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US Ambassador Dan Shapir. Speaks fluent Hebrew
Photo: AFP
British Ambassador Matthew Gould. Improving every day
Photo: Mati Milstein
Danish Ambassador Liselotte Plesner. Continues to take lessons
Photo: Roi Boshi
Foreign ambassadors take on Hebrew
At least seven envoys serving in Israel speak, study country's official language in bid to create better ties with their Israeli colleagues
What do seven of the foreign ambassadors serving in Israel have in common, apart from being experienced diplomats? They all speak Hebrew, which may help them create better ties with their Israeli colleagues during their service here.

 

The first on the list is British Ambassador Matthew Gould, whose Hebrew is improving every day. US Ambassador Dan Shapiro, who began his term in July, speaks fluent Hebrew and knows how to read and write in Israel's official language.

 

Even better is El Salvador's Ambassador to Israel Susana Hasenson, a Jew with an accent of a native-born Israeli. Her Hebrew is absolutely perfect, and anyone who speaks to her finds it difficult to believe that she wasn't born here.

 

Ivana Levi, who is also Jewish, serves as the Bosnian Herzegovinian ambassador. She learned Hebrew in Israel.

 

Dominican Republic Ambassador Alexander De La Rosa studied Hebrew in Israel and is quite fluent. Another ambassador whose Hebrew keeps improving – as she continues to take lessons – is Liselotte Plesner of Denmark.

 

Last but not least is new Japanese Ambassador Hideo Sato, Ambassador of Japan. Although he is not Jewish, he is nicknamed "the Sabra" as he speaks flawless Hebrew, spent many years in Israel in the past and is well familiar with the country.

 

Sato studied in an Israeli university, worked at the Japanese Embassy in a junior position during his studies, and served as a political advisor before joining the Japanese Foreign Service and becoming a diplomat. He is considered the No. 1 expert on Israel in Japan.

 

The Foreign Ministry advises the rest of the envoys serving in Israel, and the ones slated to arrive in the future, to study Hebrew even if it sounds like a difficult language, explaining that it will help them create better ties and touch people's hearts faster.

 

Yitzhak Eldan, head of the Ambassadors' Club of Israel, has opened a Hebrew school for the foreign envoys. Some 50 ambassadors and diplomats arrived at a meeting held recently, took off their ties and jackets and began battling with Hebrew.

 

 

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