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Israel Unveils Its New Chancery in Washington

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Israel unveiled last Thursday its magnificent and spacious new chancery in Washington in the presence of about 500 leading Washington officials, including U.S. government officials, diplomats, business and professional leaders.

The four-story brick structure, the design and color of which reflect contemporary construction in Jerusalem, houses all the Israeli offices that, for the past several years, have been scattered in three buildings.

The Embassy itself, the residence of Israel’s Ambassador, also is considerably closer to the chancery. Under Secretary of State David Newsom, the top U.S. official present, lauded Ambassador Ephraim Evron’s services and friendship, and added; “On this day, a special occasion, I can congratulate the government of Israel on this beautiful symbol of the beauties of Israel, and also congratulate my good friend, Ephraim Evron.”

Newsom also observed “the very sincere hope” of the State Department that the Camp David peace process will continue. He noted that the “very fundamental and frank discussion” between Israel and the United States “made this process possible and will be carried on.”

Washington’s Mayor, Marian Barry, expressed the “friendship and kinship of the people of Israel and the people of Washington.” Barry is Black and Washington’s population is three-quarters Black. Both Barry and Newsom spoke at the ground-breaking ceremonies for the chancery on Israel’s Independence Day in May, 1979.

CHANCERY IS WELL PROTECTED

Israel’s chancery, located at Van Ness Street and Reno Road, is the first in the “international center” established by the State Department for a dozen chanceries. None other has yet been built, although options have been taken by various governments. The center adjoins the University of the District of Columbia and is in a well-to-do residential area of northwest Washington.

In keeping with modern security requirements, the building is protected by brick and metal fending and an entrance that permits easy access only with the approval of a secluded guard. The cost of the building and its furnishings totalled $5 million overall, Evron said.

Dominating the chancery is the atrium that involves the building’s four floors and leads to a large hall for conferences and receptions. Works of some 50 Israeli artists decorate the interior and exterior, making the structure a showcase of Israeli art. Works include those of Ruben Rubin, Menasha Kadishman, Yigal Tomaikas, and Yisrael Shemi.

Planning for the building began in 1977 during Premier Menachem Begin’s first trip to the United States, when former Israel Ambassador Simcha Dinitz and former White House Chief of Protocol, Evan Dobell, signed on agreement leasing to Israel land in the international center.

In lauding those who contributed toward the planning and construction, Evron gave special thanks to Robert Kogod of Washington “for his tireless efforts on overall development.” Architect Louis Bernado was credited with the building’s architectural design, and Yeshayahu Mandel, Israel’s architectural consultant, added the flavor of Jerusalem to the design.

Sam and Soul Stern were named for their assistance in the procurement of office furniture and the interior design services provided by their designer, Wilda Schrode. The Israel Museum of Jerusalem, the Tel Aviv Museum and the America — Israel Cultural Foundation assisted in the art program and coordinating the contributions of the works of art.

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