Interview with Michael Herzog, Israel’s new Ambassador to the United States
Acknowledging the fraying of ties between Israel and certain segments of the American Jewish community, Michael Herzog, Israel’s new ambassador to the United States, reached out.
In his first interview since being approved for the post by the Israeli government earlier this month, Herzog, a retired brigadier general, longtime academic and diplomatic envoy, said Jewish initiate, “I would like the Jews of America to feel that when we talk about Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people, they are somehow involved. ”
“I think what needs to be done is foster a dialogue with as many Jewish groups as possible – the tent is big and we need to talk to everyone inside the tent,” Herzog continued. “I want to bring a message of dialogue and bridge building. “
Herzog, the grandson of former Chief Rabbi of Israel Yitzhak Halevy Herzog, son of sixth Israeli President Chaim Herzog and older brother of current Israeli President Isaac Herzog, will need his full pedigree as he occupies Israel’s most important diplomatic post in a perilous context. time in relations between Israel and the United States, and the Israelis and American Jews.
“My background is relevant in more than one way,” Herzog told JI. “I grew up in a family where my grandfather was chief rabbi, my father president – elements of Jewish destiny and solidarity were a fundamental part of my upbringing. “
It was these foundational principles that guided Herzog, 69, through a 40-year career in the IDF, as chief of strategic planning, then as chief of staff and military secretary for four. former defense ministers. For 25 years, Herzog also actively participated in behind-the-scenes peace negotiations with Israel’s neighbors, including the Palestinians, and from 2009 to 2014 was an official peace envoy.
Most recently, Herzog has spent the last decade at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and the Jewish People Policy Institute, researching and writing extensively on nearly every issue he will now address in Washington.
“Mike Herzog is an inspired choice to be ambassador to the United States,” former US diplomat Dennis Ross, co-chair of the JPPI board of directors, recently said at a farewell event in Jerusalem, also. broadcast on Zoom, for Herzog at the institute. .
Tevi Troy, a senior member of the Bipartisan Policy Center and a former senior White House official in the administration of George W. Bush, told JI that Herzog “comes at a difficult time for US-Israel relations.”
“He must rebuild relations with the Democrats, who are increasingly divided over Israel; expand support for Israel within a divided Jewish community; and try to find a way to keep the United States and Israel on the same page when it comes to thwarting Iran’s nuclear ambitions, ”Troy said. “And, like any Israeli ambassador to the United States, he needs to think about what he wants as a long-term legacy of a typically short-term tenure.”
“It’s a great honor to do this job, I don’t take it lightly,” said Herzog, who is awaiting accreditation from the Biden administration before moving to Washington next month. “I am preparing very seriously for this job and since there are open and very urgent issues, I will have to get started immediately.”
Herzog succeeds Israeli Ambassador Gilad Erdan – who will retain his post as Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations – and says he plans to follow up on issues raised during Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s recent visit to Washington.
Iran above all. “We are at a crossroads where there will or will not be a [nuclear] and there will be specific dialogue and strategies, so that will be a main issue for me to deal with vis-à-vis the administration.
Herzog also said he would also focus on “the need for broad bipartisan support for Israel in the United States,” as well as combating the “international campaign to delegitimize Israel, which is also prevalent in the United States. United “.
At the JPPI farewell event, former US Ambassador to the EU Stuart Eizenstat, also co-chair of the institute, urged Herzog to welcome legitimate criticism of Israel, but to clarify. that supporting the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement targeting the Jewish state is overwhelming. He suggested that Herzog quickly educate progressive lawmakers in Congress, listen to them, and engage with them.
“My post is really going to show the diversity of Israel,” Herzog told JI. “We are a very diverse, open society and certainly far from stereotypes [associated with Israel], and we have to say it very clearly.