Daniel Kutner Speaks at JCL’s Annual Meeting

[Archived from June 5, 2009]

[by Shiela Steinman Wallace]

Israel’s Consul General from the Philadelphia office, Daniel Kutner, spoke at the Jewish Community of Louisville Annual Meeting on Monday, June 29, at the Jewish Community Center. He brought greetings to the Louisville Jewish community and provided an update on the situation in Israel.

Kutner said the Middle East is divided between pragmatists and extremists. This division not only divides countries from each other, but splits the population within countries, which leads to instability. Iran, he said is the main threat to the region, but the division is also evident in the violent eruptions in Iraq, Lebanon and the Palestinian territories.

Ten years ago, he said, Israel was involved in a process of reconciliation with the Palestinians. Today, he observed, Israel is unsure if the Palestinians want peace. In an effort to improve the situation, Israel is now approaching the issues from the bottom up by creating economic development in Palestinian areas to give the people hope. By building confidence and hope in this manner, Israel hopes to restart negotiations.

The specter of Iran becoming a nuclear state, Kutner said, is the most pressing challenge the Middle East is facing. In fact, he said, Iran is a threat to all countries in the region and the world. He called for stronger international pressure on Iran to end its nuclear enrichment program. He urged everyone present to make sure the American public is aware of the problem and that the U.S. has to act to address the situation.

Kutner also spoke about the strong connections between Louisville and the Western Galilee through the Partnership with Louisville program, and called on our community to continue to build its relationship with Israel.

While in the state, Kutner also met with Governor Steve Beshear to explore increasing trade and economic development between Kentucky and the State of Israel.

Kutner assumed his current position last September. Prior to that, he headed the Bureau for Economic and Strategic Affairs at Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs Center for Political Research. He joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1983 and has served in Bolivia, Venezuela and New York.

Kutner has also served as Director for Palestinian and Jordanian Affairs, Director of the Division for Egypt and North Africa, acting director of the Division for Syrian and Lebanese Affairs, and Senior Analyst for North Africa and Syria.

He holds an M.A. cum laude in History of the Muslim Countries (Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 1986) an M.A. cum laude in Political Science/National Security Studies (University of Haifa, 2005), and a dual-major B.A. in European History and Middle Eastern Studies (Hebrew University, 1977).

Kutner was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and immigrated to Israel in 1973.  He and his wife, Shirley, have two daughters, Maia and Adi.

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