Philadelphia (Jan. 5)
Asher Naim, Consul General of Israel in Philadelphia, has been elected president of the Consular Association which represents all foreign consuls–33 nations–in the city. Some people are pleased about Naim’s election, others don’t like it, according to a story in this week’s Jewish Exponent.
Those who are pleased about his election include members of the Consular Association. They want the organization to be more active, and they believe that Naim will be a strong leader. Naim noted that as president of the Association “it gives me the opportunity to bring Israel to the fore. The president of the Consular Association is always invited to official events as the representative of the Consular corps.”
But some people don’t want to rub shoulders with representatives of Israel. Take, for instance, the reaction of officials from the People’s Republic of China at an otherwise festive occasion held last month in Independence Hall.
The event was the signing of a joint communique formalizing a “Sister City” relationship between Philadelphia and Tianjin. Mayor William Green and City Council President Joseph Coleman attended, as did Tianjin Vice Mayor Wu Zhen and representatives of China’s Office of Foreign Affairs.
The Chinese delegation objected that a second event was scheduled to follow the “Sister City” signing. The second event featured the Israeli Consul making a presentation to Mayor Green on behalf of the diplomatic corps. Israel and China do not have diplomatic relations.
No one at City Hall knew quite what to do. Apparently, the Chinese delegation didn’t want the Consular officials participating in the ceremony. Naim’s presentation was called off, then on again.
In the end, about 100 consular officials and guests witnessed the “Sister City” signing. Over a dozen Chinese officials attended. There were smiles, toasts and applause as the documents were signed. Naim remained quietly in the back of the crowd.
The first ceremony concluded, Green escorted his Chinese guests from the Hall, then returned for the second ceremony. Green and Naim took the podium and the Consular officials drew up close.
“On behalf of the Consular corps, ” Naim said, “I bring you holiday greetings from our people and everyone present.” Naim gave Green a recording of a Christmas Eve Mass in Bethlehem. Green replied: “I’m happy to accept this as a symbol of a friendship of the deepest kind that exist between people here and people in Israel.” Green then presented Naim with a silver tray with an engraving of Independence Hall.