Distinguished Former Diplomat Yohanan Meroz, 86

Aluf Benn
Aluf Benn
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Aluf Benn
Aluf Benn

Yohanan Meroz, among the first members of Israel's Foreign Service and a former ambassador to Germany, died Tuesday at the age of 86.

Meroz was born in Germany. He was the son of sex researcher Max Marcuse and was distantly related to the philosopher Herbert Marcuse.

During his diplomatic service Meroz specialized in Israel's relationships with the Western European states.

As an envoy in the Israeli embassy in Paris on the eve of the Six-Day War in June 1967, Meroz received the official announcement of France's arms embargo against Israel, to be employed "if Israel fired the first shot." Meroz registered a strong protest against the embargo, and was told there was no reason for concern because "it won't last for long."

When Meroz returned from Paris, he became deputy director-general for European affairs, followed by ambassadorial posts to Switzerland and to West Germany.

Meroz served in Bonn during one of the most difficult periods for Israeli-German relations, which was marked by harsh exchanged between Prime Minister Menachem Begin and Chancellor Helmut Schmidt.

Following his retirement in the early 1980s from the Foreign Service, Meroz published a book, "Ha'im Haya Zeh Le'shav" ["Was It All for Naught?"], in which he described his experiences as an ambassador and was candidly open about the difficulties and challenges of relations between Jerusalem and Bonn.

Meroz did not begin a second career after his retirement, but he maintained his contacts in Germany and wrote articles on Israeli-European relations.

Meroz's wife, Yael, died about two months ago. Former Foreign Ministry Director-General Yossi Hadas, who had worked with Meroz for many years, said of his former colleague:

"He was ruler-straight. He never belonged to any clique and never gossiped. You could always talk to him openly and honestly."

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