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Crosstalk: August 29, 2018

The Consul General of Israel to the Midwest is Aviv Ezra based in Chicago. Mr. Ezra is the official representative and the highest ranking official of the state of Israel in the Midwest.  His office serves as a liaison between the residents of the region and the state of Israel. Mr. Ezra has also served as the Director for Congressional Affairs at the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Jerusalem. This was preceded by a 5 year period of service as the Counselor for Congressional Affairs at the Embassy of Israel in Washington D.C. Mr. Ezra joined Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1999. During his service in the Israel Defense Forces, he achieved the rank of Captain. Following his military service, he received a B.A. in Economics and Political Science from Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

It was just over 3 months ago that the U.S. moved its embassy to Jerusalem. Guatemala has also moved theirs while European nations are in the process of negotiations to do the same. Aviv noted that Israel was very appreciative and honored that the Trump administration has not only made the decision to move the U.S. embassy, but to execute it as well.

Aviv mentioned the 'push-back' of those who were saying that if the U.S. does this, it will create a huge riot around the world and that this move would actually hurt peace. He pointed to areas such as Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan who are more concerned about the Iranian threat, so there was no violent threat coming from those nations concerning the U.S. embassy move.

Aviv believes the embassy move actually helps the cause of peace because it puts a 'mirror' in front of the Palestinians so that they can see that in any final peace deal between them and Israel, Jerusalem will be the capital of the state of Israel.

Concerning the U.S./Israeli relationship, Aviv described it as 'very solid' and based upon 3 major elements: Shared values of democracy, freedom and equality, shared interests in the Middle East, and public opinion that shows a high level of support for the U.S./Israel relationship. Crucial to maintaining this relationship was the already mentioned embassy move along with the Iran deal which President Trump has said is unacceptable and which Aviv described as dangerous.

Aviv has been stationed in D.C. for 5 years and has reached out to Midwest governors, senators, members of Congress, state legislators and even mayors and sheriffs. Out of 9 states he's met 7 governors in the last year and a half, 5 of them to have an official business delegation to Israel.

3 elements are the focus in these efforts. The first is foreign policy and defense topics. At this point Aviv pointed out that Israel is more than just about the conflict. Israel is about high-tech, biotechnology, I.T., cybersecurity, great beaches, beautiful people, and more. However, the other two elements involve Israel's innovative spirit, the economy, creating business exchanges between the Midwest and Israel and finally, social innovation. This last point involves discovering how Israel can bring models, technologies and concepts to other places in order to better the world.

As this Crosstalk continued, Jim had Aviv cover Israel's innovations in detail, why Israel is such a target of the U.N., whether peace can come to the Middle East, and calls from Crosstalk listeners.

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