Houston Mayor Annise Parker Presented with JINSA’s 2010 Houston Leadership Award

A crowd of 500 local luminaries gathered on October 4 to pay tribute to Houston Mayor Annise Parker who was honored with JINSA’s Houston Leadership Award.

A crowd of 500 local luminaries gathered on October 4 to pay tribute to Houston Mayor Annise Parker who was honored with JINSA’s Houston Leadership Award.

Mayor Parker, an elected official for the past 13 years, was honored for her long service and commitment to the people of Houston. The evening’s keynote speaker was Hon. Avraham “Avi” Dicter, a former Israeli Minister for Internal Security and head of the Israel Security Agency. Community leaders Glen Rosenbaum and Ed Wulfe were event co-chairmen.

Annise Parker, the 18th recipient of the Houston Leadership Award, was elected to the Houston City Council in 1997 and served as Controller from 2004-2009. Houston is the fourth largest city in the United States with a metropolitan area population of 5.9 million. Prior to her entry into politics, for nearly two decades Mayor Parker worked in the oil and gas industry.

Avi Dicter, currently a member of the Israeli parliament, served for 26 years at the Israel Security Agency (also known as the Shin Bet or Shabak, the Israeli equivalent to our FBI) rising to head of the agency in 2000 and retiring in 2005.

Attending the gala event held at the InterContinental Hotel were City Council members, judges, law enforcement and military personnel and politicians including Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), community leaders as well as JINSA board members and officers. Newly installed JINSA President David Ganz delivered remarks on JINSA’s recent activities.

It was noted from the podium that of the more than 11,000 law enforcement personnel JINSA has trained in the latest Israeli counter-terrorism tactics through its Law Enforcement Exchange Program (LEEP) over the past seven years, six officers from Houston participated in the week-long program in Israel while many more participated in a two-day LEEP conference held in Austin in 2008. The day after the Oct. 4 dinner, 50 more Houston-area law enforcement officers from a variety of agencies attended a special counter-terrorism briefing given by Dicter.

About such counter-terrorism training, Mayor Parker said, “We understand that [Houston] might not be a first-tier terrorist target of domestic or international terrorism, but we also very fully understand the impact of a well-placed explosive device near one of our refineries,” she said. “We understand the impact on the U.S. economy if our port is targeted. We understand that we are a gateway city to the United States for narco-terrorists from Mexico, and there is an all too porous border that allows many other types of terrorists access to our country …We will do what we must do to stem the breach for the rest of the United States.” [Click here to listen to the full audio of Mayor Parker’s acceptance speech.]

JINSA Board Member Gary Stein introduced Avi Dicter. In his address, Israeli parliamentarian discussed Israel’s prospects for peace, a potentially nuclear weapons-armed Iran, Hamas’ continuing rocket assault on Israel, and prospects for future Palestinian statehood. [Click here to listen to the full audio of Dicter’s address.]

Click here to read about the event in Houston’s Jewish Herald-Voice.