Israel's ambassador to London Zvi Heifetz has announced the launch of a major program of events in the UK to mark Israel's 60th anniversary year.
Speaking at a reception to launch the 'Israel 60' project at the Israel Embassy in Kensington, west London on Monday night, the ambassador said the project will be coordinated by the Zionist Federation (ZF), in partnership with the embassy.
Israel's history and progress, together with its character and society, will be marked by a wide array of educational, social and cultural initiatives, as well as specialized tours of Israel.
The year of celebrations will culminate with a gala dinner in January 2008 with invitations being extended to both the British and Israeli prime ministers. In May 2008, a star-studded event will take place at Royal Albert Hall.
A team of Israeli and British educators will tour the UK and meet communities, organizations, schools and universities and lead seminars on a wide range of common experiences.
Alan Aziz, director of the ZF, will serve as chief executive to the project coordinating all activities with a steering group of 60 organizations that include the Jewish National Fund (JNF), Women's International Zionist Organization (WIZO) and the Jewish Agency.
The ZF will produce monthly listings of the activities throughout the year. The key theme will be education with the view to developing Young Ambassadors for Israel, a program designed to cultivate leadership development and promotion of Israel in the diaspora.
The event will take place in major Jewish population centers such as Manchester, Leeds, Glasgow, Brighton and Birmingham. A large-scale event will be held in Liverpool, the chosen "European City of Culture" for 2008.
"Our objective is to be internationally focused on advocacy and national active support for Israel through the media, events and the involvement of the whole community. We are so proud to be leading such an exciting project in partnership with the embassy and supported by the JNF," said Andrew Balcombe, chairman of the ZF.
Heifetz added that the embassy was pleased to be partnering with the ZF.
"We expect this to be the most dynamic, creative and biggest celebration yet, honoring Israel's 60th independence year and vitality at a time that it is so vital to publicly express our support," he said.