Aggregator • Mideast Youth • ID=78928
Ben Lynfield in Jerusalem ' Israel’s foreign ministry has appointed a Druse Arab poet as ambassador to Oslo and named an Arab career diplomat as his deputy as part of an uphill battle to win over public opinion largely critical of Israel in Norway.
Naim Araidi, 72, a former Haifa and Bar Ilan University lecturer who writes verse in both Arabic and Hebrew, confirmed the appointment in an interview with Israel Radio’s Arabic service on Wednesday.Mr. Araidi will be accompanied by George Deek, a Christian Arab from Jaffa who is currently deputy ambassador to Nigeria. He noted that the number three at the Oslo embassy, Revital Ben-Naim is a Jew. ”It will help us greatly that the Israeli embassy is composed of all communities and religions as a reflection of real coexistence between Arabs and Jews in Israel,” Mr. Araidi said. He added that the diverse team comprises ”a beautiful picture, putting forward the civilized, democratic face of Israel.”
”I personally go there with a cultural and literary mission and this realm will have a big role in strengthening relations between Israel and Norway,” said Araida, who had originally been slated to become ambassador to New Zealand.
Foreign ministry deputy spokesman Paul Hirschson said he did not know what considerations caused the shift in posting. Mr. Hirschson played down the significance of two Arabs being sent to Oslo when there is an overall shortage of Arab representation in the ministry. ”This is nothing special. A citizen is a citizen.” But he added: ”We have issues in the public sphere in Norway and hopefully this will have a positive spin-off effect.”
Roger Hercz, Middle East correspondent of the Norwegian daily Dagsavisen said of the appointments:”Israel is facing a lot of criticism in Norway. The continued occupation is seen as a gross violation of human rights and Israel is seen as the aggressor in most circumstances. The foreign ministry may have concluded that an Arab ambassador saying Israel is not so bad could be more convincing than a Jewish one.”