Israel Prime Minister Ehud Olmert encouraged
to visit San Francisco
Visit to San Francisco by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert would be
with Israel new direction, Consul General David Akov notes as
is proclaimed Israel and Jewish Heritage Day in San Francisco.
At right, Acting Mayor Aaron Peskin formalizes the proclamation.
May 4, 2006
By Pat Murphy
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert will visit San Francisco if
Olmert follows advice of the local Israeli Consul General.
Olmert is set to present his new government within days and signaling
a visit to a Sister City considered of major importance to Israel
culturally and economically would be in keeping with Olmert's
new direction for Israel, David Akov told the Sentinel.
"I will personally encourage him to come," Akov pledged
following ceremonial raising of the Israel Flag at San Francisco
City Hall. And encourage Mayor Gavin Newsom to visit Israel.
Akov serves as the Israeli Consul General for Northern California
and was present as May 3 was proclaimed Israel and Jewish Heritage
Day in San Francisco by Acting Mayor Aaron Peskin.
San Francisco has a large Jewish and Israeli community with the
region acknowledged as the "high tech capitol of the world,"
Akov told those gathered.
"This is also a symbolic day for us because there is a new
government in Israel that will be presented in Israel in a couple
"This is a new direction in Israel. We are looking for new
ways to give content to the relations between San Francisco and
Israel - to think of new ideas for the Sister City Agreement.
"We hope there will be a visit by the mayor next year or
maybe the year after.
"We certainly hope the prime minister will come."
Peskin, whose mother emigrated from Israel to the United States
in 1963, recalled historic ties between San Francisco and Israel.
"The contributions of not only of the Jewish community but
also by the Israeli community for San Francisco and for the United
States of America are legion," said Peskin.
"San Francisco and Israel have a long standing relationship.
"Our seventh Sister City was Haifa, in 1973, some 33 years
ago, and relations between the State of Israel and the City and
County of San Francisco are something that we are very proud of.
"I am joined by the esteemed Consul General for the Pacific
Northwest Region David Akov.
"To you and to the State of Israel and on behalf of Mayor
Gavin Newsom to acknowledge your good work as we lift the flag
of Israel and resolve that the City and County of San Francisco
does hereby proclaim May 3 as Israel and Jewish Heritage day in
San Francisco," Peskin stated.
For his part, Akrov described the San Francisco Jewish and Israeli
community as unique in its understanding of Israeli issues.
"I want to say this is a very special city and I think it
has a really special relationship to the State of Israel.
"It started long ago and it has an even brighter future.
"It is known all over the country that this is one of the
strongest, maybe also the largest, Jewish communities here in
the City and the whole Bay Area.
"The connection to Israel is very immediate and direct and
is very important to Israel.
"This community is really like no other in terms of understanding
the real issues in Israel and trying to help and tackle these
"This area being the high tech capitol of the world also
has a very special meaning to Israel.
"We have Israeli companies who are based here and it also
something that is crucial to our economy and our future,"
San Francisco Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White, recently returned
from Israel for sharing of disaster preparedness, joined the ceremony.
Israeli Consul General David Akov hears of San Francisco Fire
Joanne Hayes-White's trip to Israel to study disaster preparedness.
She was struck by emphasis Israel places on human observation
despite state-of-the-art airport security technology.
"The one thing that I was most impressed by... is the common
theme that technology is only one aspect," reported Hayes-White.
"The human element of interrogating and interviewing and
making that eye contact was emphasized every step of the way.
"I particularly was interested in how the mass casualties
were taken care of.
"We had a full-scale exercise in a high school where they
actually had a terrorist attack.
"They took us through the decontamination procedure prior
to the arrival of hospital personnel."
As the ceremony began Peskin spoke a few words in Hebrew which
Peskin later chortled roughly meant, "Happy Holiday of the
National Day 58."
Israel celebrates its 58th birthday on May 14.
"His accent actually wasn't too bad," Akov whispered
an understanding heart.