Israeli-Latino renaissance


Read the Spanish translation below.

One day this week, you’ll find me on a yacht in Marina del Rey along with dozens of Jewish and Latino activists, celebrities and politicians from across the Southland. Fiesta Shalom at Sea, an initiative of the Israeli Consulate, aims to strengthen the bonds between the diverse communities of Southern California and the State of Israel — community leaders, elected officials and clergy will connect with Israeli and Jewish leaders to deepen the dialogue leading to mutual understanding of the issues facing our communities. That’s why a version of this same column will appear in Spanish in La Opinion and in Hebrew-language newspapers as well.

The Jewish and Latino communities in the United States — particularly in Los Angeles — have made great strides in building bridges and forging relationships in recent years. As we look ahead to the future, it is worthwhile to reflect on the broader historical context of this very important trend.

Underpinning the re-emergence of Israel as a sovereign Jewish nation-state in the 20th century has been a rich intellectual legacy tracing its roots to antiquity. Just as the roots of the Renaissance lay in Latin and in the intellectual achievements inherited from the long-vanished Roman Empire, so too do the roots of modern Israeli society and culture lie in the revival of Hebrew and the resplendent heritage accumulated over the millennia of Jewish history.

Notably, a significant part of the latter heritage can be traced back to Spain. The “Golden Age” of Jewish history on the Iberian Peninsula during the 10th to 12th centuries saw a blossoming of Jewish creativity, exemplified by towering intellectual figures such as Maimonides, Judah Halevi and many others. Tragically, this period of relative tolerance and prosperity was later overshadowed by the Spanish Inquisition and ultimate expulsion of Spanish Jewry in 1492.

Not until the 20th century did the consummating act of this historical drama play out, when Latin American countries stood by the Jewish people at a critical juncture, constituting 40 percent of those countries who supported the U.N. partition resolution of November 1947, which later paved the way toward the establishment of the State of Israel. Instrumental both in the U.N. committee that proposed the resolution and in the process through which it was passed, the Spanish-speaking countries, whose forebears had long before fostered the flourishing of Jewish life and thought on the Iberian Peninsula, played a key role in supporting the 20th century reinstatement of Jewish independence.

This support did not appear out of a vacuum. It reflected an age-old heritage of shared values touching on the very core of each group’s collective psyche. Jewish and Spanish-speaking peoples have traditionally prioritized close family ties, education and the importance of maintaining cultural identity throughout the generations. Itself an immigrant society, modern Israel exemplifies what can be achieved by immigrant groups in a relatively short time. Moreover, with a strong predilection toward maintaining a robust welfare state, Israeli society has traditionally placed great emphasis on ensuring a very significant role for organized labor.

Since its establishment 65 years ago, Israel has undergone very rapid social, cultural and economic development. From a primarily agricultural economy of several hundred thousand people, we are now an OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) country of 8 million, ranking among the world’s top economies in high-tech startups, innovation, competitiveness, venture capital and countless other measures of technological and economic vitality. An integral part of this process and key to its success has been an openness to new ideas and intercultural enrichment both in terms of Israel’s internal social fabric and international collaborations. We have learned much from this process and believe it to be applicable to other countries and communities around the world who face similar challenges.

This is why we are intent on mobilizing social innovations, which have proved successful in Israel in ways that can be beneficial elsewhere. We firmly believe in the mutual benefits of exchange of know-how and expertise, anchored in shared values. Like the many other democracies in the world, Israel owes a historical debt of gratitude to the United States for serving as an enduring beacon of liberty and democracy. Moreover, the diverse spectrum of social innovation in the United States is an invaluable source of inspiration for addressing similar challenges in Israel.

By the same token, collaborations in the field of social innovation have great potential to positively impact Latino and other communities in the United States. For example, educational models developed in Israel could prove to be especially useful vehicles for increasing matriculation rates and expanding social mobility, as they have done in Israel. The nonprofit health sector in Israel has also given rise to unique models that supplement mainstream health services in ways that could prove useful in America. As a place where ethnic diversity is celebrated, Israel has learned much in the domain of immigrant absorption and integration. 

Working jointly on such issues can serve as a key area for meaningful cooperation. Tellingly, such processes of intercultural enrichment have underpinned many past flowerings of intellectual and artistic achievement, such as the first Golden Age of Judeo-Spanish relations.

