Israel’s Ambassador to US takes official tour of Black America

Israel’s Ambassador to the United States and United Nations makes his first official tour of Black America with the Philos Project

To coincide with Black History Month, H. E. Gilad Erdan, Ambassador from Israel to the United States and the United Nations participate in a listening and learning tour hosted by the Philos Project to learn about and engage with members of the African-American community in Charleston, SC and Montgomery, AL.

The Philos Project’s mission of increasing positive engagement in the Near East continues in this 2-day historic tour with Ambassador Erdan, Israel’s Consul General in the Southeast US Anat Sultan-Dadon, and key leaders from the African-American community to notable sites in Charleston, SC and Montgomery, AL. The all-immersive experience aimed at exploring the history of Black communities and learning in more depth about their unique contribution to the American story. The tour included lectures on the importance of Charleston as “the Ellis Island” in Black History, the Black Church, and the Civil Rights Movement. The sites visited include:

· Mcleod Plantation, Charleston, SC

· Magnolia Plantation, Charleston, SC

· Mother Emanual AME Church, Charleston, SC

· Edmund Pettus Bridge, Selma, AL

· Dexter Ave King Memorial Baptist Church, Montgomery, AL

· Rosa Parks Museum, Montgomery, AL

· Equal Justice Initiative’s National Memorial for Peace and Justice, Montgomery, AL

Ambassador Erdan’s experience in Charleston, SC and Montgomery, AL allowed him to better appreciate the resiliency of the Black community and drew some parallels to the Jewish experience. He asserts, “For both of our nations, diversity is our greatest asset and our greatest challenge.” Chavis Jones, a recent Duke Law School graduate states “Jews and African-Americans alike stood in the long shadow of freedom fighters in places like Charleston, Montgomery, and Selma, and we were reminded that unjust systems can only be destroyed by people who refuse to do what is safe, expedient, or popular, but instead, choose to do what is right.”

One poignant point that the Ambassador highlighted in his remarks about his experience was the 5-7 year life span of enslaved Africans during the Mid-Atlantic slave trade in the United States. Rev. Horace Sheffield, Civil Rights Activist and Pastor from Detroit, MI affirms the same sentiments when saying, “It’s often easy to immerse oneself in your own personal and historical experience, as many African Americans do when they consider slavery and its aftermath, or contemplate the lynchings, and the exploitation of us based on our color. Conversely, it’s harder to identify with and feel the pain of others who have also suffered the same violence simply because of who they are. This is not so now for me. Why? Because after I heard Ambassador Erdan described how three of his grandparents were killed in Nazi concentration camps, and he

hearing my story my family’s trauma, I believe both of us now weep not only from our experience but from the other’s as well”

 

Robert Nicholson, Esq, Founder and President of the Philos Project, recognizes that this trip has significance beyond learning about the challenges and triumphs of Black people in America but that it has import for forging a necessary bond between the state of Israel and Black America. He states that, “The Black community is the conscience of America; the Jewish people is the conscience of history. By bringing the two together on this momentous trip; by educating Israeli audiences on the heroic experience of Black people in America; and by strengthening the ties of friendship between Black Americans and Israel, we are sending a statement to both countries and to the world that all peoples, nations, and races are made in the image of God.” Rev. DeeDee Coleman, a leading figure in Black-Jewish relations from Detroit, MI affirms that the Ambassador’s trip is important to the Black Amerian plight: “ I am assured, that in whatever position he holds, he will be a voice to Israel, the Jewish community, and the world on behalf of Black America. When others ask questions and wonder, he will be able to give answers and advise. I do thank the Ambassador for believing that all men are made in the image of God, and for caring enough to ask how he can be of service to the people.

 

Full list of participants:

Gilad Erdan, Israel’s Ambassador to the United States and United Nations

Anat Sultan-Dadon, Consul General of Israel to the Southeast Robert Nicholson, President and Founder, The Philos Project

Rev. Luke Moon, Deputy Director, The Philos Project Rev. Dr. Deedee Coleman, Senior Pastor, Leading Figure in Black-Jewish Relations, Detroit, MI

Rev. Horace Sheffield III, Senior Pastor, Community Activist, and Media Personality, Detroit, MI Dean Harold Bennett, Jr., Seminary Dean and University Professor Mr. Bakari Sellers, Esq., Former Legislator and News Commentator Dr. Eric Lewis Williams, Smithsonian Scholar and University Professor Dr. Jamal-Dominique Hopkins, Seminary Dean and University Professor

Mr. Chavis Jones, Recent Law School Graduate and Civil Rights Activist Ms. Kristina King, Director, African American Affairs, The Philos Project

Rev. Dr. David E. Jackson, Associate Director, African American Affairs, The Philos Project

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