Prosor’s Progress

Israel’s most successful ambassadors were those who bluntly challenged the stacked UN deck and carried the fight to Israel’s detractors.

Ron Prosor 311 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Ron Prosor 311
(photo credit: Courtesy)
“THE JERUSALEM POST" recently featured a list of the 50 most influential Jews. Such lists tend to arouse debate in the same way that hall of fame membership provokes controversy, except that those compiling “The Post’s” list evidently factored in growth potential as well as past performance.
While I too have qualms about some inclusions and exclusions, I believe that the list was remarkably prescient in placing Israel’s new ambassador to the United Nations, Ron Prosor, in the top 20. Unlike others on the list, Prosor is neither a major innovator like Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, nor a senior policy maker a la US Republican House Majority Leader Eric Cantor or Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and definitely not a household name. Clearly his ranking reflects great expectations.
Several of those who previously starred in the post of Israeli ambassador to the United Nations went on to bigger things. One can start with Abba Eban, who became foreign minister, and Chaim Herzog, who owed the presidency to his defiant stand against the 1975 UN resolution equating Zionism with racism.
Obviously, the most striking example of this phenomenon is Netanyahu, whose political career skyrocketed after a successful stint at Turtle Bay.
Israel’s most successful ambassadors were those who bluntly challenged the stacked UN deck and carried the fight to Israel’s detractors, rather than the dealmakers or those who sought damage limitation. This, by the way, has also proven true for American UN ambassadors. Daniel Patrick Moynihan went on to a successful career in the US Senate after boldly treating the United Nations as “a dangerous place,” the title of his book on the institution. Those ambassadors who, in Moynihan’s terms, preferred to “join the jackals,” or in current parlance, “to engage the UN,” consigned themselves to historical oblivion.
Prosor, in addition to being an accomplished career diplomat and former Foreign Ministry director general, has just finished perhaps the most arduous apprenticeship for the job. His last post was that of Israel’s ambassador to Great Britain, a country that he described in a farewell op-ed in “The Daily Telegraph” as the “Western headquarters of the assault on Israel’s legitimacy.”
As ambassador, Prosor fought back with passion and intelligence and invaded the lair of Israel’s enemies. He stated Israel’s case on the “Comment Is Free” page of “The Guardian,” as well as in the other major British dailies. He did not hesitate to call out “The Guardian” for effectively allying with Hamas, or Channel 4 TV for inviting Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to deliver an alternative Christmas message.
Perhaps Prosor’s favorite arena was the campuses. He ventured forth to outlying universities knowing that he would encounter a hostile and perhaps violent reception (he frequently wore body armor), but he invariably managed to face down and then disarm those who would deprive him and Israel of the right to be heard. At one Scottish university he was actually offered a “battlefield” professorial appointment after such an encounter.
While combating the unholy “red-green” alliance between the raucous British left and British Islamists, Prosor also had to simultaneously fight a more insidious establishment anti-Israel wing. The vicious treatment accorded Israel in the “Financial Times” and the “Economist” – two pillars of “the City” – was hardly better than the left-leaning “Guardian” or BBC’s Israel bashing.
This animus towards Israel also accounts for the anomaly that, while it made its peace with former adversaries, including the Greek Cypriot EOKA, Kenya’s Mau Mau and, of course, the IRA (who in Margaret Thatcher’s day bombed the Conservative convention in Brighton in 1984, narrowly missing the prime minister but killing five others), Britain, to this day, has never forgiven pre-State Irgun leader Menachem Begin for his armed struggle against the British Mandate.
As Prosor was making his farewells, Queen Elizabeth traveled to Ireland to seek reconciliation and offer regrets at such national Irish shrines as Croke Park, the site where, in 1920, British forces opened fire at a Gaelic football match killing 13 spectators and one of the players.
The royal family has never paid an official visit to Israel as opposed to numerous visits to Arab countries. On such a hypothetical visit, the queen could express regret at Haifa Bay for Britain’s 1939 White Paper consigning Jews fleeing the Holocaust to the Nazi killing machine. Alternatively, she could have gone to the Jordan River to apologize for a 1922 White Paper amputating Jordan from the Palestine Mandate, thus lopping off the territory needed for a workable two-state solution. Obviously, such a visit is not even contemplated, illustrating the odds Prosor faced.
Prosor will form a formidable pair with Michael Oren, Israel’s erudite ambassador to Washington, in waging the battle of ideas. As a professional and a fighter, he can be expected to unabashedly defend the policies of whatever Israeli government is in power, without badmouthing it in private. As Prosor told the London “Jewish Chronicle” in late May: “I’m not afraid of anyone and I’m very proud of what I represent.”
Contributing editor Amiel Ungar is a columnist for the ‘Makor Rishon’ daily and the national religious monthly ‘Nekuda.’