On Wednesday, November 30, Ιsraeli music star Yehuda Poliker met and sang along with a delegation of Greek officials visiting Israel this week through Project Interchange, an Institute of the American Jewish Committee.
Participants of the Greek delegation included leading officials of the Greek government, such as minister plenipotentiary and chief of cabinet in the Ministry of Citizen Protection, the general secretary of religious affairs in the Ministry of Education, Lifelong Learning and Religious Affairs, members of the Greek Parliament, university officials and senior diplomatic correspondents.
Jehuda Poliker is known for combining Israeli rock music with Greek and other Mediterranean musical styles and is deemed as one of the major Israeli music figures of today.
Being the son of Greek-Jewish Holocaust survivors who were deported from their home in Thessaloniki, Greece, to Auschwitz, Germany, Poliker has been actively involved in strengthening Israel-Greek relations in the past.
Poliker spent the evening dining with the Greek group, exploring their shared Greek heritage at the private home of Lily Eiss-Perahia, former chair of the Israel-Greek Chamber of Commerce, and a long-time friend of Poliker’s.
When he spontaneously started singing, the evening turned into a vibrant, festive sing-along event for the delegates and invited Greek-Israeli guests.
The Greek delegation, currently in Israel, is participating in briefings with members of the Israeli Parliament, senior Israeli government officials, NGO leaders and journalists, and has already met Palestinian National Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad in Ramallah and H.B. Patriarch Theophilos III, Greek Orthodox Church patriarch of Jerusalem and Palestine.
The group has explored interfaith relations in Israel, Arab-Jewish coexistence efforts, the peace process, the Israeli education system and Israeli-Mediterranean economic relations.
Prior to the delegation’s departure from Greece, the participants met with Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon in Athens on Tuesday. Ayalon, who was in Greece earlier this week, met with the group and with previous Greek Project Interchange alumni.
The seminar provided participants with the opportunity to build upon and amplify current high level bilateral exchanges, and to broaden the foundation for deeper engagement with Israel across political and economic sectors.
Project Interchange has sponsored several seminars for Greek policy makers and journalists since 2005, and Greek journalists, academics, and counter-terrorism experts regularly participate in pan-European seminars organized by Project Interchange.
The relationships between Israel and Greece have undergone a significant revival in recent years, as demonstrated by reciprocal presidential visits, expanded military and strategic cooperation and greatly expanded trade, tourism and commercial ties.
Project Interchange has brought over 5,500 civic, religious, media, business, high tech and university leaders from more than 65 countries to Israel. Project Interchange’s week-long educational visits are tailored to the specific interests of high-level delegations and provide participants a broad exposure to complex issues facing Israel and the region.