Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai was in Toronto to meet with the Tel Aviv-Yafo Foundation, his city’s international fundraising arm, according to Canadian Jewish News (CJN).
Huldai attended a luncheon at the offices of the investment firm ReichmannHauer Capital Partners in First Canadian Place, which was hosted by Toronto business leaders and philanthropists Justin Linden, Leerom Segal, Michael Serruya and Philip Reichmann, co-founding partner of ReichmannHauer Capital Partners.
During the event, Huldai joked that the reason he’s “schlepping (hauling) all over the world” is to find partners to help support Tel Aviv reach its full potential as a cosmopolitan and entrepreneurial center.
Huldai spoke of the creative and youthful energy that is taking hold of his city and how Tel Aviv has committed to developing a culture that supports youth and their contributions to economic and cultural life.
“We’ve been taking public spaces and transforming them into co-working spaces…and we were one of the first cities in the world to provide free Wi-Fi on the streets, on the beach, so people can sit anywhere and work.”
Huldai, who is serving his fourth consecutive term, noted how Tel Aviv is a growing hub for Israel’s thriving start-up economy, with more than 1,000 start-ups in the city alone, making it the largest per capita start-up center in the world.
More than understanding the needs of Tel Aviv’s residents and giving them “the atmosphere or ecosystem that they need to live,” Huldai emphasized Tel Aviv’s core values.
“These are to be a bastion of democracy, pluralism, art, culture, science, research, rational thinking and a place that’s open to every minority.”
Huldai went on to explain that some development has started in “slum-like” south Tel Aviv, but more work needs to be done. “That’s part of the reason I’m here looking for partners… We haven’t achieved this yet.”
The mayor acknowledged the challenge of the influx of African migrants and said “we cannot ignore them… A human being is a human being. I don’t care if he’s legal or not, and we must do everything in our capacity to care for them… If we treat them well, it’s better for everyone in the city.”