By THÉRÈSE MARGOLIS
Israel and Mexico celebrated the 70th anniversary of bilateral diplomatic ties with a gala concert by Mexico’s Fine Arts Chamber Orchestra at the Palacio de Bellas Artes (Palace of Fine Arts) on Thursday, Feb. 2.
The sold-out performance, which was part of a series of cultural activities organized by the Israeli Embassy in Mexico in cooperation with Mexico’s National Institute of Fine Arts and Literature (INBAL) to commemorate the anniversary, was led by guest conductor Luis Samuel Saloma of Mexico, and included the participation of Israeli solo violinist Evgenia Epshtein and the Mexican solo violinist Adrián Justus.
Among the works performed were opuses by European composers Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Johann Sebastian Bach, as well as by Israelis Marc Lavry (considered to be the father of modern Israeli classical music) and Mexican Carlos Jimenez Mabarak.
The highlight of the concert was a musical portmanteau of Mexico’s emblemic “Cielito Lindo” with the Israeli favorite and unofficial anthem” Yerushalayim Shel Zahav” (“Jerusalem of Gold”), during which members of the audience were invited to join in singing.
Cohosting the performance was Israeli Ambassador to Mexico Zvi Tal, who later said that the concert was “a symphonic manifestation of the strings of friendship that have united Israel and Mexico” for seven decades.
Israel and Mexico formalized their binational diplomatic ties in July 1952, two years after Mexico officially recognized Israel as a sovereign nation.
Historically, commercial and economic relations have been fostered in part by the 45,000-member-strong Jewish community in Mexico, which has not only helped to booster two-way trade and investment, but has also contributed substantially to the Mexican economy.
And thanks to a bilateral free trade agreement implemented in 2000, combined bilateral trade now surpasses $1 billion annually.
Currently, Israel is the 18th-largest investor nation in Mexico, with an accumulated foreign direct investment of more than $2 billion.
By the same token, Mexican multinationals have invested significantly in Israel.