Englewood mayor going to summit in Jerusalem
Thursday, May 6, 2004
Englewood's mayor is among 32 from around the world - with representatives from Estonia, El Salvador, Eritrea, and Ethiopia - scheduled to discuss homeland security in Jerusalem next week.
The American Jewish Congress, a New York-based advocacy group, is sponsoring the 22nd Jerusalem Conference of Mayors. Mayor Michael Wildes and an aide will join nine other American delegates attending the weeklong conference, which begins Sunday.
The goal of the event, usually held annually, is to win friends for Israel and Jerusalem by highlighting the city's similarities with other municipalities, a spokesman from the American Jewish Congress said.
"We want them to go away and see Jerusalem not just as a Jewish city under siege, but a vibrant city with waterworks and transportation issues as well," said spokesman Juda Engelmayer.
The weeklong conference includes dinner with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, a talk with the director of a hospital about how to prepare for mass casualties, and a visit to the Holocaust memorial. Jerusalem mayor Uri Lupolianski, whom Wildes hosted at his home for a fund-raiser in December, also will speak to attendees.
The American Jewish Congress is paying all of Wildes' expenses.
Wildes said the conference would be a good opportunity to learn from other mayors about how to prevent and prepare for terrorism.
"No democratic nation has lived successfully under the threat of terrorism more than the state of Israel, and I am extremely interested in how they cultivate policy, tactically secure their nation, and prepare for a calamity," he said.
The conference was canceled in 2002 after multiple suicide bombings, and in 2003 following the invasion of Iraq. The congress sent out hundreds of invitations to mayors this year and turned none away, Engelmayer said.
Conference organizers sent participants a memo describing in detail the security measures that will be in place for the mayors.
"At no time will you be without protection, although you won't always see it," the memo said.
Wildes, an observant Jew, said he would use the occasion to plan future visits to Israel. As mayor, he has shown a deep affinity for the country. In March, he hosted the mayor of Beitar Illit - one of the fastest-growing controversial Jewish settlements in the Palestinian-populated West Bank. And the State of Israel Bonds are honoring Wildes for his support at a reception in New York tonight.