Israel replaces envoy to Australia

Yuval Rotem to replace Naftali Tamir after racist comments about Asians.

naftali tamir 298.88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
naftali tamir 298.88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Israel is sending a new ambassador to Australia, the Foreign Ministry announced Thursday, replacing an envoy who was widely criticized for calling Asians "the yellow race" in a newspaper interview. The Foreign Ministry said it was replacing Naftali Tamir, who drew fire in Israel and Australia and a reprimand from his superiors in October. "Israel and Australia are like sisters in Asia," Tamir had said, explaining why Israel and Australia should cooperate. "We are in Asia without the characteristics of Asians. We don't have yellow skin and slanted eyes. Asia is basically the yellow race. Australia and Israel are not, we are basically the white race." Tamir later denied making the remarks. Mark Regev, a Foreign Ministry spokesman, would not give the reasons for the decision to replace Tamir. When asked whether Tamir was recalled prematurely, Regev declined comment. An ambassador typically serves for three years or longer. Tamir was appointed in 2004, according to the Israeli Embassy's Web site in Canberra. The Foreign Ministry has appointed Yuval Rotem, a former consul in Toronto, to the Australia post.