Meeting Israel's emissary to the US. Ambassador Herzog

One of Herzog’s main challenges will be maintaining US bipartisan support for Israel.

 Ambassador Mike Herzog (photo credit: Dan Kitri)
Ambassador Mike Herzog
(photo credit: Dan Kitri)

On September 13, I drove with Greer Fay Cashman to the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Givat Ram Campus to attend what was billed as “A farewell event for Mike Herzog” at The Jewish People Policy Institute (JPPI). The Jerusalem-based think tank, headed by Prof. Yedidia Stern, organized the send-off for Brig.-Gen. (Res.) Herzog, one of its top research fellows, before he takes up his new post as Israel’s ambassador to the US in October.  

Herzog, 59, sat at a table on the university lawn with his wife, attorney Shirin Herzog, and their son and daughter, surrounded by colleagues and friends, for the event moderated by JPPI’s Maj. (Res.) Dan Feferman. The younger brother of President Isaac Herzog, Mike is the son of the late Chaim Herzog, the eloquent sixth president of Israel, and Aura Herzog, 96, who founded the Council for a Beautiful Israel. 

Mike was heaped with praise and advice from former prime ministers Ehud Barak and Benjamin Netanyahu, JPPI co-chairs Ambassadors Dennis Ross and Stuart Eizenstat, former envoys Sallai Meridor and Danny Dayan, retired Supreme Court President Miriam Naor and Hussein Agha, a member of the Palestinian team that negotiated the Oslo Accords.

Agha said succinctly, “Mike is a natural diplomat... It’s in his DNA.”

Barak, who appointed Herzog as his chief of staff when he served as defense minister, said this new position is a perfect fit. 

“The special triangular relationship between Israel, the United States and the American Jewish community is an asset,” Barak said. “It is essential to renew the mutual respect and intimate discourse at the top.”

Netanyahu congratulated Herzog, saying, “I know Mike.... He has all the necessary skills to be a loyal and excellent representative of the State of Israel.”

In his first public comments since being appointed to the post by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, Herzog apologized in English for addressing the small gathering in Hebrew and said he believed people entering office should say less and do more. 

“I strongly believe in the Israeli-American alliance,” he said. “I believe in the values ​​on which it is founded. I believe in its future, and I believe that it should be turned into a two-way partnership.”

He paused, then added: “I have never been a politician, and I never intend to be. I am going to represent the State of Israel as a diplomat and not a political figure. I represent an unprecedentedly broad government in Israeli politics. I am happy to say that in addition to the government itself, the prime minister, the alternate prime minister and other members of the various sectors who welcomed my appointment and voted unanimously in favor, the opposition leader also called me and congratulated me on the appointment. I see this as an asset of someone who represents a wide range of Israeli society.”

New Israeli Ambassador to the US, Michael Herzog. (credit: Courtesy)New Israeli Ambassador to the US, Michael Herzog. (credit: Courtesy)

One of Herzog’s main challenges will be maintaining US bipartisan support for Israel, an issue he tackled as part of his purview at JPPI. “Since I was appointed to the position, I have been preparing an orderly action plan to deal with the matter,” he said. 

As we wish Ambassador Herzog godspeed, may he be inspired by the memorable lines from his father’s famous speech to the UN General Assembly in 1975 when as Israel’s envoy, Chaim Herzog symbolically tore up the “Zionism is Racism” resolution. “Over the centuries it has fallen to the lot of my people to be the testing agent of human decency, the touchstone of civilization, the crucible in which enduring human values are to be tested,” he said. “A nation’s level of humanity could invariably be judged by its behavior towards its Jewish population.”