In pursuit of common ground

Matt Nesvisky searches desperately to find a Jew in Iceland and any similarity to the State of Israel.

July 22, 2014 15:54

A geyser in Geysir, Iceland.. (photo credit: BOB STRONG / REUTERS)

In March 1966, President Asgeir Asgeirsson of Iceland visited Israel. This may not seem so remarkable today, but back in those early, pre-Six Day War years, any visit to little Israel by a foreign head of state was big news and Asgeirsson was, in fact, the first to address the Knesset.

But that’s not why this occasion remains in my memory. The reason I recall this minor diplomatic moment is because of what I witnessed as Asgeirsson was greeted upon his entry into Jerusalem. After serving up the traditional bread and salt, somebody – mayor Teddy Kollek or prime minister Levi Eshkol, I forget exactly who – pronounced that Israel was especially pleased to welcome the president of Iceland because the two countries had so much in common.


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