British Jewish groups working in Israel have welcomed the appointment of left-wing Israeli politician Isaac Herzog to become the new chairman of the Jewish Agency is “a wonderful choice”.
Herzog, who was Israel’s Opposition Leader until recently, was appointed by the Agency’s committee despite Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urging it to consider Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz for the role.
Michael Wegier, the chief executive of UJIA, which support British Jews’ connection to Israel, said he was delighted with the move, calling the Jewish agency “a key UJIA partner”.
Of the appointment, he said: “Isaac Herzog is a wonderful choice to be chairman of the Jewish Agency. He has many ties to British Jewry through his family heritage and is a frequent visitor here.”
Wegier added that Herzog’s public service “demonstrated his commitment to building a strong and just Jewish and democratic State of Israel. We look forward to the imminent ratification of his nomination and to many years of close collaboration.”
Herzog, who was appointed for a four-year term, replaces Natan Sharansky, who is known as “Israel’s most famous immigrant” and who earlier this year won the Israel Prize for promoting aliyah.
Both men recently appeared together at the Aliyah 100 event at the British Embassy in Tel Aviv, for which Jewish News was media sponsor, Sharansky hailing the “unbelievable quality” of British Jews who had moved to Israel.
Herzog, whose late father Chaim served as Israeli president, had an uncle and former business partner feature in the Aliyah 100 list, and told the audience he remembered visiting the UK ambassador’s residence aged eight when his father was knighted.
He said this brought home the “special connection” between the two nations, adding: “Aliyah is something you carry with you throughout your life and your children’s lives. We can’t escape our British roots and are proud of them, although sometimes we can be critical of the ancient motherland.”