[by Matt Goldberg, Director Jewish Community Relations Council]
On Sunday and Monday, April 21 and 22, our community was privileged to have a special guest in town, Yaron Sideman, consul general for the Israeli Consulate in Philadelphia. Sideman, one of nine Israeli consuls general in the United States, assumed his post less than a year ago, and he is eager to visit all of the communities in his assigned region, which includes Kentucky.
Consul General Sideman was in Louisville for two occasions: First was the Night to Honor Israel, an event held at the Evangel World Prayer Center, which this year featured Christians United For Israel Executive Director David Brog. At this event, Sideman thanked those in attendance for their love and support for the State of Israel. (See story from April 26 Community, available at www.jewishlouisville.org). Consul General Sideman was also in town to meet with politicians from Kentucky, and JCL President/CEO Stu Silberman and I accompanied him on his three visits while he was here in Kentucky.
Our first meeting was with Cong. John Yarmuth, and Sideman’s visit was well received. Sideman thanked Rep. Yarmuth for his (and Congress’) continued financial support in helping Israel to maintain its qualitative military advantage. He also thanked Cong. Yarmuth for the continued pressure that the United States is placing on Iran, as U.S. supported sanctions have done much to negatively affect Iran’s economy hoping that this will lead Iran to abandon its nuclear program.
We then met with Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes. Sideman gave a brief overview of the Iran sanctions program and what can be done at the state level to participate. Sec. Grimes was very receptive to the idea of enforcing the sanctions at the state level, and promised to pursue this with the State attorney general and with her colleagues around the country. Sideman explained that only through increased government and private financial pressure will Iran agree to halt its nuclear program.
Our final meeting was in Frankfort, to meet with Gov. Steve Beshear and Lt. Gov. Jerry Abramson. At this meeting, Sideman emphasized all the tourist, commercial, and educational opportunities in Israel, relating how other states are beginning to foster these kinds of exchanges and partnerships. The Governor and Lt. Governor seemed very intrigued by the possibility of these kinds of exchanges, and were interested in possibly accompanying a delegation to Israel to explore further.
Israel is a world leader in many industries, particularly in the high tech arena. We plan on continuing the discussion that started with this meeting by following up with state Officials from Kentucky’s Cabinet For Economic Development.
Consul General Sideman’s meetings with these state and national officials went very well, we look forward to having the Consul General back in Kentucky many times over the course of his tenure.