Thus, when Israel reflects on its relations with the Spanish-speaking world and with Latino communities in the United States, this is the overarching historical context. We wish to develop and deepen these relationships and build lasting and meaningful cooperation as a matter of renewal, harkening back to a romantic Golden Age that we not only nostalgically recall, but whose enduring intellectual and cultural legacy we continue to cherish to this day. For Israel, it is about coming full circle and expressing appreciation for having stood shoulder to shoulder with us when we most needed it and for having been party to one of the most illustrious chapters in our history as a people. It is about saying thank you, todah, gracias.

Because, after all, we are all in the same boat. 


Renacimiento israelí-latino

Se han dado grandes pasos a lo largo de los años para crear relaciones y tender puentes entre la comunidad judía y latina en Estados Unidos, particularmente en Los Ángeles. Israel y los países de América Latina también han promovido relaciones muy cercanas en las últimas décadas. A medida que miramos hacia el futuro, vale la pena reflexionar sobre el contexto histórico más amplio de estas importantes tendencias.

Promover el resurgimiento de un estado-nación judío soberano en el siglo XX ha sido un rico legado intelectual que tiene sus raíces en la antigüedad. El tejido socioeconómico, cultural y político de Israel siempre se ha visto fuertemente afectado por los valores y los tesoros culturales heredados de las antiguas mancomunidades judías. En muchos sentidos, el proceso de renovación que Israel representa nos recuerda al Renacimiento europeo. Este último surgió en Florencia en el siglo XIV en un auge de creatividad artística, científica y filosófica que fue acompañado de una transformación social y en última instancia política. Así como las raíces del Renacimiento se basan en el latín y en los logros intelectuales heredados del Imperio Romano, desaparecido hace largo tiempo, las raíces de la sociedad y cultura moderna israelí también se basan en el renacimiento del hebreo y en la resplandeciente herencia acumulada durante miles de años de historia del pueblo judío.

Vale la pena destacar que una parte considerable de la herencia del pueblo judío tiene sus orígenes en España. La “Era de Oro” de la historia del pueblo judío en la Península Ibérica entre los siglos X y XII fue testigo del florecimiento de la creatividad judía, ejemplificado en destacadas figuras intelectuales como Maimónides, Yehuda Halevi y muchos otros. Trágicamente, este período de relativa tolerancia y prosperidad quedó ensombrecido más tarde por la Inquisición española y la expulsión final de los judíos españoles en 1492. Este acto de gran dramatismo histórico no se terminó de consumar hasta el siglo XX, cuando los países latinoamericanos defendieron al pueblo judío en una coyuntura muy difícil, siendo parte del 40% de aquellos países que apoyó la resolución de partición de la ONU celebrada en noviembre de 1947, que más tarde allanaría el camino para el establecimiento del Estado de Israel. Con una actuación decisiva, tanto en el comité de la ONU que propuso la resolución como en el proceso por el cual dicha resolución fue aprobada, los países hispanohablantes, cuyos antepasados habían promovido mucho tiempo atrás el florecimiento de la vida y las ideas judías en la Península Ibérica, jugaron un papel clave para apoyar el reestablecimiento de la independencia judía en el siglo XX. 

Este apoyo no surgió de la nada. Fue consecuencia de la larga herencia de valores compartidos que habitan en el centro de la psiquis colectiva de cada grupo. El pueblo judío y los pueblos hispanohablantes han priorizado tradicionalmente los lazos familiares, la educación y la importancia de mantener la identidad cultural a lo largo de las generaciones. El propio Israel moderno, como sociedad de inmigrantes, ejemplifica lo que los grupos de inmigrantes pueden lograr en un período de tiempo relativamente corto. Asimismo, con una fuerte predilección por mantener un sólido estado de bienestar, la sociedad israelí ha hecho tradicionalmente mucho énfasis en garantizar un papel clave a las estructuras sindicales. 

Desde su establecimiento hace 65 años, Israel ha experimentado un rápido desarrollo social, cultural y económico. De una economía básicamente agrícola compuesta por varios cientos de miles de personas, ahora pasamos a ser un país de la Organización para la Cooperación y el Desarrollo Económico (OCDE) con 8 millones de habitantes, siendo una de las principales economías del mundo en emprendimientos de alta tecnología, innovación, competitividad, capital de riesgo e innumerables medidas para la vitalidad tecnológica y económica. Una parte integral de este proceso que ha sido clave para su éxito es la apertura a las nuevas ideas y el enriquecimiento intercultural, tanto en términos del tejido social interno de Israel como la colaboración internacional. Hemos aprendido mucho de este proceso y creemos que es aplicable a otros países y comunidades del mundo que se enfrentan a desafíos semejantes. 

