An Anglo contribution to be proud of

Having served alongside Mark Regev for a number of years, I watched a master at work and a patriot in battle.

Mark Regev (photo credit: SAMEH SHERIF / AFP)
Mark Regev
(photo credit: SAMEH SHERIF / AFP)
A few weeks ago the government of Israel voted to appoint Mark Regev, the prime minister’s foreign media advisor and spokesman, as Israel’s next ambassador to the United Kingdom. Although not a mainstay in the domestic Hebrew media, Mark’s international media appearances in defense of the Jewish state, the soldiers of the IDF and Israel’s elected leaders have afforded him legendary status. Jews across the world stand a little taller each time Mark appears on their television screens.
For the past seven years, when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu introduced his staff to international guests he always stopped alongside Mark, and quoting The Guardian called him the “Indefatigable Mark Regev”; a title Mark wore with pride.
Having served alongside Mark for a number of years, I watched a master at work and a patriot in battle.
While Israel is gaining the consummate professional in Ambassador Regev, the prime minister and the State of Israel are also losing a key cog in our ongoing hasbara (public diplomacy) efforts. This void has generated much chatter in Anglo circles. The opening of such a senior and sensitive position has created tremendous buzz and great interest in the Anglo community.
The sparse history of Anglo Knesset members is discussed across Israel’s English-language media every so often. Clearly, Anglos have not had the same impact on our legislature as other immigrant groups have enjoyed. However, to assume that this means Anglos do not play a hugely significant role in national affairs would be a mistake. Characterized by tremendous passion for serving the State of Israel and the Jewish people, ours is a community hungry to be at the forefront of national decision-making.
In recent weeks I have been happily reminded once again of the Anglo community’s great patriotism as dozens of Anglos have consulted me over applying for the important post vacated by Regev. The awesome task of representing Israel to the global media would be overwhelming for many and yet an endless line of Anglos are enthused and inspired to take up the challenge.
It is well worth remembering that Regev is far from an isolated case of Anglos in high places, be it in the Prime Minister’s Office or other key decision-making bodies. I myself am honored to have served Prime Minister Netanyahu for many years as chief of staff, and previously as his bureau chief. Our fantastic ambassador to the United States and fellow Anglo Ron Dermer previously served as Netanyahu’s senior advisor. The prime minister’s foreign policy advisor Dr. Jonathan Schachter made aliya from Chicago, and recently another American-born oleh, Eli Groner, began serving as the PMO’s director general. This trend goes well beyond the “aquarium,” with Dr. Dore Gold spearheading Israel’s diplomatic efforts as director general at the Foreign Ministry and Daniel Taub who recently completed a highly successful term in London as one of our most high-profile ambassadors.
The list could go on, but the pattern is clear. For a relatively small community, English-speakers play a disproportionately prominent role in our national affairs. In many ways, they always have. Legendary figures including Abba Eban, Moshe Arens, Yehuda Avner and of course prime minister Golda Meir spring to mind.
What is the secret behind this Anglo eminence? Much of it has to do with the Zionist values which play such a prominent role in the Jewish communities in which Anglos are raised. Jews in the United States and Canada, Great Britain, Australia, South Africa and elsewhere are so often instilled with an innate love for the Jewish people and a deep, unshakable commitment to Israel.
Anglo Jews are invariably motivated not only to build their lives in Israel, but to make a profound difference when they arrive.
This type of motivation, though, can only flourish with the encouragement of those in power. If anyone is attuned to the skills and values that Anglos bring to the Israeli table, it is Prime Minister Netanyahu. The years that he spent in the United States helped equip the prime minister with a keen insight into the English-speaking world, and has also helped fuel the deep personal relationships he enjoys with so many Anglos. Israel has never had a prime minister with such a deep understanding of the Anglo community. The trust and faith that Prime Minister Netanyahu places in Anglos by appointing them to key positions reflects the importance he attaches to the community’s wealth of talent and ability.
And like any relationship, it is a two-way street. The Anglo community is clearly no uniform political monolith. It spans the spectrum of political thought and allegiance. Yet, there remains widespread communal support for Netanyahu and a great appreciation for his incomparable oratory, his unrivaled ability to communicate Israel’s values and to convey our message to the world. Prime Minister Netanyahu himself is one of the main reasons why so many Anglos, myself included, have been so keen to serve in his administration.
This unique partnership between our prime minister and our community has inevitably prompted huge interest among Anglos to become Mark Regev’s successor, to take on the mantle of being the veritable voice of Israel to the world. The huge success of Australian-born Regev and so many English speakers in the Prime Minister’s Office and other governmental bodies is testament to this special relationship. With that in mind, you can be sure that if an Anglo does step into Regev’s role, Israel will have an outstanding public representative to be proud of.
The writer served as chief of staff to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu until earlier this year and is currently president of 3H Global.