LOS ANGELES (JTA) — Israel’s consul general welcomed his new Egyptian counterpart during a ceremony at Los Angeles City Hall.
Israel Consul General Jacob Dayan on Oct. 8 greeted Egyptian Consul General Hesham Elnakib along with Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, area legislators and some 200 members of the local Israeli, Jewish and Egyptian communities.
Exchanges between the two diplomats included hopes that the same harmonious ambiance might soon reach the Middle East.
“I think this is the first step in normalization," said Dayan, who was instrumental in organizing the event. "It comes from Los Angeles, but hopefully it will spread to Jerusalem and Cairo.
“Peace on the political level is important, but peace on a person-to-person echelon carries a grander weight and that is what we need to pass on to our communities.”
Elnakib reciprocated, calling Dayan his “dear friend.” He said the two countries should develop stronger cultural ties, given their similarities.
“We are the same,” he said. “We come from the same region. … I hope that everyone there is watching us.”
In a closing musical note, Israeli pop singer Miri Mesika was joined by Egyptian Oud player Hosam Ibrahem in serenading the crowd with “Inta Umri” (My Beloved) in Arabic.
Elnakib was stationed previously in San Francisco, but made the move to serve the much larger Egyptian community in Los Angeles. He estimated its size at 400,000, counting first-, second-, and third-generation Egyptians,
Estimates on the number of Israelis in Los Angeles fluctuate from 50,000 to 200,000. Some 600,000 Jews live in the city.