UN ambassadors meet Herzog, touch base with history and reality

A group of a dozen permanent representatives to the United Nations, led by Israel's permanent representative Ambassador Gilad Erdan came to meet Herzog.

 The Nauru Ambassador to Israel presenting her credentials President Herzog. (photo credit: KOBI GIDEON/GPO)
The Nauru Ambassador to Israel presenting her credentials President Herzog.
(photo credit: KOBI GIDEON/GPO)

The history of the extended Herzog family is so broad and multi-faceted that President Isaac Herzog manages to find some common point of identification with almost every group of people whom he hosts at the President’s Residence.

This was particularly so on Monday, when a group of a dozen permanent representatives to the United Nations, led by Israel’s permanent Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan came to meet him.

Herzog told them that the history of his family is intertwined with the United Nations, beginning with his uncle Abba Eban, who in 1947 was appointed a liaison officer to the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine; and was instrumental in promoting the outcome of resolution 181 which was the partition of Palestine.

Eban remained with the UN until 1959, and from 1950 onwards, he was also Israel’s ambassador to the United States.Her later served as Foreign Minister from 1966-74.

Herzog’s father, Chaim, also served as Israel’s permanent representative to the UN, remaining in the post from 1975-1978. It was during his father’s term, Herzog told his guests, that the UN adopted the infamous resolution equating Zionism with racism, which was eventually abolished in 1991.

NEWLY ELECTED President Isaac Herzog visits the grave of his father, Chaim Herzog, at Mount Herzl Cemetery in Jerusalem earlier this month. (credit: NOAM REVKIN FENTON/FLASH90)NEWLY ELECTED President Isaac Herzog visits the grave of his father, Chaim Herzog, at Mount Herzl Cemetery in Jerusalem earlier this month. (credit: NOAM REVKIN FENTON/FLASH90)

Chaim Herzog is remembered for his tearing up of the resolution and stating “For us, the Jewish people, this resolution based on hatred, falsehood and arrogance, is devoid of any moral or legal value. For us, the Jewish people, this is no more than a piece of paper and we shall treat it as such.”

The younger President Herzog then spoke of the strength of the rule of law in Israel, and the country’s unique political system in which many parties are represented not only in the Knesset but also in the government, and noted that the world at large is not aware of this diversity, or the fact that the future of the government hinges on an Arab non-Zionist party.

Describing Israel as “an open and vibrant nation,” Herzog said: “We did impressive things, and this government is an impressive experiment.”

Despite the complicated geographic arena in which Israel is located, the changes have been immense, he said.He also made the point that Israel is not oppressing Arabs, but rather, it is fighting extremism.

Stating that Israel seeks peace with its neighbors, Herzog said that this was one of the reasons that Israel pulled out of Gaza, and the Palestinian response was increased violence on the part of Hamas.

Herzog was also critical of the UN for consistently discriminating against Israel, and operating according to interests, but was reminded that for all that, Israel is a UN creation.

More than any of his predecessors, Herzog does his homework, and each of the ambassadors appreciated the fact that Herzog was au fait with the present political situations in their countries, and the names of past and present leaders. He spoke to each of the ambassadors individually and asked pertinent questions.

The ambassadors, who visited Israel’s northern border to see how the security threats are so geographically close – and to the southern border where they were similarly briefed on security challenges – also got to see some of Israel’s achievements in different fields of endeavor. They were happy to have had the experience, but admitted that they still have a lot of questions which they will continue to talk about when they are back in New York, and hopefully will bring new ideas to the UN. They also spoke of Israel’s resourcefulness and the importance of cooperation.

Each left with a copy of Noa Tishby’s book – Israel: a simple guide to the most misunderstood country on earth.Herzog recommended it as an excellent book.

Actress, producer and pro-Israel advocate Tishby, who lives in Los Angeles, presented the book to Herzog when she was in Israel in September.