San Antonio mayor in Israel for five-day visit

Julian Castro has brought with him a delegation of city, business and religious leaders from San Antonio, for a series of meetings with politicians, industrial figures and other officials.

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July 13, 2011 13:32
2 minute read.
San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro

Julian Castro 311. (photo credit: Courtesy San Antonio Mayor's website)

 
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Mayor Julian Castro of San Antonio, Texas, signed a memorandum of intent on Tuesday with Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem Naomi Tzur, alongside representatives of healthcare development corporations BioMed SA and BioJerusalem.

Castro, who arrived in Israel on Sunday, is leading a five-day mission and has brought with him a delegation of city, business and religious leaders from San Antonio, for a series of meetings with politicians, industrial figures and other officials.

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“Israel is setting a very high standard, particularly in sectors which match up well with San Antonio’s strengths,” Castro told The Jerusalem Post. “We’ve signed a broad agreement today to promote collaboration in business development as well as research cooperation.”

Castro also spoke about what he described as the “warm relationship” between the Hispanic community in his city, which comprises more than 60 percent of the population, and the Jewish residents, who number approximately 9,200.

“There is deep mutual respect between the Hispanic and Jewish communities in San Antonio,” he said, pointing to the fact that a number of leaders of nation-wide initiatives aimed at bringing the two groups together come from San Antonio.

“Two months ago we held the Bridges and Pathways conference to foster relations between Hispanics and Jews in the city. Hispanics have the experience of being a minority and an immigrant population which the Jewish community can truly understand.”

The issue of illegal immigration is one of the hot topics in San Antonio as well as Texas and the southern US in general. Rabbi Barry Block, head of the Reform community of Temple Beth-El in San Antonio since 1992 and a member of the mayor’s delegation said that among the Jewish community there is widespread agreement that a path to citizenship needs to be found for illegal immigrants.



“We understand ourselves what its like to be an immigrant community, because we were strangers in the land of America,” Block said.  

“We are very concerned about the rights of immigrant workers and migrant workers. We do need a system whereby we can control our borders, so the walls should be high but the gate should be wide.

“We need to understand that the people who are coming to our country today are coming for the same reasons our ancestors came to the US, for opportunity.”

Castro visited the Old City of Jerusalem on Monday, where he was given a guided tour and stopped at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the Western Wall and other religious and historical sites. 

“Visiting the Church of the Holy Sepulchre was one of those moments in life which you definitely remember and I was very awed by it.”

The delegation visited Yad Vashem after Tuesday morning’s signing ceremony. The mission will head off to Hadera tomorrow to tour the desalination plant there, and Mayor Castro will meet with President Shimon Peres on Thursday.

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