WASHINGTON – U.S. pro-Israel and Jewish organizations from across the political spectrum roundly welcomed news of Michael Herzog's appointment as Israel's next ambassador to the United States, citing his diplomatic and military experience as well as his personal aptitude.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett announced on Friday that he had chosen Herzog, the brother of Israel's President Isaac Herzog, to serve in the position. His appointment will soon be brought before the cabinet for approval.
J Street, a left-wing pro-Israel organization, congratulated Herzog, saying it looked forward "to working with him to help promote a strong, productive and responsible U.S.-Israel relationship, rooted in democratic values and the pursuit of peace and security."
Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt echoed this sentiment, saying that Herzog "brings real smarts and a strategic mind to the work." AIPAC wished him great success.
Mark Mellman, the president and CEO of the Democratic Majority for Israel, said Herzog's career as a military strategist and peace negotiator make him an outstanding choice: "Those of us privileged to know him recognize Mike as both a perceptive analyst and as an impressive advocate."
He added, "A frequent interlocutor with Palestinian leadership on behalf of his government, he is deeply respected by Middle East hands in Washington, and I am certain he will earn the respect of leaders in both parties. In selecting Mike Herzog, the new Israeli government makes clear once again that it places a high value on strengthening the U.S.-Israel alliance."
Hadar Susskind, the president and CEO of Americans for Peace Now, noted that Herzog has the "skills, the experience, the character and the temperament to successfully represent Israel in the United States, and to serve its new government’s objective of deescalating Israel’s hawkish posture in Washington." Susskind added that "Herzog could leverage his rich experience in Israeli-Palestinian diplomacy to advance peace for Israel and its neighbors in his new position."
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The Jewish Institute for National Security of America (JINSA) President and CEO Michael Makovsky, who has had a longstanding personal and professional relationship with Herzog, called the appointment "an inspired choice" based on Herzog's stature as a national security expert.
He also has "an incredible record as soldier, policymaker, peace negotiator and intellectual – an independent thinker respected across the Israeli political spectrum," Makovsky said. He added that Herzog is an "excellent person, unusually modest and self-effacing, and that modesty drives him to read and understand everything related to Israeli national security, including gaining an excellent knowledge of U.S. policy, policy-makers and thinkers."
The Jewish Democratic Council of America welcomed Herzog's appointment, saying "we are confident he will work with the Biden administration to strengthen the U.S.-Israel relationship and work toward achieving peace in the region."
Robert Satloff, the executive director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy Executive Director, the D.C.-based think tank for which Herzog was an international fellow, said Herzog represents a "terrific choice of a brilliant strategic thinker who understands America and its people and is deeply committed to the U.S.-Israel partnership."
Herzog, a retired brigadier general, served in various high-ranking positions in the Israeli army and in the general staff. He was the military secretary of Defense Ministers Shaul Mofaz and Ehud Barak. In recent years, he has also been a senior fellow at the Jewish People Policy Institute and a research fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
In the course of his extensive diplomatic record, Herzog was part of a team that conducted indirect negotiations with Syria over a decade ago. He was also part of secret negotiations meant to reach a final status settlement between Israel and the Palestinians in 2013, led by associate of former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Yitzhak Molcho, and Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas' associate, the Lebanese academic Hussein Agha.