Dateline Philadelphia, PA
On Wednesday, July 11, 2018 at the National Liberty Museum in Philadelphia, Tunisia’s Ambassador to the United States, His Excellency Faycal Gouia handed the official credentials to that country’s newest diplomatic representative, as Jerry Sorkin becomes the Honorary Consul for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, representing the Republic of Tunisia.
Tunisian-American relations date back to the 18th century. The announcement of a Consulate in Pennsylvania is the latest effort on the part of Tunisia to further the long-held relations between the United States and the Republic of Tunisia.
The appointment of Jerry Sorkin as the Honorary Consulate is not a surprise to the many Tunisians who have known him during his nearly four-decade relationship with the country. “A great friend of Tunisia, a successful entrepreneur and an advocate of strong and mutually beneficial bonds between Tunisia and the United States, Mr. Jerry Sorkin is a motivated and enthusiastic representative of Tunisia in Philadelphia”, notes Tunisia’s Ambassador to Washington, Faycal Gouia. “We are sure he will help further develop our economic, trade, investment and tourism relations with Pennsylvania and enhance cultural and people-to-people exchanges
“Jerry’s keen knowledge of Tunisia, its assets and challenges will allow him to be the best representative in Philadelphia and the Commonwealth for the country where he has lived, worked and made so many friends”, notes Oussama Romdhani, Editor of the prestigious, London based, English language Arab Weekly. “Jerry brings unique insight as to why this small North African country is today, a rare success story of democratic transition in the Middle East and North Africa and a potential locomotive for growth and prosperity in the whole Mediterranean.” Romdhani, a former Minister of Communication in Tunisia, dates his friendship with Sorkin back to 1981. “Jerry has been doing the work of a diplomat, even before holding this new position of Honorary Consul, from the various roles he has played as an entrepreneur, tourism professional and friend of the county. With his appointment, the momentum will only build. Tunisia and the US will reap the benefits of his efforts.”
“In many ways, Jerry is the quiet diplomat,” notes Akram Khalifa, another longtime Tunisian friend and a Beirut based officer with the U.N. “He has spent many years behind the scenes as a Citizen Diplomat, using his tourism business to try and build bridges and greater understanding for Americans on issues ranging from the democratization process in Tunisia, clarifying issues between Americans and Iranians, Israelis and Palestinians and Americans and Cubans. So, he brings this natural affinity to the position of representing Tunisia with the skills of a seasoned diplomat.”.
“He’s the perfect choice to represent our country”, notes Badreddine Badreddine, a Tunisian executive who is with a French multi-national company operating in Tunisia. “Jerry knows our country as few people do and has always been on the forefront of promoting Tunisia and helping Americans get to know us better. This will be a real plus and a wonderful opportunity for Tunisia!”
Sorkin returned to Philadelphia in January 2016 after living more than six years in Tunisia, where he based operations for TunisUSA, as well as doing consulting on projects on cultural tourism with The World Bank and the European Union, in addition to serving as the Director for an academic program in Tunisia with George Washington University’s School of Tourism Studies. He continues to return to Tunisia frequently. His tourism operations have since expanded and morphed into Iconic Journeys Worldwide, a company which organizes cultural and academic travels to many international destinations for organizations and private individuals. Conde Nast Traveler magazine has named him a “Top Travel Specialst” eight times for Tunisia and in December 2017, added him as a specialist for Iran, as well.
With both undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, Sorkin is conversant in Arabic, French and Hebrew. He is a guest instructor on the Middle East and North Africa at Temple University’s Osher Institute.
The Republic of Tunisia will mark the 55th country in the Consular Corps Association of Philadelphia.
NOTE: A video of the ceremony, including opening remarks by Consular Corps Association of Philadelphia President, Peter Longstreth, His Excellency Faycal Gouia and acceptance by Honorary Consul Jerry Sorkin, both in English and Arabic can be found on the link below.