Thursday, February 18, 2010

Council Delegation Prepares for Israel Trip

Local City Council members Karen Koslowitz and Eric Ulrich are part of a 13-member delegation that will take part in a trip to Israel next week in an effort to boost international relations.

The trip, which is sponsored by the Jewish Community Relations Council and is not funded by tax dollars, has taken place annually for at least two decades. It will include meeting with business leaders, government officials and security experts.

“I am extremely honored to attend the JCRC trip to Israel next week. As a proud Jewish American, my long time commitment to Israel – both as an elected official and a private citizen – has given me a strong foundation and understanding of its great importance,” said Koslowitz (D-Forest Hills) in a statement to The Forum. “I look forward to traveling with Speaker [Christine] Quinn and my fellow Council colleagues to learn firsthand about the struggles, challenges and triumphs of the State of Israel.”

Ulrich (R-Ozone Park), who is a member of the Council’s Public Safety Committee, said one of his top priorities will be to study counter terrorism measures and strategies. “To help better understand the needs of New York, I look forward to meeting with Israel security and government officials who are experts at counter terrorism and public safety,” he said. “Both Israel and the United States share common threats against terrorism and I am hoping to gain a greater perspective in security- related solutions that can be implemented in our city.”

The JCRC has been sponsoring the trips for more than 20 years to give local lawmakers a firsthand look at the situation in Israel. “Constituents of the members of the City Council have opinions on the situation in the Middle East, and we have felt for many years that it is important that elected officials see Israel with their own eyes and arrive at their own conclusions,” the group’s CEO, Michael Miller, told the New York Sun in 2007.

During that year’s trip, the 11-member City Council delegation was forced to take cover in an underground room after the border town of Sderot came under fire from a Palestinian Arab rocket, the paper reported.

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