In a departure from usual practices, both President Isaac Herzog and his wife Michal took to the podium at the annual pre-Rosh Hashanah reception that the president hosts for heads of foreign diplomatic missions and honorary consuls general in Israel.
The event lacked the grandeur that the Herzogs had experienced two nights earlier at Buckingham Palace. There, they attended a reception hosted by King Charles for world leaders who had come to attend the funeral of Queen Elizabeth and pay their respects.
In contrast to the somber black that she had worn throughout her two days in London, Michal was attired in a brilliant strawberry pink pants suit.
The event had been scheduled to start at 4:45 p.m., but most of the guests arrived an hour earlier and gathered beneath the pergola leading to the main hall, where waiters and waitresses moved about with long, narrow trays laden with delicacies. There was also a beverage buffet. Chairs and tables had been set out in the garden, and there were also a few beneath the pergola. Most of the guests preferred to chat beneath the pergola rather than within the garden despite the mild weather.
At 4:45 p.m., the Herzogs came out to mingle with their guests, and were instantly surrounded by people who wanted to shake their hands, pose for selfies with them or take pictures of colleagues alongside them. Some also stopped to exchange pleasantries. The atmosphere was very convivial and conversations were frequently punctuated by laughter.
Among the guests was Khaled Al Jalahma, the Ambassador of Bahrain, who, tonight, will be named Ambassador of the Year by the Ambassadors’ Club of Israel. Al Jalahma told The Jerusalem Post that, after a long search, he had finally found suitable premises in Herzliya for an embassy, and was planning a grand opening once renovations and security systems were completed. The mingling continued until 5:30 p.m.
Herzog reflects on London visit
Herzog shared some of his impressions from his London visit and said that he was pleased by the warmth towards Israel and the interest from every corner of the world in Israel’s capabilities in a variety of fields.
He described Queen Elizabeth as “a woman of valor,” which is the highest accolade that can be given to a woman in Jewish tradition.
Herzog wished Prime Minister Yair Lapid success in his mission to the United Nations General Assembly.The president also shared some thoughts about Rosh Hashanah, which he said was a time of repentance as well as one for changing course and charting a new path.
In this context, he said that the Abraham Accords presented a “historic turning point” and created a new historic undercurrent in the Middle East, which he hoped would lead to a sustainable peace.
He asked all the diplomats present to play a role in this growing Middle East partnership, declaring that each partnership and friendship that Israel had formed “is a bond we cherish.”
Herzog emphasized that Israel truly believes that all people of faith – be they Jewish, Christian, Moslem or any religion – should live in peace in the Middle East.
While the Abraham Accords are cause for celebration, there are still many challenges to face, said Herzog, listing the nuclear threat and climate change as paramount challenges.
Michal said that she wanted to share some thoughts after her “first incredible year” as the wife of the president of Israel.
Aware that some of those present already knew that her father had been a military attaché in Latin America and Canada, Michal said that living in these countries as a child had enhanced her worldview and informed her overall perspective, which helped her in her present role.
Although she is a criminal lawyer by profession, much of her time has been spent in promoting emotional well-being and mental health.
She also talked about the effectiveness of soft power and said that Queen Elizabeth had given the ultimate display of soft power.
Zambian Ambassador and Dean of the Diplomatic Corps Martin Mwanambale, in his own reference to the Abraham Accords, said that he hoped they would serve to resolve the Palestinian issue.
At the conclusion of the ceremony, Herzog approached US Ambassador Tom Nides and took him to a far corner for a tete a tete.