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      American Mayors: Israel is Safe for Travel

      A Jerusalem conference of 62 mayors from around the world this month ended with a call upon the Palestinian Authority to end violence, as well as a declaration that Israel is safe for tourists.
      First Publish: 4/25/2005, 1:24 PM / Last Update: 4/25/2005, 4:09 PM


      The American Jewish Congress Council for World Jewry recently concluded its 23rd Annual Jerusalem Conference of Mayors, hosting 62 mayors from municipalities of South, Central and North America, Europe, Africa and Asia. Participants said they came away with a better understanding of the specific challenges facing both Israel and Jerusalem. This year, the participating mayors from the U.S. brought back a message that Israel is a safe place to visit.

      The mayors gathered in Israel from April 10-15th to attend the 23rd Annual Conference, sponsored by the American Jewish Congress Council for World Jewry, in cooperation with Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the U.S. Conference of Mayors, and the Jerusalem Municipality.

      Many tourists agree with the mayors. A survey by the Ministry of Tourism last week showed that 220,000 vacationers were expected in Israeli hotels during the Passover holiday. Overseast tourists were expected to comprise 60,000 of the guests, 30% more than during Passover 2004. Many thousands more are expected to arrive in the coming weeks as well. New York State Assemblyman Dov Hikind, for instance, plans to bring hundreds of people for a solidarity trip to Gush Katif - his second in three months - on June 5-8.

      The mayors representing the U.S. Conference of Mayors drafted a letter to their host, Jerusalem Mayor Uri Lupolianski, expressing their gratitude and sentiments of warmth, security and peace. They wrote,

      "Many of us came here in spite of concerns voiced by family and friends. Never while we were here did we feel that our safety was in jeopardy. We found Jerusalem and the other parts of Israel which we visited to be peaceful and secure. When we return home we will encourage others to visit Israel so that they can learn about the country, meet its people and be able to see many of the important historic sites.

      Jack Rosen, Chairman of the American Jewish Congress Council for World Jewry , said, "Mayors are front line leaders in their communities and relate closely to their constituents... Mayors who come and share the experience of Israel are able to counter anti-Israel rhetoric back home."