After 60 years, Israel’s man in LA flies the flag

By Tom Tugend, September 26, 2008

For the first time since an Israeli mission was established in Los Angeles in 1948, the blue-and-white flag will fly in front of the Jewish state's consulate general.

Israel's colours will be hoisted alongside the Stars and Stripes and the California state flag in a special ceremony on September 28, capping almost a year of bureaucratic negotiations by consul-general Yaakov Dayan.

When Mr Dayan arrived in 2007, he was puzzled as to why no flag was flying in front of the consulate, nor, as he learned, at any other diplomatic mission in the US. The most common reason given for the low profile was "security", but Mr Dayan did not agree.

"There are Israeli flags flying in front of our missions in much more dangerous places throughout the world, including our embassy in Cairo," he said.

So Sunday's ceremony will feature 60 rabbis blowing shofars, school choirs and entertainers include Israeli and American pop singers Noa Tishby, Macy Gray and Hedva Amrani, while diplomats from various countries, political leaders and church representatives will join the festivities. Two youngsters will win free El Al flights to Israel, where they will visit schools.

The flag itself originally flew over the town of Sderot, regularly exposed to rocket-fire from the Gaza Strip.
President Shimon Peres presented it to Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa when he visited Israel in June, accompanied by Mr Dayan.

Last updated: 5:25pm, September 25 2008