update deskU.S.-Israel Relations

Delegation of US mayors visit Israel, talk to families of hostages

Jon Mitchell, the mayor of New Bedford, Mass., said the challenges of the Middle East “are more relevant than ever to Americans.”

The mayors of cities in Massachusetts, South Carolina and Oregon visited Israel for four days, where they met with politicians, academics, business leaders, regional experts and the families of hostages being held captive by Hamas in the Gaza Strip, April 2024. Credit: U.S. Conference of Mayors.
The mayors of cities in Massachusetts, South Carolina and Oregon visited Israel for four days, where they met with politicians, academics, business leaders, regional experts and the families of hostages being held captive by Hamas in the Gaza Strip, April 2024. Credit: U.S. Conference of Mayors.

The mayors of cities in Massachusetts, South Carolina and Oregon returned last week from a four-day visit to Israel, where they met with political officials, business leaders, academics and regional experts.

The three U.S. municipal leaders—Jon Mitchell, the mayor of New Bedford, Mass.; Daniel Rickman, mayor of Columbia, S.C.; and Travis Stovall, mayor of Gresham, Ore.—also spoke with released hostages, their families and those working to see the return of the rest of the captives still being held in the Gaza Strip since the Hamas terrorist attacks in southern Israel on Oct. 7.

They further spent time in Sderot along Israel’s border with Gaza—an Israeli city with a population of about 27,000 that has stood on the frontlines of rocket attacks from Gaza since the turn of the 21st century.

Mayors Trip to Israel
The mayors of cities in Massachusetts, South Carolina and Oregon visited Israel for four days, where they met with politicians, academics, business leaders, regional experts and the families of hostages being held captive by Hamas in the Gaza Strip, April 2024. Credit: U.S. Conference of Mayors.

Jon Mitchell, the mayor of New Bedford, Mass., said “although this is the USCM’s fourth mayoral delegation to Israel, the issues in the region today are more relevant than ever to Americans.”

He noted that the war between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip had widened “the political fault lines in our country, and I believe that it is important for mayors, as the leaders of their cities, to take opportunities like this to deepen their understanding of a situation that, as everyone can agree, is complicated and difficult.”

The trip was sponsored by a joint program between the U.S. Conference of Mayors and the American Jewish Committee’s Project Interchange.

Mayors Trip to Israel
The mayors of cities in Massachusetts, South Carolina and Oregon visited Israel for four days, where they met with politicians, academics, business leaders, regional experts and the families of hostages being held captive by Hamas in the Gaza Strip, April 2024. Credit: U.S. Conference of Mayors.
Mayors Trip to Israel
The mayors of cities in Massachusetts, South Carolina and Oregon visited Israel for four days, where they met with politicians, academics, business leaders, regional experts and the families of hostages being held captive by Hamas in the Gaza Strip, April 2024. Credit: U.S. Conference of Mayors.
Mayors Trip to Israel
The mayors of cities in Massachusetts, South Carolina and Oregon visited Israel for four days, where they met with politicians, academics, business leaders, regional experts and the families of hostages being held captive by Hamas in the Gaza Strip, April 2024. Credit: U.S. Conference of Mayors.
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