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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

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The flavour of Tel Aviv comes to Montreal city hall

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Israeli Consul General Joel Lion, right, shows Mayor Denis Coderre a photo depicting a bicycle-sharing program in Tel Aviv-Jaffa, similar to Montreal’s Bixi. [Janice Arnold photo]

MONTREAL — Mayor Denis Coderre and Israeli Consul General Joel Lion kibbitzed like old pals about bridge building and next year’s hopes for the Habs as they unveiled a photo exhibition of Tel Aviv-Jaffa at city hall.

The 20 images, depicting the vibrant and varied life in Israel’s largest city, were displayed in the magnificent Hall of Honour from May 28 to June 11.

The vernissage of “Tel Aviv: Non-Stop City” was held May 30 with representatives of the Jewish, business and cultural communities present, as well as diplomats from several countries, including Egypt and Russia.

The exhibition marked the 65th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Canada and Israel, and underlined that Montreal and Tel Aviv-Jaffa have been twinned since 1996.

The relationship goes back farther than that. Coderre noted that in 1961, Mayor Jean Drapeau welcomed Israeli Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion in the very same hall.

Coderre recalled his visit to Israel when he was a Liberal member of Parliament. “It’s good to show a little piece of Israel here,” he said, mentioning the various agreements between Quebec and Israel and their shared democratic values.

But Coderre, who was elected in November, couldn’t resist the opportunity to boost his city.

“Montreal is back,” he said. “We all have to work together to make this a great metropolis and to shine again.”

He applauded Lion, who is returning to Israel this summer after three years, for the efforts he has made to build bridges with Quebecers. Diversity is good, Coderre said, and one of Montreal’s assets.

The exhibition, which has been touring internationally, is a project of the Tel Aviv-Jaffa municipality, which invited residents to contribute their photos. More than 10,000 submissions were received.

Those selected for this show offer an impression of a modern, tolerant Mediterranean city, a financial and technological hub, with a bustling street life and a youthful and pluralistic population. It is apparently living up to its 1909 founders’ vision of creating “the New York of the Middle East.”

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