A Special Message from Opher Aviran Opher Aviran
As 5774 draws to a close, I want to express my sincere gratitude for the unwavering support of the Jewish community of Atlanta to the people and State of Israel. Through the joy and grief of this past year, you stood with us and voiced your support for our nation.
As a people, we faced the real threat of Hamas terrorism: from the kidnapping and murder of the three Israeli students—Eyal, Gilad, and Naftali—to the more than 4,400 rockets that threatened 75% of the Israeli population during Operation Protective Edge. But the Israeli people persevered, and owing to the strength of the IDF, the Iron Dome missile defense system, and the cooperation of the civilian population, only six Israeli civilians were killed. 64 Israeli soldiers paid the ultimate price in service to the State of Israel.
During the operation, we were continually amazed by the show of support for the people and State of Israel organized by the Georgia community. In July, the Atlanta Supports Israel rally organized by the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta with more than 50 community sponsors featured Mayor Kasim Reed speaking passionately about the importance of standing with Israel to a crowd of thousands of supporters.
As the negotiation process continues, we look forward to a resolution that ensures a sustainable peace for both the Israeli and Palestinian people.
Despite this conflict, we remained committed to strengthening the relationship between the State of Israel and the state of Georgia.
This year, I was delighted to accompany Governor Nathan Deal on his trade mission to Israel. Following this mission, we anticipate new partnerships that will be mutually beneficial for Israel and Georgia.
In this respect, most recently we joined conexx in welcoming the visit of Energiya Global CEO Yosef Abramowitz to Atlanta. During his visit, the AJT reported that Abramowitz is looking to Georgia as a possible solar power hub. While in Atlanta, we facilitated meetings for him at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and with business leaders in the Metro Atlanta Chamber.
In August, Major General Yaacov Ayish, Israel’s Defense and Armed Forces Attaché to the United States, made a special trip to Atlanta to brief Congressional representatives, CNN leadership, and top figures in academia and the greater community on the facts of Operation Protective Edge.
Looking forward to 5775, we have great expectations.
As always, the Consulate is working hard both to keep the community informed and to share the best of Israeli innovation and culture with the people of the Southeast United States.
In September, we hosted the visit of Avi Shavit, Head of Israel’s Cyber and Homeland Security Research for the Chief Scientist of Israel. Shavit met with Chancellor Hank Huckaby of the University System of Georgia and major Georgia businesses and universities, including Georgia Tech, Lockheed Martin, Southern Company and Delta Airlines. Georgia remains an integral partner for the field of cyber security, of which Israel is a leading innovator.
In October, Israel’s Vertigo Dance Company will perform the U.S. premiere of a new piece, “Reshimo,” at the Rialto Center for the Arts. Vertigo Dance Company’s unique approach not only to art but also to living makes for an unforgettable cultural experience.
We are mindful, however, that Israel faces serious national security challenges in the coming year as Iran continues its efforts to acquire military nuclear capabilities and remains the chief sponsor of the terrorist organizations Hezbollah and Hamas. Without the great friendship of the American people, it will be difficult to meet these strategic challenges.
On behalf of the Consulate General of Israel to the Southeast, we wish you a happy and sweet New Year, and look forward to working with you in 5775!
– Opher Aviran
Consulate General of Israel to the Southeast