Es por eso que buscamos promover las innovaciones sociales, que han probado ser tan exitosas en Israel, de manera que puedan ser beneficiosas en otros sitios. Creemos firmemente en los beneficios mutuos del intercambio de conocimientos y experiencia, basados en valores compartidos. Como muchas otras democracias del mundo, Israel tiene una gran deuda histórica de gratitud hacia Estados Unidos por servir como un sólido estandarte de libertad y democracia. Asimismo, el diverso espectro de innovación social en Estados Unidos es una fuente invalorable de inspiración para atender desafíos semejantes en Israel.

Del mismo modo, la colaboración en el ámbito de la innovación social tiene un gran potencial de generar un impacto positivo en la comunidad latina y demás comunidades en Estados Unidos. Por ejemplo, los modelos educativos desarrollados en Israel pueden ser vehículos especialmente útiles para aumentar los índices de matriculación y ampliar la movilidad social, como lo hicieron en Israel. El sector de atención de la salud sin fines de lucro en Israel también ha generado modelos muy originales que complementan los servicios de salud masivos de este país en diversas maneras que también pueden ser útiles en Estados Unidos. Como un país donde se celebra la diversidad étnica, Israel ha aprendido mucho en lo que respecta a la absorción e integración de los inmigrantes. 

Trabajar en colaboración sobre estos temas puede ser un aspecto clave para la cooperación significativa. Claramente estos procesos de enriquecimiento intercultural han sido la base de muchos otros auges intelectuales y artísticos del pasado, como la primera “Era de Oro” de las relaciones entre judíos y españoles. 

Por lo tanto, cuando Israel reflexiona sobre sus relaciones con el mundo hispanohablante y con las comunidades latinas en Estados Unidos, este el contexto histórico general. Deseamos establecer y profundizar estas relaciones para generar una colaboración duradera y significativa como manera de renovación, evocando la “Era de Oro”, que no solamente recordamos con nostalgia, pero cuyo legado intelectual y cultural continuamos valorando al día de hoy. Para Israel se trata de completar el círculo y expresar nuestra gratitud por habernos apoyado y trabajado codo a codo con nosotros cuando más lo necesitábamos, siendo actores clave en unos de los capítulos más ilustres de nuestra historia como pueblo. Se trata de decir todah, gracias.


David Siegel serves as the consul general of Israel to the Southwest United States.

Peres the prophet


This story has been updated with a correction.

When Shimon Peres appeared at the Beverly Hilton on March 8 before an audience of more than 1,000 Israel supporters, the Israeli president received two standing ovations — before he even uttered a single word.

Peres had just established his own Facebook page at the social networking company’s Bay Area headquarters the day before, and he had a solid schedule of events ahead of him in the Southland. Over the next four days, Peres would meet with some of Los Angeles’ most influential leaders, with a special focus on members of the entertainment industry and the burgeoning Latino community.

Coming at the tail end of a nationwide tour, the 88-year-old Nobel laureate delivered his message of peace and unity to Los Angeles and won fans among every audience he encountered — including some who hadn’t always seen eye to eye with Peres.

“Personally, when he was a political leader, I didn’t agree with many of his political positions,” Rabbi Marvin Hier, the dean and founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, said. “But today, as president of Israel, he has fulfilled that role in an amazing manner.”

Because Israel’s government is a parliamentary democracy, its leader is the prime minister. Peres has twice filled that role, but today, as president, he is a head of state and represents the Israeli people in a largely ceremonial role, not unlike the queen of England.

In his remarks that Thursday evening to a ballroom packed with members and leaders of Jewish and pro-Israel organizations, Peres gave diplomatic and thoughtful responses to questions that would have been difficult for a less-accomplished statesman to answer.

And while his onstage interview with former CNN anchor Campbell Brown ranged across a variety of topics, it seemed that when the conversation veered toward something overtly political, Peres often demurred, proffering points of general agreement and less controversial observations instead.

