Israel is closing its Philadelphia consulate and four others around the world to save money.
The Israeli consulate in Philadelphia almost closed its doors roughly three years ago, but former Mayor Michael Nutter and Jewish community groups campaigned to save it.
This time, it appears the decision is final, says David Allon, president of the Philadelphia-Israel Chamber of Commerce. Allon said he understands the economic pressures, but regrets the connections that’ll be lost between the consul general and his staff and influential people in the region.
“They get to know lay leaders, business leaders, politicians, anywhere from Wilmington to Harrisburg to Philadelphia, the mayor’s office and they really develop an ongoing, strong relationship,” Allon said.
The consulate did not respond to a request for comment, but has said previously that its small staff will operate business as usual until the office closes before the end of the year.
For Israeli citizens like David Ben-Yaacov, closing the local consulate will mean a lot more hassle when it comes time to renew their passports, which has to be done in-person. Ben-Yaacov (father of WHYY/NewsWorks producer Shai Ben-Yaacov) said that process already involves two trips to Center City.
“If I had to go to Washington, D.C. or even New York City to do that, you can imagine, just for that simple act of renewing the passport, I would have to go there twice and it makes the process extremely cumbersome,” he said.
He said he will also miss having a local, political tie to his home country.