During a visit to the Bronx on Jan. 28, Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin stressed ties between the borough and his home country. As he described the wide range of political parties and religious groups in Israel, his host, Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., interjected, “It sounds like Bronx politics as well, Mr. President.”
“Oh, I am sure, I am sure,” the visiting head of state said on the stage the men shared at the Bronx Museum of the Arts. “Because of that, I think we are so much the same. Because of that, I came to your city. I know what you are feeling.”
Mr. Rivlin’s visit — the first time an Israeli president has come to the Bronx, according to organizers — came days after Mr. Diaz and 11 Latino business and civic leaders returned from a five-day trip to Israel.
The Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) of New York helped organize both visits. The goal was to boost ties between the borough rebounding from years of high crime and the country perennially struggling with terrorism and other threats.
“I really see the importance of the start-up we all are creating together, you in the Bronx and we in Israel,” Mr. Rivlin told an audience of Bronx movers and shakers including business people and elected officials. “Israel is a combination, a coalition of all minorities. ... One day, minorities with come together with other minorities and will become the majority.”
Mr. Rivlin explained that he wanted to visit the Bronx since Latinos, the borough’s largest ethnic group, “are going to become the majority, not as Latinos, but as Americans.”
In his remarks, Mr. Diaz said Israel and the Bronx can benefit from each other.
“Our employment is up, our crime is down, housing is headed in the right direction and what we want to do is share that with Israel,” he said. “We want Israel to share with us some of the successes that you’ve had in these areas as well.”