“Like all processes, it has problems,” Peres said in response to one question about the seemingly distant prospects for peace between Israel and the Palestinians. “But that’s not a reason to give up the hope.”

Even so, a number of Peres’ statements that evening appeared to be, in tone at least, different from the party line of the current Israeli government — most notably when he expressed a preference for Israel and the United States to allow time for the sanctions against Iran to work before taking any military action against the country’s nuclear facilities.

“I think the president [Obama] made it clear that he will not compromise on the issue of Iran,” Peres said in his characteristic patient cadence, sounding more in line with the American president’s preference for a non-violent resolution to the conflict than with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s assertions that Israel must reserve the right to defend itself.

“It’s a danger to all of the world, not just to Israel,” Peres continued, “and I think that while everyone is looking for differences, the basis is common and agreed.”

The Angelenos Peres met over his four days in the city were thrilled to have him in town, particularly the Israeli-Americans. “He’s one of the biggest leaders Israel had in its history, and it was very important to be part of his historic visit in L.A.,” Sagi Balasha, CEO of the Israeli Leadership Council, said.

The audience may have been content to allow Peres to suggest that there was general agreement between the United States and Israel on the Iranian nuclear threat. In fact, the elements made public of the meetings Peres and Netanyahu each had with Obama earlier in the week, as well as the three leaders’ speeches at the annual American Israel Political Action Committee (AIPAC) policy conference, revealed significant differences in the situations that could trigger either an American or an Israeli strike on Iran.

Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, who attended the March 8 event, took note of Peres’ comparatively generous approach to the current American administration.

Peres “can come in and speak eloquently of Barack Obama, which no Israeli governmental leader is doing, frankly, because he doesn’t have to be as political as when he was in politics,” said Yaroslavsky, who first met Peres in 1991.

From left: Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Israeli President Shimon Peres and Consul General David Siegel attend a March 8 event hosted by the Jewish community, the Consulate General of Israel and The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles.

Historically, there have been Israeli presidents who have served while the Knesset was controlled by a prime minister from the opposing party. But according to David Myers, a UCLA professor of Jewish history, none of those presidents had Peres’ political heft.

Peres “has played the role [of president] pretty well, doing as best he possibly can to avoid trampling the toes of his prime minister,” Myers said.

But although Peres might be nudging the customary boundaries of his position, Myers said that in the face of a possible Israeli pre-emptive strike against Iranian nuclear facilities, an action whose consequences are largely unpredictable, the Israeli president might consider taking even more drastic action.

“Whether or not it would be better for Peres to step out of the role and assert his opinion on this important issue is a reasonable question to ask,” he added. Myers said he had been invited to Peres’ Thursday evening appearance, but hadn’t been able to attend.

The event was organized by The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles and the Israeli Consulate and was co-sponsored by six other community groups, including the Israeli Leadership Conference (ILC) and StandWithUs, an Israel advocacy and education group.

In its work advocating on behalf of Israel, StandWithUs often stakes out positions that lie closer to the hawkish side of the political spectrum. CEO Roz Rothstein, who praised Peres’ speech as “extremely profound” and approvingly Tweeted a few of Peres’ remarks as he was delivering them, said she saw the message he was delivering as consistent with her organization’s.

She pointed to the video released on March 4, “Be My Friend for Peace,” which remixes remarks by Peres with a techno beat.

“Be my friend for peace, I want to hear your voice,” Peres says in the video, which was viewed 188,000 times in its first eight days on YouTube. “Be my friend, share peace. Speak up and change the world.”

“He’s saying that peace is possible, but you have to have a partner on the other side,” Rothstein said. “Between the lines, he’s asking for a partnership. That’s the way I read it.”

Nearly all who heard Peres welcomed his focus on the future — even those whose left-leaning politics led them to fondly recall the days when Peres was still involved in governing Israel. “I only wish that he had more influence in the halls of power,” said Rabbi Joshua Levine Grater of the Pasadena Jewish Temple & Center and a member of J Street’s Rabbinic Cabinet. “Israel certainly needs his wisdom, honesty and calm presence in these most difficult and trying times,” Grater added.

Not all who came in contact with Peres were looking for the Israeli president to venture beyond his traditional, strictly ceremonial role.

