From car to consul: Former Foreign Ministry driver named envoy to Portugal

Former Foreign Ministry driver named envoy to Portugal.

driving 63 (photo credit: )
driving 63
(photo credit: )
Eitan Mizrahi-Koka, who began his diplomatic career as a chauffeur for the Foreign Ministry, became Israel's consul in Lisbon last week. Mizrahi-Koka, who has been an employee of the ministry for 20 years, moved from behind the wheel to more administrative positions in Middle Eastern affairs, including a brief stint as the consul in Cairo, before receiving his current post. He also served as chairman of the Workers' Committee, where he reportedly opposed many of the ministry's policies. "We had no problems with him there," Simon Roded, head of the ministry's human resources and personnel division, told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday. "He was active in a good way. His experience in the committee was one thing and his diplomatic experience is another thing." Portugal, home to 10 million, is a member of the European Union and NATO. While Mizrahi-Koka knows neither Portuguese, Spanish nor English, Roded said knowledge of the local and international languages of diplomacy was not necessary for the job and that appointees often lacked specialization in their designated region. "He isn't coming to the job without experience or recognition of the issues," said Roded. "He doesn't know Spanish but he will get used to the place. We don't have people that are familiar with Portugal or Spain. We have several people who move around, who get used to new jobs, and he'll have to do that, too." Roded did not attribute any significance to Mizrahi-Koka's aborted appointment in Cairo - he left for personal reasons after a short period of time. Roded refused further comment on the issue. Roded added that ministry officials were not concerned about Mizrahi-Koka's level of experience, and that the appointment process has been carried out according to several standards set in place after the process was reformed last year. Roded stressed that the process was fair and open, although he was reluctant to say what specific qualifications Mizrahi-Koka possessed, beyond that he outshone the other candidates. "I don't need to go into the judgment and the process," Roded said. "His appointment wasn't made by people sitting in a secret room. It wasn't a mysterious process. It happened in a committee with internal as well as external experts." Roded noted Mizrahi-Koka's ability to work with others and to run large administrative operations. "We judged him on several standards and he was the most qualified for the job," said Roded. "He has organizational skill, he can motivate people and run a system. That's one of the most important things." While questions may still surround Mizrahi-Koka's appointment, Roded said that any challenge to his legitimacy would only impede the ministry's diplomatic efforts. "It's hard to go through this process," he said. "If people say that [Mizrahi-Koka is] not qualified, it hurts him. He merited this by himself and not through anyone else."