To Tel Aviv and Beyond

Consul General of Israel to New England, Yehuda Yaakov

Finally. After nearly 30 years, this coming Sunday we welcome the return of regular, non-stop flights between Logan and Ben Gurion airports. And while there is not a doubt in my mind that these flights will further energize the already robust ties that exist between New England and Israel, the truth is — our two regions were committed to one another even in the absence of direct flights, building first and foremost upon shared values.

During the month of June, we have experienced a handful of examples of this, three of which I would like to share with you.

A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of attending a Sox game with a group of IDF veterans. They were hosted by a locally supported program geared towards helping recently injured Israeli combat soldiers piece their lives back together until they are able to once again lead contributive lives.

Their visit included a trip to Gillette Stadium, where they met and exchanged experiences with their American counterparts. It was an inspiring example of friendship and an empowering testament to the importance of democratic values and the willingness — often painful — to fight for them.

I was again reminded of our similarities when I stopped by the Massachusetts State House last week for a performance by the Jerusalem Youth Chorus. The group is comprised of talented Israelis — Arab and Jewish — aiming to become leaders in their communities by engaging in productive dialogue and spreading their message world-wide.

I found it fitting to listen to their harmonies and message of coexistence as their voices filled one of America’s original symbols of freedom and tolerance.

And last, but most definitely not least, this past week Israel has been honored by the Boston Gay Men’s Chorus Middle East Tour. The friendship shown by the chorus was instantly reciprocated by a warm reception from Israel’s equally diverse and tolerant population in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Ein Gedi.

hese three examples are but a glimpse into the proud moments that regularly characterize New England-Israel ties, and I am certain that beginning on Sunday, these moments will multiply tenfold.

I want to take this opportunity to wish our Muslim friends a warm “Ramadan Kareem” and a very Happy July 4th to all in New England. Have a wonderful summer!

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