“When President Peres wanders into the territory of war, peace and politics, it is painfully apparent he has not learned from his mistakes,” Orit Arfa, executive director of the Zionist Organization of America’s western region, wrote in a statement e-mailed after his March 8 speech. “He continues to promote his failed vision of a ‘two-state solution’ and ‘land for peace.’ The President refuses to admit the truth that Mahmoud Abbas and the Fatah Party are no better than Hamas.”

Most of those who encountered Peres in Los Angeles welcomed his optimistic message and were inclined to believe that his statements were aligned with their own political positions.

At Peres’ final event of the Los Angeles visit, a breakfast on March 11 for about 120 political, religious and business leaders, most of the attendees were from the region’s Latino community.

Among the Jewish leaders present, in addition to staff from the Israeli consulate, were representatives from The Federation, American Jewish Committee (AJC) and AIPAC, as well as many people who participated in a summit for Latino and Jewish leaders last September.

Israeli Deputy Consul General Gil Artzyeli, who will return to Israel this summer after four years in Los Angeles, dedicated a great deal of his time and energy to building bridges between the Jewish and Latino communities here.

The developing alliance between Latinos and Jews in Los Angeles was the subject of a Jewish Journal cover story last March, and looking around the well-secured room on an upper floor of the Beverly Hilton, Rabbi Randy Brown, assistant director of interreligious and intergroup relations with AJC, noted just how broad-based the coalition building effort has become. “It’s theological; it’s commerce; it’s political; it’s human relations — all in the same room,” he said.

During the question-and-answer session, Pastor Carlos Ortiz, the national Hispanic coordinator for Christians United for Israel (CUFI), asked Peres what members of his community could do for the Jewish people, “today and in the future.”

CUFI, which counts more than 950,000 members across the country, was founded by Pastor John Hagee of San Antonio, Tex., who also founded John Hagee Ministries, which has contributed over $60 million to charitable causes across Israel. Those donations primarily support organizations operating in Israel, but a small number—in 2006, a JTA report estimated about five percent – of the organization’s funding goes to support Jewish settlements in the West Bank. A sports complex in Ariel, a city-sized settlement in the West Bank, is named in Hagee’s honor.

“We used to live on the land,” the Nobel laureate said, beginning a lengthy, somewhat circuitous answer to Ortiz’s question. “The land was something tangible, measurable. We divided pieces of land; most of the wars in history were because of land.

“Now,” Peres continued, “we make our living not out of the land, but out of science.”

Peres concluded his response by asking Ortiz to “build your contribution, your togetherness and your relationship.”

“He really wrapped it up at the end,” Ortiz said after the event. “He said the best thing you can do is unite.” And while uniting might not be possible in some other countries, Ortiz said, it is a freedom available to him as an American.

“Right here, we can unite,” he said, “that’s why we are Christians United for Israel.”

If what Ortiz heard was Peres calling for more unity, the single most common observation made about Peres during his visit had to do with his preternatural optimism.

“Peres is a wise man,” Rabbi Ed Feinstein of Valley Beth Shalom said after the March 8 event. “He’s lived a great deal of our history, and he’s reflected deeply on what history has taught us. His refusal to succumb to pessimism and cynicism is remarkable. That’s the prophet in him — the ability to continue to hope, to envision peace, to demand better of us.”

Community Briefs


Peres Pays Visit to Southland

In addition to celebrating his 80th birthday, former Israeli Prime Minister and Nobel Peace Prize-winner Shimon Peres spoke with members of the Los Angeles Jewish community on two separate occasions this week.

Peres’ first speaking engagement took place at Stephen S. Wise Temple on Sunday, Oct. 13 and was sponsored in part by Israel Freedom of Religion in an effort to gain support for a bill currently awaiting review by the Knesset that would require the Israeli government to acknowledge practices — such as marriage and burial — performed by rabbis in non-Orthodox streams of Judaism, in addition to those performed in a civil ceremony.

“It is vital for the future of the Jewish people to have greater numbers,” Rabbi Isaiah Zeldin said.

Michael Milken introduced Peres to the audience of nearly 1,000 people, including distinguished guests and American heroes in Israel’s War of Independence Lou Leonard and Al Schwimmer.

“When Prime Minister Peres speaks tonight I suggest that you listen closely because it will give you a chance to think about the future,” Milken said. “Every time I hear him speak I gain insight, I gain energy and I gain a better view of what the future holds and the opportunities available for those that have an opportunity to experience his knowledge of eight decades.”

