Great Neck, NY, signs ‘sister pact’ with Israeli towns
Jewish News Syndicate (JNS) Dec 7, 2022
BY Josh Hasten
Heartland Initiative builds bridges between Jewish, Druze communities and the Long Island village.
(December 7, 2022 / JNS)
A declaration of friendship and cooperation was signed in Israel this week at a festive ceremony between the mayor of Great Neck, New York, Dr. Pedram Bral, and Israel Ganz, the head of the Binyamin Regional Council, north of Jerusalem.
A similar signing kicked off the relationship between the two communities in the village of Great Neck, on New York’s Long Island, in August.
The latest declaration calls for the parties to “strengthen the friendly and cooperative relations between the two municipalities…on the basis of mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit.” The two communities also declared themselves as “Sister Cities.”
The collaboration between communities thousands of miles away was the brainchild of the Heartland Initiative, an organization based in Israel whose mission is to: “Build bridges and relationships through public diplomacy on a grassroots level between international mayors, philanthropists, business people, and other professionals to their counterparts within all the regions of Israel.”
A day earlier, Bral was on the Golan Heights and signed a similar agreement of collaboration with Mayor Wael Mugrabi of the Druze village of Ein Qiniyye, located in the foothills of Mount Hermon. One document was signed in English and another in Arabic. Numerous members of Knesset representing multiple parties attended the ceremony.
Gedaliah Blum, co-founder and senior partner at the Heartland Initiative and founder of the Bikurim non-profit, told JNS, “Signing friendship declarations between cities is a way for grassroots leaders to bring together their communities for future cooperation.
“It’s not just a photo-op, it’s followed up by various programming, whether through education, cultural exchange, economic exchange, trade, etc,” he stressed.
Blum, who operates Heartland alongside co-founder and senior partner Yonathan Ben Yisrael, stressed that while his organization is based in Judea and Samaria, its goal is to build bridges between all parts of Israel with their counterparts abroad.
“The Heartland Initiative’s call to action is to strengthen Israel without any borders, all of Israel, whether it’s Herzliya or Shiloh, whether it’s Metula or Ein Qiniyye or Eilat.”