Bobby Brown could be New York envoy

Bobby Brown could be New

By GIL STERN STERN HOFFMAN
December 21, 2009 01:50
3 minute read.

On the same day that the cabinet on Sunday approved some 18 new ambassadorial and consul-general appointments, speculation was rife about still unannounced appointments to top posts at the UN, as well as in New York and Boston. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman are expected to discuss the appointments one-on-one in upcoming days. Lieberman had originally planned to appoint Netanyahu's former spokesman Shai Bazak as consul-general in New York and former New York consul-general Alon Pinkas as Israel's new envoy to the UN. The appointments passed the civil service commission and a committee in the Foreign Ministry. But the Pinkas appointment generated animosity from some in the Likud opposed to the appointment of a former Labor Knesset candidate who then went to Uzi Dayan's Tafnit party, as well as from some in the leadership of Jewish organizations in the US. Bazak, meanwhile, was opposed by some in the Prime Minister's inner circle. As a result, neither Pinkas nor Bazak appeared on the long list approved Sunday. While diplomatic officials say that Pinkas' chances of getting the appointment are becoming slimmer, Bazak has a strong patron in deputy foreign minister Danny Ayalon, who - according to the sources - are keeping him in the race for the Boston position, even though his chances of getting the nod for the New York post are receding. Ayalon is a former chairman of Nefesh B'Nefesh, which was founded by Florida millionaire Tony Gelbart, Bazak's business partner. The two became acquainted when Bazak was consul-general in Florida. One scenario being bandied about is that Bazak would be appointed consul-general in Boston and Netanyahu's former Diaspora affairs adviser Bobby Brown would get the nod as consul-general in New York. Brown served in senior positions at the Jewish Agency, was international affairs director at the World Jewish Congress and has been involved with Holocaust restitution for many years. Brown maintains good relations with the prime minister, foreign minister, and deputy foreign minister and has discussed the New York consul-general position with Ayalon and Lieberman, a neighbor of Brown, who lives in Tekoa close by Lieberman's home in Nokdim. He built good relations with New York Jewry when he coordinated the Neeman Commission that was entrusted with handling the question of "who is a Jew?" "The position attracted me because it represents the main conduit between the state of Israel and the American Jewish community," Brown said. "I have devoted my whole life to the connection between the state and the Jewish people. When I made aliyah, I knew I wouldn't be a general or a multimillionaire, but that I could help the relations between Israel and the Diaspora, so that's where I devoted my efforts. "I can't think of anything I would rather be than the representative of Israel to the Jewish world, especially at such an important time." Another scenario that has been raised is that Labor chairman Ehud Barak has requested that Lieberman permit him to appoint a senior security official to the Boston post. If Pinkas is not appointed UN ambassador, two names that have been raised are former ambassador to the UN Dore Gold and the next name on Labor's Knesset list, Einat Wilf. The current ambassador, Gavriella Shalev, could also be allowed to remain in the post until her term ends in October. The Prime Minister's Office and Foreign Ministry have not been in contact with Gold, who has not lobbied for the UN ambassador post but has admitted that he is interested in it. Gold has taken a leading role in defending Israel from the Goldstone Report and in persuading the world to take action against Iran, two issues that the UN ambassador will undoubtedly have to deal with regularly. Gold, who has been a long-time international affairs adviser to Netanyahu, worked with Lieberman when he was Prime Minister's Office director-general. Ayalon has spoken to Wilf about the UN position in the past. Barak is favorable appointing Wilf, but he is keen on her entering the Knesset. Among the envoys approved on Sunday were veteran Russian-language journalist Dorit Gendelman, a Lieberman political appointment, to Moscow; Yossi Gal, currently the ministry's director-general, to Paris; Aryeh Mekel, formerly consul-general in New York and Atlanta and currently the ministry's deputy director general for cultural affairs, to Athens; and Yitzhak Levanon, formerly the ambassador to UN organizations in Geneva, to Cairo.


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