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Press Release about a trip to Israel
November 23, 2010
Here is a press release about a trip to Israel which I just returned from:
A group of ten Minnesota legislators, including State Rep. Sandra Masin of Eagan, took part on an eight day trip to Israel, and the West Bank this month.
In addition to visiting sites of religious and historical significance, the group of legislators participated in meetings with local officials and discussed:
• The current state of peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority including meetings with chief Palestinian negotiator, Saeb Erekat, and an official from the Israeli Foreign Ministry
• Met with the parents of captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, and presented proclamations from the cities Minneapolis and St. Paul demanding his release from Hamas captivity in Gaza, as well as numerous letters of solidarity from Minnesota residents
• Participated in a ceremony at Israel's Holocaust Memorial Museum, Yad Vashem, honoring Representative Bernie Lieder for his role in liberating Nazi forced labor camps in World War II
• Discussed joint Israeli, Palestinian and Jordanian initiatives to address regional water issues. The group visited Peace Island in the Jordan River, the site of a proposed international peace park to promote tourism, water conservation, and other cross-border cooperative ventures between Israel and Jordan
• Toured West Bank city of Bethlehem and met with Palestinian civic leaders and youth
• Visited three Israeli high tech companies, Bright Source Energy, Cima Nanotech, and Better Place which are conducting intensive research and development of technologies to promote solar energy, and electric vehicles. Cima Nanotech is headquartered in St. Paul with its R&D operations in Ceasaria, Israel
• Visited an Israeli pre-school for Ethiopian Jewish immigrants, funded in part by donations from the Minneapolis Jewish Federation
• Toured the Golan Heights and received a briefing on security issues along Israel's border with Syria and Lebanon with a retired Israeli General.
• Met with the director of the Geneva Initiative, a non-governmental organization that has developed a joint Israeli and Palestinian blueprint for a peace agreement.
“This trip was filled with unforgettable moments, and the journey itself has been eye-opening,” said Rep. Sandra Masin (DFL-Eagan). “Experiencing the historical significance of this region first-hand helped me gain insight into the complexity of the current conflict, and the importance of forging a path to peace that will make the region and the world safer and more secure. It was an incredible opportunity and I was honored to be a part of it.”
Minnesota lawmakers joining Representative Masin on the visit include Rep. Frank Hornstein (DFL-Minneapolis), Sen. Terri Bonhoff (DFL-Minnetonka), Rep. Bernie Lieder (DFL-Crookston), Rep. Tina Liebling (DFL-Rochester), Rep. Steve Simon (DFL-Saint Louis Park), Rep. Jeremy Kalin (DFL-North Branch), Rep. Sarah Anderson (R-Plymouth), Sen. Ann Rest (DFL-Golden Valley), and Rep. Phyllis Kahn (DFL-Minneapolis).
“This was a very successful trip,” said Hornstein. “Our interfaith and bipartisan group had a chance to experience many dimensions of this dynamic region, including diverse perspectives on the peace process. It is more important than ever for leaders at all levels of government to develop a global perspective, especially in a region of such significance for Christians, Jews, and Muslims.”
Members of the delegation are available for interviews concerning any of the above topics and to share general perspectives on the trip.
All of the trip participants covered their own expenses, and the delegation's visit was not sponsored by any organization. Several local groups assisted with specific meetings. The Minneapolis Jewish Federation coordinated the visit to the child care center, the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas and Israel Programs Center of the Minneapolis Jewish Federation arranged the meeting with Gilad Shalit's parents, and the American-Israel Chamber of Commerce – Minnesota helped to connect the delegation with Cima Nano Tech, an Israeli high tech company.