Eyebrows rose in the Foreign Ministry on Tuesday following reports that
Lieberman has nominated David Sharan, Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz’s
staff, as Israel’s next consul- general in New York.
officials confirmed that the process to approve Sharan’s nomination had
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Lieberman’s nomination of Sharan, a political appointment, comes
just a few days after the foreign minister announced the appointment of Meron
Reuben as the next envoy to the UN.
While the Reuben appointment was
officially deemed “temporary” in order to bypass the need for Lieberman to get
the approval of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Sharan’s nomination will have
to go to the full cabinet for its okay.
Filling both positions has been a
source for disagreement between Netanyahu and Lieberman in recent
prime minister nixed Lieberman’s first choice for the UN job, former
consul-general to New York Alon Pinkas (currently a foreign affairs
the Fox News Channel), as well as his preferred candidate for the New
position, former consul- general in Miami Shai Bazak.
In light of
current tension between Netanyahu and Lieberman over the conversion bill
draft budget – tension they both tried to put behind them at a meeting
night – neither’s office was willing to talk on Tuesday about the Sharan
nomination. Sharan himself was not talking to the media about the matter
In recent months, when Sharan was being bandied about as
candidate for the job in addition to former Netanyahu advisers Bazak,
Brown and Yechiel Leiter, he was not considered inside the Prime
Office as a serious candidate.
The reason, one source said, was
even though he speaks fluent English – he was born in Israel to American
who immigrated in the 1960s – he has no known public diplomacy
expertise in the American Jewish community.
He lived in the US on
as a youth and graduated from a Los Angeles high school in 1988.
diplomatic official said the two main jobs of the consul- general in New
were to act as a liaison with the American Jewish community, something
would become especially sensitive as the conversion issue comes to a
to interface with the many media outlets represented in the American
“Who on earth is David Sharan?” one diplomatic
asked. “He has no name recognition, no proven hasbara [public diplomacy]
or any known expertise on the American Jewish community. If he was the
right-hand man of the prime minister, then I could understand they want
in New York to be their antenna, but this is not the case.”
has an master’s degree in American studies and is a lieutenant-colonel
reserves, is a confidante of Steinitz who has worked with him ever since
finance minister went into politics in 1999.
When Steinitz was
of the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, Sharan,
government sources, developed a close working relationship with a number
senators and representatives.
If his nomination is approved,
replace Assaf Shariv, who was appointed consul-general in 2007 by
minister Ehud Olmert. Shariv served as a spokesman to both Olmert and
predecessor, Ariel Sharon.
In the US, Anti-Defamation League
Director Abraham Foxman told The Jerusalem Post that while he did not
Sharan personally, he was “looking forward to welcoming him.”
that the foreign minister feels that he is capable and able to do the
good enough for me,” Foxman said, adding that Sharan would have “big
fill” in following Shariv.
Sharan’s facility with English, Foxman
was “a good beginning, but it’s a big job, communicating Israel’s policy
representing Israel in its various forms. It’s a job and a half.”
Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of
American Jewish Organizations, characterized the job of consul-general
“24/6,” and said the nomination came at a critical time for Israel’s
with various American communities.
“This is a very important
given the efforts at delegitimization of Israel, both around the world
the United States,” Hoenlein said. “We need someone who can articulate
case, and who will help foster closer ties between Israel and both the
and non-Jewish communities.
Hoenlein said he had heard Sharan’s
was quite good, which “would be very helpful.
He will follow in
tradition of his predecessors, most of whom did outstanding jobs.”
International Connection NY Chairman Jeff Stier said Sharan’s “strong
connections to the US make him especially wellsuited to serve here in
I believe he’ll fit in well with New York’s Jewish community, as well as
political establishment. I look forward to working with him.”