The Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ appointments committee has been criticized within the ministry for selecting a candidate for Israel’s ambassador to Germany on Wednesday who doesn’t speak German.
The committee, headed by Director General Yuval Rotem, chose MFA Deputy Director General Jeremy Issacharoff for the prestigious role. Issacharoff was picked over eight other candidates, most of whom did speak the language of Goethe.
The criticism against his appointment does not dispute that Issacharoff is a respected and professional diplomat with extensive experience in strategy. He is the most senior diplomat involved in international talks on the issue of the nuclear agreement with Iran and the sanctions imposed on the country.
A source at the MFA said that “with all due respect to Issacharoff’s seniority, it ends with the second he opens his mouth, reads the newspaper or listens to the news on television.” According to them, at the Federal Foreign Office in Berlin, in the Chancellor’s office, in a briefing for German journalists and in public appearances, English is just not enough.
In addition, the appointment of an ambassador to Germany who doesn’t speak the language comes at a time when relations between the two countries are at a low ebb. Chancellor Angela Merkel postponed her scheduled meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, which was planned for May. The official reason was that Merkel was focused on elections, but unofficially, it was understood as a protest against the approval of the Regulation Law.
The Foreign Ministry released a statement on the matter: “Ambassador Jeremy Issacharoff, deputy director general of the Foreign Ministry, is one of the most senior Israeli diplomats and an expert on strategic areas that are relevant to the important relations between Israel and Germany. Language knowledge is not the only criterion for choosing an ambassador. Of course, prior to his arrival in Germany, Ambassador Issacharoff definitely intends to invest in local and language studies.”
The appointments committee also decided on Wednesday to appoint the deputy director general of the Asia desk, Mark Sofer, as Israel’s ambassador to Australia, the deputy director general of economics at the ministry, Yaffa Ben-Ari, as Israel’s ambassador to Japan and Dr. Eyal Propper, deputy head of the Strategic Department, as Consul General in Shanghai.
(Translated and edited by J. Herzog)