Israeli Press Raps Appointed Envoy Arad, but Colleagues Admire Him

Moshe Arad, the career foreign service officer nominated to be Israel’s next Ambassador to the United States, has been the subject of less-than-charitable commentary by the media which his colleagues say is unfair. A cartoonist in one major daily depicted him as the pilot of a tiny single-engine plane labelled “Mexico” about to take the controls of a jumbo jet labeled “U.S.” Arad has just completed a tour of duty as Israel’s Ambassador in Mexico City. The cartoon implied he is not ready to take over Israel’s most important diplomatic post abroad.

A Jerusalem Post editorial said that with U.S.-Israel relations at an especially “delicate” juncture, “nothing less than the highest qualities… would seem to be required” of an Ambassador to Washington post . . . calls for something more.”

The media reactions appear to have been influenced by the fact that Arad’s nomination was a compromise reached by Premier Yitzhak Shamir and Foreign Minister Shimon Peres after months of public wrangling over a successor to Meir Rosenne. Rosenne’s four-year tour of duty ended on May 31. He declined to stay on, and Shamir and Peres were forced to agree quickly on a replacement. Foreign service insiders and observers consider the media barbs unjustified. They say Arad’s selection, however arrived at, was not a bad choice and could turn out to be a remarkably good one. Arad’s friends and colleagues hold him in high regard for his intellectual attributes and poise.

CALLED A PROFESSIONAL

Shamir and Peres apparently were impressed by his professionalism. Although he is believed to be closer in his views to Labor than Likud, he is not politically active. Shamir agreed to nominate Arad after he vetoed a succession of other nonpolitical candidates proposed by Peres.

Aides said Shamir, who has twice held the offices of Premier and Foreign Minister, values professionalism above all. As Ambassador to Mexico and in his earlier positions in the foreign service, Arad always reported back succinctly and exhaustively. His performance of his duties is said to have influenced Shamir most.

Arad’s formal designation as Ambassador to the U.S. awaits official American concurrence. He has already been approved by the Cabinet. Perhaps the greatest asset he will take to his new job is that in the context of Israel’s currently fragmented political spectrum he succeeded in obtaining the backing of both Shamir and Peres.

NEXT STORY