“The People of Israel welcome you with open arms and an open heart,” said Israeli President Isaac Herzog upon receiving the new Ambassador of the United States of America, H.E. Mr. Thomas Richard Nides.
By Erin Viner
“For us, this is a celebration of a shared vision and common values: liberty and equality, freedom, human rights and friendship with our closest ally,” the Israeli leader added, during an official ceremony at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem.
“It is a true privilege and honor for me, as President of the State of Israel, to open my home to you, the newly appointed Ambassador of the United States of America,” said Herzog.
Among those invited by President Herzog to attend the ceremony was surprise guest Elizabeth Aloni, who was the principal of Ambassador Nides’ childhood Hebrew school in Duluth, Minnesota.
“You might not remember her, but she remembers you. Tom—this must be where your great Hebrew comes from!” said President Herzog to Washington’s new envoy.
He added that during his own youth growing up in the US, “I was strongly influenced by the spirit of the Constitution, by its social diversity and by the great tradition of your democracy.”
After saying that the Herzog family “has been engaged and involved with over 1 successive American presidents,” the Israeli leader told Ambassador Nides “how touched we were” by President Joe Biden’s warm remarks at the Hanukah candle lighting ceremony at the White House, as he graciously welcomed Israel’s new Ambassador to the US, who is Herzog’s brother Mike.
“Far beyond the personal connection, this is heart-warming because it is a consistent display of President Biden’s longstanding, genuine friendship with Israel. I take this opportunity to express my deep gratitude to President Biden, for his tireless support and his uncompromising commitment to the ironclad relations between Israel and the United States,” underscored President Herzog, adding that, “An alliance which should always be above partisan politics, enjoying the support of all administrations.”
President Herzog also noted Ambassador Nides’ high appreciation “about the US-Israel connection, and intent to develop and deepen it throughout your term,” and how Jerusalem “very much looks forward to working together in harmony and in full partnership.”
While welcoming Nides to “a more hopeful region” highlighted by the historic, ‘real strategic and regional game-changing’ Abraham Accords peace process, President Herzog also acknowledged that “without a doubt the greatest challenge Israel and the Unites States face is the common threat posed by Iran.”
Even though the Jewish State would “welcome a comprehensive, diplomatic solution which permanently solves the Iranian nuclear threat,” said Herzog, “In the case of a failure to achieve such solution, Israel is keeping all options on the table and it must be said that if the international community does not take a vigorous stance on this issue—Israel will do so. Israel will protect itself.”
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett also gave a warm reception to the new US Ambassador.
“We’re going to do a lot of great things together. Welcome back to Israel and best of luck, my friend,” he said, according to a statement TV7 obtained from the Prime Minister’s Media Advisor.
Calling the US his nation’s “biggest friend in the world,” the Israeli Premier added, “It has been said so many times that we share common values, but it’s not a cliché…. it’s simply a profound truth, the most fundamental values—values of freedom.”
“The Jewish people who were a symbol of freedom in America, who brought democracy and freedom to the world—values of good faith, of cooperation. Values of doing good, simply waking up in the morning and trying to do good, even while we’re sometimes imperfect,” he said.
Commenting that his term has now reached the six-month milestone, Prime Minister Bennett stressed that his government was formed of “good will and good spirit… not only domestically.. but also between us and the United States of America.”