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County Executive Returns From Israel Trip

Meets With Potential CIC Companies and Government Officials

Annapolis (March 3, 2006) - Anne Arundel County Executive Janet S. Owens recently returned from her five-day trip to Israel. The County Executive visited various Israeli companies that have ties to the Greater Baltimore region and contacted businesses with potential interest in the County’s Chesapeake Innovation Center. The trip also included meetings with various leaders of local governments, as well as visits to both educational and medical institutions.

"I am extremely excited, both personally and professionally," said Ms. Owens. "Driving through the West Bank to the City of Jerusalem, you are held in awe at the majesty of the city and its geo-political-religious complexity. The Muslims chant, the Christians ring their church bells and the Jews pray at the Western Wall. When you walk in the old City you feel the weight of history and the weight of the future. You have to be optimistic but remain very guarded."

During the first day in Tel Aviv, the County Executive met with a private equity fund that has invested in one of the Israeli companies in the CIC and explored the possibility of expanding the relationship. Additional meetings are scheduled in Annapolis in two weeks.

Ms. Owens also met with City officials in the City of Ashkelon, just north of Gaza. The City is the sister city of Baltimore and enjoys a very strong relationship with the Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore. Levi Shafran, the Deputy Mayor, enthusiastically explained the plans for growth and the absorption of the re-settlers from Gaza.

"It was fun to see pictures of some of our Baltimore friends in the office of Deputy Mayor Shafran," said the County Executive. "The City of Ashkelon has extremely strong ties to our area."

The County Executive and her husband David Sheehan traveled together and agreed there were several unforgettable highlights of the trip. The first was the visit to Yad Vashem (The Holocaust Museum).

"The experience leaves you emotionally overwhelmed," said County Executive Owens. "The tribute to the 1.5 million children that perished brings tears to your eyes."

A second highlight was meeting with Jerusalem Mayor Uri Lupolianski. Mayor Lupolianski is a deeply religious man and shared his experiences in managing one of the most complex cities in the world. The County Executive and her husband toured the Orthodox Jewishish section of the City and discussed with the Mayor how he governs the many thousands of Jews who do not recognize any governmental authority.

"The Mayor spoke movingly of the need for the U. S. Government to finally establish an embassy in the City, " said Ms. Owens.

The visit to Hadassah Hospital and its shock trauma unit gave the County Executive a first hand view of the Middle East’s potential. The hospital’s mission is to treat everyone-Jews, Christians and Palestinians-with the incredible resources of one of the world’s great hospitals.

"To see Palestinian babies being treated alongside Israeli babies, to see Orthodox Jews waiting to be treated in the ER alongside Palestinians and Muslims offers a ray of hope," said Ms. Owens. "The shock trauma unit, which is closely coordinated with our own shock trauma, recently treated Prime Minister Sharon who remains in Hadassa Hospital. The security is intense but the spirit of the hospital captures you and gives you hope for the future of the Middle East."

The County Executive received formal briefings from Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ambassador Yaacov Levy.

"Israel, in my opinion, is the front line for Western interests," Ms. Owens said. "Everyone we met stated, ‘it’s not easy.’"

Ms. Owens also visited the Knesset and met with one of its members, Dr. Dani Korn, who is a published author on Israeli politics. Dr. Korn will visit Anne Arundel County in September and the County Executive expects to arrange a formal speech by him on the politics of Israel.

"As a practicing Christian, I was touched deeply by the Holy sites," the County Executive said. "We now have a much better view of the complexity of the borders of Israel, the Wall under construction and the diverse points of view among Israelis. I hope to return in the near future."


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