Jerusalem, Israel – A bipartisan group of U.S. mayors is visiting Israel this week with Project Interchange, an educational institute of American Jewish Committee (AJC), in partnership with The U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM).

The program’s intensive sessions and visits throughout the country will enable the mayors to gain a first-hand understanding of Israel’s vibrant democracy, innovative technologies, diverse society, and regional challenges. This is the fifth delegation of U.S. mayors to participate in this annual seminar.

“This experience in Israel provides American mayors the opportunity to learn about and see in person a dynamic and exciting democracy in a complicated part of the world. The U.S. and Israel have had a special relationship ever since Israel’s founding in 1948 and this trip enables U.S. mayors to better understand that relationship as well as to discuss common challenges and to share best practices,” said Tom Cochran, USCM CEO & Executive Director.

“AJC has worked closely with mayors and municipal leaders for decades on issues of mutual concern. This trip is an opportunity for the mayors of American cities to learn about Israel and engage in fruitful exchanges with their Israeli counterparts on approaches to common challenges,” said Melanie Maron Pell, AJC Chief Field Operations Officer, who is accompanying the delegation along with Dov Wilker, Regional Director of AJC Atlanta.

The delegation will travel throughout Israel to meet with municipal and civil society leaders to discuss best practices for leading diverse cities, integrating immigrants, addressing homelessness, and assisting residents living with disabilities. They will also meet with academics and experts on Israeli culture and politics.

In Israel, the delegation will meet both Jewish and Arab municipal officials and visit Israeli hi-tech businesses. The U.S. mayors also will visit the Palestinian city of Ramallah in the West Bank to meet with civic and business leaders, including Palestinians engaged in hi-tech initiatives.

In addition to visiting significant historical, cultural, and religious sites, the delegation will visit Jerusalem, including the Old City, Tel Aviv, and Israel’s borders with Lebanon and Gaza.

The participating mayors include Bryan Barnett, Rochester Hills, MI; Quentin Hart, Waterloo, IA; Indya Kincannon, Knoxville, TN; Jim Ross, Arlington, TX; Andy Schor, Lansing, MI; Scott Singer, Boca Raton, FL; Levar Stoney, Richmond VA; and Vince Williams, Union City, GA.