Aviv Ezra, the Atlanta-based deputy consul general of Israel, concluded his luncheon address at the Kiwanis Club of Atlanta downtown on June 7 by holding up a pill between his right hand’s thumb and forefinger for all the attendees to see.
“Just think what we could do together if there was more cooperation with Israel,” he said following a detailed review of his government’s relations with the Palestinian National Authority.
The pill, he explained, was not just a pill but a capsule containing a miniscule camera that may be swallowed to detect cancer cells in the small intestine. Given Imaging Inc., the Israeli company that developed the endoscopic technology, has located its North American headquarters in Norcross.
Mr. Ezra was using the capsule as an example of the sorts of technologies Israeli companies and their Georgia partners could develop, as opposed to military technologies, should there be a successful conclusion to the peace initiative of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.
Although a timeline for peace in the region is not certain, business development, especially in the biotechnology industry, continues to grow for Israeli companies in Georgia like Given Imaging, Mr. Ezra said.
He called both Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue and former Gov. Roy Barnes “friends of Israel” and praised the efforts of the American-Israel Chamber of Commerce, Southeast Region, for developing Georgia-Israel business and educational ties.
Still, Atlanta could do better at marketing itself to Israel as a good location for investment, Mr. Ezra added. Although Given Imaging is one of some 50 Israeli companies with offices in the metro Atlanta area, he said that Atlanta still is not very well known among Israel’s 6.5 million inhabitants.
Mr. Ezra has been stationed in Atlanta since 2002 as the second-highest ranking Israeli diplomat in the region after Consul General Shmuel Ben-Shmuel.
Mr. Ezra was previously with the Department of Israel-Middle East Economic Development in Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, where he worked to further economic relationships between Israel and nearby countries, including Egypt, Jordan and Mauritania. He was stationed in Cairo, Egypt, as head of the Israeli embassy’s economic and trade affairs division, where he focused on agrotechnology and energy trade between Israel and Egypt.
To learn more about Kiwanis programs, go to www.kiwanisatlanta.org. To reach Mr. Ezra, call (404) 487-6500 or visit http://atlanta.mfa.gov.il/mfm/web/main/missionhome.asp?MissionID=69&