LONDON (JTA) — The British government has for the first time appointed a Jewish diplomat to be its ambassador to Israel.
The appointment of Matthew Gould was announced last week. Gould is set to take up his post during the second half of 2010.
Gould, 38, is considered one of the Foreign Office’s high-flying diplomats, currently serving as the Principal Private Secretary to Foreign Secretary David Miliband. He has already started taking Hebrew language lessons as part of his preparation for the new job, though he has some advantage on that front since he is familiar with the language.
During his 16 years at the Foreign Office, Gould had two postings to Muslim countries, the most recent as deputy head of mission in Tehran. He told The Jewish Chronicle that during his time there he “made a point of going to shul in Tehran. It was both a means of expressing support to Jews there and putting down a marker to the Iranian government that there was a watching brief on how it treated its minorities."
Israel is not foreign to Gould, who visited the country many times in the past. He also has some relatives in Israel.