Surfside mayor proposes ‘sister city’ pact with Israeli settlements in West Bank

Surfside Mayor Shlomo Danzinger poses in entrance of Town Hall on March 23, 2022.

Pedro Portal

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Surfside Mayor Shlomo Danzinger is proposing that the small seashore city that was rocked final yr by the Champlain Towers South collapse set up a “sister city” relationship with a area consisting of Israeli settlements within the occupied West Bank.

Danzinger positioned a resolution on the Town Commission’s Sept. 28 assembly agenda recommending that Surfside enter right into a partnership with the area of Shomron — which incorporates about three dozen Israeli settlements within the northern West Bank — and honor Shomron Regional Council Chairman Yossi Dagan with a ceremonial key to the city.

In explaining the proposal, Danzinger, who was elected as Surfside’s first Orthodox Jewish mayor in March, recommended the sister metropolis settlement would permit Surfside to “show our appreciation and support to the people and the state of Israel” in gentle of an Israeli search and rescue staff’s efforts after the constructing collapse that killed 98 folks final June.

“In this gesture, the Town of Surfside can show its appreciation to Israel, who was here for us in our darkest hour,” Danzinger’s decision reads.

Sister metropolis relationships can contain cultural exchanges and visits by elected leaders, although they’re usually largely symbolic. Still, Danzinger’s proposal drew concern from native activists after it turned public Wednesday.

Israeli settlements, outlined as communities of Israeli residents constructed within the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories of the West Bank and Gaza, are extremely controversial and considered illegal under international law, which Israel’s authorities disputes.

“The settlements in the territories are a controversial topic even in Israel,” stated Eliana Salzhauer, a former Surfside commissioner who’s Jewish and whose father was Israeli. “For Surfside to suddenly impose its own view on it, or to take a side or declare solidarity, I don’t see how that’s appropriate.”

Asked if his proposal could also be divisive amongst residents with differing views, Danzinger stated there may be “nothing controversial about standing with Israel.”

“I am representing my constituents by taking steps to further enhance our relationship with one of America’s closest allies in the world,” he stated.

Danzinger’s decision notes that Israeli residents within the Shomron area have been victims of assaults by Palestinians, suggesting Surfside residents can relate to their scenario.

“Israelis living in Shomron have remained strong because of their resiliency and the region continues to flourish,” Danzinger instructed the Miami Herald in an e-mail. “This is something that we can understand after the devastating collapse in Surfside.”

A member of the Israeli search-and-rescue staff salutes throughout a prayer ceremony in entrance of the rubble left by the collapse of Champlain Towers South in Surfside. Jose A Iglesias Miami Herald

Danzinger stated he met with Dagan when the Shomron council chairman paid a current go to to Miami. The mayor stated he had already been hoping to associate with a metropolis in Israel after the Champlain rescue efforts, and that “the idea just clicked” as he was talking with Dagan.

“I could have easily chosen a city in Israel with a beach or something more touristy, but this connection has real substance,” Danzinger stated.

Surfside wouldn’t be the primary native authorities to enter right into a sister metropolis settlement with the Shomron Regional Council. Nassau County, situated on the western a part of Long Island, New York, signed a similar agreement earlier this yr, six years after the county’s largest city, Hempstead, had achieved the identical.

Surfside has a big Orthodox Jewish inhabitants and is dwelling to a number of synagogues, together with The Shul and Young Israel.

The city turned the topic of controversy in June when Danzinger and different elected officers voted to not fly an LGBTQ Pride flag at Town Hall, citing considerations about probably being pressured to fly different flags requested by exterior teams.

Danzinger stated in June that he was reluctant to have the city make symbolic gestures for causes that don’t relate to city enterprise.

Aaron Leibowitz covers town of Miami Beach for the Miami Herald. He was beforehand a municipal authorities reporter masking cities round Miami-Dade County.

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