister City of Tel Aviv-Yafo and was hosted by Mayor Ron Huldai.

The potential closure of the consulate was high on the Mayor’s agenda, and he raised concerns about the possibility with Prime Minister Netanyahu, President Peres, U.S. Ambassador Shapiro, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mayor Huldai of Tel Aviv and Mayor Birkat of Jerusalem.  

A wide range of Philadelphia and Pennsylvania elected officials also expressed similar concerns to the Israeli government about the impact of the closure of the consulate.

In his letter to Mayor Nutter, Minister Liberman highlighted the success of the Mayor’s trade mission, the strength of the relationship between Philadelphia and Tel Aviv, and the values shared between the Philadelphia region and the State of Israel.

Consul General Yaron Sideman said:

I laud the tireless efforts made by Mayor Nutter and so many others to keep the Consulate open, efforts that bore fruit in the form of this exciting news.

It is now up to all of us to roll up our sleeves and continue with the task of working together to strengthen the ties between Israel and Philadelphia. The many partnerships that have emerged as a result of the recent the Mayor led trip to Israel are a perfect starting point.

Kerry: I Came to Israel “Without Any Illusions About the Difficulties”

Secretary of State John Kerry spoke about the Israeli-Arab peace talks at the memorial for Israel’s former prime minister, Itzhak Rabin:

I come here without any illusions about the difficulties, but I come here determined to work with leaders — with the Prime Minister, with the President of the Palestinian Authority — to try to find a way forward so that Israel can live the dream that President Peres and Prime Minister Rabin expressed so eloquently and beautifully in the tragedy of that day here and in many days before that. We will continue to work, and I can promise Israelis that America will stand by the side of Israel every step of the way.

During the ceremony, a protest was held, opposing the release of dozens of jailed Arab terrorists as a precondition for starting the peace talks.

Full remarks after the jump.
Kerry: It’s a great privilege for me and always a sad moment to come to remember the memory of a great man, a great general, a great prime minister, a great leader, a great man of peace. And one can hear his booming voice saying the words — the famous words — “We are destined to live together.”  

Here, just moments before his life was taken and the possibilities of peace were disrupted through an act of violence, he stood up on that balcony with his friend, Shimon Peres, and together, they sang, “Don’t whisper a prayer. Sing a song of peace in a loud voice.” We are now 18 years since that moment, and it is clear that we need voices ready to sing a song of peace loudly, with courage, with the same determination that Prime Minister Rabin showed in his quest for peace. He dared to take the risks for peace because he believed not just that it was important for the sake of peace, but that it was vital for the security and future of Israel, and of the region.

Eighteen years is important because I am told that 18 is important in the Proverbs — the 18th Proverb, it says that “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” Death and life in the power of the tongue. So what we say with our voices, how we talk about peace, how we prepare the possibilities of peace are really critical to all of us. We need to avoid incitement. We need to sing that song that Prime Minister Rabin and President Peres embraced together.  

Eighteen is also, I am told, very important in Hebrew, because the letters that write the word “eighteen” literally mean life, hayyim. I remember shouting those words once from the top of Masada in my first visit to the Holy Land. And we stood up there and together, as a group, we shouted across the chasm, “(In Hebrew), hayyim.”  Those words meant something to me. And so maybe 18, maybe the word hayyim in life will have a special meaning at this particular moment.  

The Proverbs also teach us L’chaim. That’s something we now need to put into practice. So I come here without any illusions about the difficulties, but I come here determined to work with leaders — with the Prime Minister, with the President of the Palestinian Authority — to try to find a way forward so that Israel can live the dream that President Peres and Prime Minister Rabin expressed so eloquently and beautifully in the tragedy of that day here and in many days before that.  

We will continue to work, and I can promise Israelis that America will stand by the side of Israel every step of the way. We believe this is something that is possible, that is good for all, and that it can be achieved. And I will leave here inspired by being here with Dalia and with members of the family, most importantly by seeing the symbolism of the turbulence, the earthquake that followed that moment of violence. It should rededicate every person in Israel with the possibility of a just and appropriate and fair peace which protects the security of Israel, guarantees that Israel’s security will be protected, but makes possible for people to live the words of the prime minister, “We are destined to live together,” I add, in peace. Thank you.

Tel Aviv’s mayor, Ron Huldai: We appreciate the fact that you took the time to begin your visit here in Tel Aviv, the center of Israeli democracy. In this spot, Prime Minister of Israel Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated because of his quest for peace. From here, he spoke. We want to tell you, Mr. Secretary, that the people of Israel and the city of Tel Aviv, therefore, want peace. And the person who will manage to bring peace, will receive our highest appreciation, and it is true.  

So I wish you and all of us good luck in this challenging mission. Thank you, Mr. Secretary.  

Kerry: Thank you, Mr. Mayor.

Rabin’s daughter, Dalia Rabin-Pelossof: Mr. Secretary, Mayor of Tel Aviv, ambassadors of Israel to Washington and Ambassador Dan Shapiro, Ambassador Martin Indyk, and all the staff that joins you, I really appreciate and I am moved — the fact that you came to this painful and tragic spot in Tel Aviv where his life was taken brutally 18 years ago. It’s very symbolic that you came here. It’s the 5th of November.  Yesterday, we marked the 18th anniversary.  

And we all wish you all the best because everybody that stands here understand that this is the only way, his way, that maybe was a little ahead of his time, but 18 years is enough time that has passed by, and it’s time to make peace between Israelis and the Palestinians. We wish you luck and we keep our fingers crossed. And thank you so much for coming over here. (Applause.)