Members of the Philadelphia-Israel Chamber of Commerce are urging their supporters to help prevent the closing of the city’s Israeli Consulate.
Earlier this month, the Jerusalem Post reported that the Israeli Foreign Ministry was considering closing its Philadelphia consulate in order to free funds for a new diplomatic mission in Chengdu, China.
According to the Jerusalem Post, Deputy Foreign Minister Ze’ev Elkin stated during a ministry meeting that the Philadelphia consulate could be closed since Israel already had representation in Boston, Washington and New York.
The announcement came as only a few days before Mayor Michael Nutter’s trip to Israel. Nutter is scheduled to travel to London on Nov. 2 and Israel on Nov. 6 for a trade mission.
While a final decision has not been made, the Philadelphia-Israel Chamber of Commerce is taking action. Richard A. Bendit, the Chamber President, wrote an open letter to all supporters asking them to join a campaign to keep the Consulate open.
“While a closure would, no doubt, be a blow to our region, it will be an even greater loss to Israel, its citizens, institutions and businesses,” Bendit wrote. “The Greater Philadelphia region plays a key role in accelerating U.S.-Israeli business development, advocating pro-Israeli causes, and strengthening cultural, political and philanthropic ties between our countries.”
According to Bendit, about 25 percent of all Israeli exports to the U.S. pass through the Philadelphia region every year.
Bendit is also asking supporters to send a letter opposing the Consulate’s closing to the Office of the Israeli Prime Minister.