That sentiment was apparent at the Jewish Federation on Tuesday, Oct. 14, where leaders of the Jewish community listened as Peres spoke about current events in Israel and possibilities for the future.

Peres greeted his audience with both good and bad news. The good news, he said, “is that the Palestinian society is moving to become a democratic one, that the U.S. has become Israel’s immediate neighbor in Iraq and that Israel had finally achieved ideological unity.”

“After 25 years of refusing the right wing of Israeli politics, the Likud party, we’ve reached the conclusion that we cannot go on without a Palestinian state,” Peres said.

The bad news, Peres said, is that Israel continues to face many challenges, including the continued threat of terrorism and a weak economy.

Despite difficulties, Peres noted that he hopes the peace process will continue.

“In 55 years we’ve had so many problems, but we are the only nation that grew in problems of war,” Peres said. “Every time we become stronger and stronger and larger and larger because you should never give up.”

He also made a plea to leaders to invest in Israeli science and technology.

“Israel in the future means two things: peace and science,” Peres said. “Let’s sail, not to the unknown, but to a promising future.” — Rachel Brand, Staff Writer

AJC Meet With Mormon Elder a Rarity

As befits an ice-breaker, the mood was warm when members of the American Jewish Committee (AJC) met Elder Jeffrey Holland, a leader of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or the Mormons, on Sept. 22.

Holland is one of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, which together with church President Gordon B. Hinckley and his two closest counselors make up the leadership of the 12-million member church. AJC organizers said the appearance by so senior a member of the church hierarchy was rare, if not unprecedented, in the L.A. Jewish community.

The tall, charismatic Holland used the opportunity to recount the amity Mormons feel toward Jews, even if that sense of closeness has not always been reciprocated. Mormons see their own flight across the western United States in the early 19th century as a continuation of the Exodus story. Their Christianity has held fast to the Bible’s Jewish roots, he said.

Holland said the scriptural appreciation has echoed throughout history. Two of the earliest Jewish mayors and governors in the American West were Jews elected in Utah, a Mormon state.

And Mormons have been staunch Zionists, Holland added. A Mormon missionary who arrived in Jerusalem in 1841 wrote a prayer for the church liturgy on the return of Jews to Zion.

“Let them come like clouds and like doves to the window,” Holland quoted. “Let them know it is Thy good pleasure to restore them to Israel.”

Holland also quoted David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s first prime minister, as telling a church elder, “No Christian organization in the world understands us like the Mormons.”

The warm relationship turned rockier when Holland, then-president of Brigham Young University, sought to open a satellite student center in Jerusalem. The effort brought stiff opposition from mainly religious Jews who suspected the Mormons of using the center as a base for proselytizing. Only the staunch support of Jerusalem’s then-mayor Teddy Kollek saw the project through, and no charges of proselytizing have been leveled since. — Staff Report

L.A. Businesses Encouraged to Connect With TelAviv

Two Tel Aviv University MBA students recently returned to Israel after spending the summer under the mentorship of various Los Angeles business and government leaders as part of the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles’ Community Redevelopment Fellowship.

The new program, sponsored by the Economic Initiatives Committee of the Tel Aviv-Los Angeles Partnership, is part of an effort called Genesis L.A., which hopes to bring about the redevelopment of neighborhoods in Jaffa and south Tel Aviv via the exchange of public/private financing tools and urban development methodology.

Over the course of seven weeks the students, Aviad Arviv and Michael Gofman, interned at the Milken Institute, met with experts in real estate development, tax incentives, business improvement districts, low-income housing development, enterprise finance, the arts and transportation, and visited a range of Los Angeles redevelopment sites.

“Israel’s economy is in the dumpster and we have to do what we can to attract non-Israeli money to induce foreign flow of capital into Israel for redevelopment,” said Michael Schwartz, a partner at George Smith Partners, who created an intensified training program to give the fellows an overview of the real estate finance industry.

Glenn Yago, outgoing chair of the Economic Initiatives Committee, said that the program is only one of several initiatives that the group has spearheaded in the Jaffa area as part of Genesis Tel Aviv. Based on the model used in Los Angeles after the riots, other projects have included issuing revenue bonds to finance public parking structures in Tel Aviv and environmental rehabilitation of the HaYarkon River. — RB