B’nai B’rith International participated in a historic three-country mission to Israel, Cyprus and Greece, together with a 15-member delegation of community leaders from two American-Hellenic organizations, as well as representatives from the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. B’nai B’rith International President Allan J. Jacobs, Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin, Board of Governors member William Bram and B’nai B’rith World Center Director Alan Schneider participated in the visit that ran from Jan. 8 to 15.
B’nai B’rith and the Conference of Presidents were joined by representatives from the American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association (AHEPA)—a leading membership-based grassroots association for American citizens of Greek heritage and Philhellenes—and the American Hellenic Institute (AHI) —a Greek American public policy center and think tank. The delegation met with high-ranking government, military and religious officials, exploring the major political, economic and security developments underway in the eastern Mediterranean.
“This trip made it evident that there’s a distinct commonality between the American Greek and Jewish communities,” B’nai B’rith International President Allan J. Jacobs said. “By coming to an understanding of the problems facing the eastern Mediterranean—and the democratic countries of Israel, Greece and Cyprus—we can now return to the United States and coordinate solutions to the problems facing both of our communities.”
The delegation began the trip in Israel, holding meetings with Minister of Defense retired Lt. Gen. Moshe Ya'alon; Minister of Foreign Affairs Avigdor Lieberman; Minister of Strategic Affairs, Intelligence and International Relations Yuval Steinitz; Minister of Economy, Religious Services, Jerusalem and Diaspora Affairs Naftali Bennett; Speaker of the Knesset Yuli-Yoel Edelstein; Minister of Tourism Uzi Landau; Deputy National Security Advisor Eran Lerman; and Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Zeev Elkin. The joint delegation also held a round-table discussion with Israeli ambassadors and ambassadors-delegates to Greece and Cyprus as well as several officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and received a briefing from the Israel Defense Forces (IDF).
The delegation’s next stop was Cyprus, where participants met with Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides; Ambassador of Cyprus to the United States George Chacalli; and Archbishop Chrysostomos II of Cyprus.
The final leg of the three-country visit was Greece, where the delegation met with President of the Hellenic Republic Karolos Papoulias; Prime Minister Antonis Samaras; Minister of Defense Dimitris Avramopoulos; Speaker of Hellenic Parliament Evangelos Meimarakis; Minister of Tourism Olga Kefalogianni; Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Kyriakos Gerontopoulos; Minister of Culture and Sports Panos Panagiotopoulos; American Ambassador to Greece David Pearce; and Israeli Ambassador to Greece Arye Mekel.
“We are extremely grateful that we were able to meet with so many high-level officials throughout our visit, all of whom were very receptive in continuing to develop a strong, trilateral bond between these countries,” B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin said.