Israel National Defense College Graduates Gain Philly Perspective


The 48 graduates were briefed by local security leaders on the challenge of providing security for a major U.S. city.

Forty-eight soon-to-be graduates of the Israel National Defense College (INDC) swept through Philadelphia last week as part of a pre-graduation tour of the United States.

After visiting historic sites around the City of Brotherly Love on May 15, the group filed into City Hall for a briefing from Joe Sullivan, chief inspector of the Philadelphia Police Department, Janelle Miller; the assistant special agent-in-charge for the local branch of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; and councilman at-large David Oh, who hosted the collection of army officers from Israel and abroad.

During the briefing, which was introduced by Yaron Sideman, consul general of the Israeli Consulate to the mid-Atlantic region, who was guiding the group around Philadelphia, Sullivan and Miller discussed the challenges of providing security for a major metropolitan area, emphasizing the importance of collaboration.

Among the challenges discussed: the recent Amtrak train that derailed near Port Richmond, killing eight people and injuring over 200 more, which placed the city’s rescue and response teams under the national microscope; the way police handle protests and rallies, particularly in the wake of the Baltimore protests; and the upcoming visit of Pope Francis to Philadelphia. Sullivan predicted that the Pope’s visit will result in the largest event in the city’s history and will test the Philadelphia Police Department’s capacity to secure such a massive gathering.

Leon Scoratow, a 39-year-old Jewish ship commander in the U.S. Navy, who is originally from Pittsburgh and now lives in Washington, D.C., is a member of INDC’s graduating class and said he has enjoyed acting as an unofficial tour guide for his peers.

“Seeing the United States lens through the eyes of the Israelis has been interesting — we’re so similar,” said Scoratow, noting that Tel Aviv, where he has been living during his time at INDC, has a very American vibe. “When there are differences that are obvious, it’s surprising to see them — Americans don’t have to deal with some of the things Israelis deal with on a regular basis.”

The group also stopped for lunch at the Jewish Community Services Building to hear from Naomi Adler, CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia.

She discussed the trials facing the Jewish community in Philadelphia.

“It’s been fascinating to learn about how some 250,000 Jews live among 1.5 million people,” said Ilan Levy, an Israel Defense Forces artillery officer from Netanya. “Seeing how Jews live among the greater populace here — it doesn’t look easy to maintain Jewish identity in the United States.”


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