Israeli ambassador tours LDS Church sites in downtown Salt Lake

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SALT LAKE CITY -- Israel's first female ambassador to the United Nations toured downtown sites of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Monday.

It has been amazing, impressive -- I can even say heartbreaking -- to see the kids, the people in need, that these wonderful people, the Mormons, help.

–Gabriela Shalev, Israeli ambassador to the UN

The Honorable Gabriela Shalev took her place at the United Nations two years ago. Despite the challenges of her position, she made many friends in New York City, including Latter-day Saints who invited her to come to Utah.

Shalev toured Temple Square Monday afternoon. She also saw The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' Welfare Square and humanitarian center. She came, she said, because of friendship.

"We share the human values, and we share the importance of education and the wish to make the world we live in a better place," Shalev said.

"It has been amazing, impressive, I can even say heartbreaking to see the kids, the people in need, that these wonderful people, the Mormons, help," she continued.

Since her appointment in the summer of 2008, Shalev says she has tried to improve her country's standing at the United Nations -- not an easy task for Israel.

"Many people in Israel and here say the U.N. really has finished its function," Shalev said. "But still, may I add that the U.N. has a very, very important position and role to play in the world, in the humanitarian part of it."

Who is... Dr. Gabriela Shalev
Ambassador Gabriela Shalev is Israel's fourteenth Permanent Representative to the United Nations. She began her tenure on September 3, 2008, marking the first time a woman was appointed to this post. Previously, Ambassador Shalev served as President of the Academic Council and Rector of Ono Academic College in Israel. Until her early retirement in 2002, she was a full professor of contract law at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and has taught contract law and comparative law in universities across the U.S., Europe, and Canada.

The on-going conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians still results in violence and accusations, but Shalev believes peace talks will resume.

"We are willing to discuss everything, everything," she said. "And I do hope the way is now paved for these bilateral talks; and you know, without hope there is no way to live."

This trip to Salt Lake City is part of the ambassador's farewell tour. She will leave the United Nations to return to the world of academics at a college in Israel at the end of August.


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Carole Mikita


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