Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has decided to appoint the director general of the World Jewish Congress in Israel, Sam Grundwerg, as consul general in Los Angeles.
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Grundwerg is one of the closest friends of Ambassador to Washington Ron Dermer, who is Netanyahu's confidant. In an unusual step and for no known reason, the Prime Minister's Office announced the appointment on Thursday night in English and only to the foreign press.
Grundwerg, 43, was born in Miami Beach. He made aliyah in his early 20s after completing law and business management studies at Miami University. He then worked at law firms and private companies in the finance sector. He has been serving as the director general of the Israeli branch of the World Jewish Congress since 2010. Grundwerg is religious and resides in the settlement of Efrat in the West Bank.
One of Grundwerg's best friends is Dermer, who is considered one of Netanyahu's closest advisers. The two know each other since their Miami Beach childhood and from their time as students. A Foreign Ministry source estimated that Dermer is the one who suggested to Netanyahu to appoint Grundwerg. If so, it would be the third senior appointment in the past year that Dermer is responsible for, following the assignment of his friend Eli Groner as the director general of the Prime Minister's Office and his recommendation to appoint David Keyes as the prime minister's foreign media spokesman.
One of the assessments at the Foreign Ministry is that Grundwerg was slated to become the consul general in New York, but was diverted to the position of consul general in Los Angeles following the crisis surrounding Dani Dayan's appointment as ambassador to Brazil. After Brazil refused to receive Dayan as an Ambassador, Netanyahu offered him to become consul general in Los Angeles, but he refused and requested the New York posting. Netanyahu accepted his request, and Dayan's appointment was announced last week.
The chairman of the Israeli branch of the World Jewish Congress, former MK Shai Hermesh, who Grundwerg worked under for the past few years, said that the latter isn’t associated with any political party, which shows that the fact that his appointment was a political one demonstrates that he has the desired skills and that this isn’t the appointment of a party activist. "He's a great man and he'll do a good job," Hermesh said.