Yaron Sideman arrived in Philadelphia last week to assume the post of consul general of Israel to the Mid-Atlantic region, serving Pennsylvania, Ohio, Delaware, Kentucky and southern New Jersey. As consul general, Sideman is now the region’s highest-ranking Israeli diplomat.
Israel is one of five countries with a consulate in Philadelphia. The other four are Chile, Italy, Mexico and Panama.
Sideman replaces Daniel Kutner, who completed his four-year term last week, and was appointed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as the new deputy director of the North American division.
The consul general is responsible for strengthening relations between Israel and the Mid-Atlantic region by building partnerships for enhanced economic, trade, academic and cultural exchange.
In addition to promoting cultural exchanges, Sideman plans to focus his tenure on commercial cooperation between the region and Israel.
“When it comes to technical, industrial and commercial cooperation, I think there is infinite potential,” Sideman said. “Israeli entrepreneurship in high tech industries is significant in the United States for jobs and economic growth. There is a lot of potential in industrial research, development and innovation. And there are many platforms in Israel that support such collaboration.”
Sideman cited key sectors such as medical devices and renewable energy as those where collaboration already exists, and has “infinite potential.”
A well-seasoned Israeli diplomat, Sideman comes to the consulate most recently from serving as director of congressional affairs at the North America Division of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. His previous positions include head of the North American Desk at Diaspora and Interreligious Affairs Bureau, consul for public affairs at the Consulate General of Israel in New York, and political officer at the Embassy of Israel in Lagos, Nigeria.
Outreach to both Jews and non-Jews is a top priority of the consulate, Sideman said.
“We’re engaged in outreach to many communities,” he said. “By presenting Israel the way it is, with its geopolitical challenges, its potentials, its accomplishments, we can expose Israel, and showcase it to many of those non-Jewish communities.”
Sideman’s previous diplomatic experience exposed him to wide-ranging bipartisan support of Israel in the United States.
“The relationship [between the U.S. and Israel] is rooted in shared values and shared interests,” he said. “It is very important to me to do everything in my capacity to maintain that relationship and expand on it through the arts, through culture and through economics, and to showcase Israel’s pluralism and diversity.”
Sideman joins Deputy Consul General Elad Strohmayer, who arrived in Philadelphia earlier this month.
Strohmayer, 31, served as deputy chief of mission in the Embassy of Israel in Luanda, Angola, from November 2010 through July 2012.
Strohmayer plans to focus on reaching out to “young communities.”
“I want to try to have more young people to be connected to Israel,” said the native of Bat-Yam, Israel, a suburb of Tel Aviv. He plans to participate in “forums of young Jewish professionals,” through agencies such as federations and the American Jewish Committee, to raise Israeli awareness.
Strohmayer also plans to reach out to non-Jewish communities to develop partnerships between the region and Israel.
“It’s all about connections,” he said. “There is a lot of work to do. The previous staff did an amazing job. We want to continue that, and enhance that.”
(Toby Tabachnick can be reached at email@example.com.)