Mayor of George invited to Israel

The Executive Mayor for George, Alderman Melvin Naik was selected as the only South African Executive Mayor chosen to attend the annual 31st Conference of Mayors which took place this year in Israel from 14th – 18th November.

In the second photograph Ald Naik is seen addressing the media at the office of the Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu
In the second photograph Ald Naik is seen addressing the media at the office of the Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu

The invitation was extended on behalf of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Israel and in collaboration with the American Council for World Jewry and the American Jewish Congress with Ald Naik attending as their guest.

The Conference of Mayors is an exclusive  event which allows for networking and the sharing of professional experiences. The topic for this year was “Smart Cities” with a special focus on those new technologies which allow cities to run efficiently and serve the needs of their citizens. The programme included visits to the major centres of Israel including Jerusalem, Tel-Aviv and Haifa and featured a meeting with the Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, other top political leadership and entrepreneurs responsible for groundbreaking technologies that address the urban needs in Israel.

The visit included sightseeing and Ald. Naik was particularly touched by his visit to the Holocaust History Museum in Jerusalem. “This modern museum created in remembrance of the victims of the holocaust was a sobering reminder of the cruelty humans are capable of inflicting on one another. I walked away from this visit reminded of my relationship with God and his influence on my daily decisions as Mayor of George, “ said Ald. Naik.

“The lessons learnt from this visit show how innovation and modern technology has been embraced and the Smart City concept is working efficiently in Israel together with their advanced agricultural sector. The relationships fostered with the international Mayor’s  I met will stand us in good stead and the visit enabled me to address the international media on several occasions about the City of George” said Ald. Naik.

Ald. Naik is seen here with various Mayors from all over the world who attended the conference which spanned the major centres of Jerusalem, Tel-Aviv and Haifa
Ald. Naik is seen here with various Mayors from all over the world who attended the conference which spanned the major centres of Jerusalem, Tel-Aviv and Haifa

The Executive Mayor was also chosen to be interviewed by the Australian press on a controversial decision made by UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation).  According to news reports Israel has suspended ties with UNESCO recently after the UN’s cultural agency passed a resolution criticizing Israeli policy surrounding religious sites in East Jerusalem and the West Bank and using language Israel says denies Jewish ties to the region’s holy sites.

The Holocaust History Museum occupies over 4,200 square meters, mainly underground. Both multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary, it presents the story of the Shoah from a unique Jewish perspective, emphasizing the experiences of the individual victims through original artifacts, survivor testimonies and personal possessions.

Its 180 meters – long linear structure in the form of a spike cuts through the mountain with its uppermost edge – a skylight – protruding through the mountain ridge. Galleries portraying the complexity of the Jewish situation during those terrible years branch off this spike-like shaft, and the exit emerges dramatically out of the mountainside, affording a view of the valley below. Unique settings, spaces with varying heights, and different degrees of light accentuate focal points of the unfolding narrative.

At the end of the Museum’s historical narrative is the Hall of Names — a repository for the Pages of Testimony of millions of Holocaust victims, a memorial to those who perished.

From the Hall of Names, visitors will continue on to the epilogue and from there to the balcony opening to a panoramic view of Jerusalem.

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