Diplomatic secrets from ambassador Gideon Meir
“Part of our relationship with Europe and the United States is also the existence of good interpersonal relationships,” declared diplomat Gideon Levy, former Israeli Foreign Ministry executive and the Israeli Ambassador to Italy (2006-2012). Levy’s remarks were delivered in a lecture to those attending the General Meeting of the members of the Jabotinsky Institute in Israel Amuta which took place on December 25, 2014.
From his vast diplomatic experience, Ambassador Meir shared insight into the complex relationship between European nations and Israel. He also shared several personal details about himself: Meir was born in Jerusalem to a family of intellectuals who owned and operated the venerable “Ludwig Mayer Jerusalem Bookstore,” founded in 1908.
The ambassador spoke of his paternal ancestors who arrived to Eretz Yisrael from Fulda, Germany at the dawn of the twentieth century and pioneered the groundwork for the distribution of books in Hebrew and other languages. Meir also revealed his roots within the Herut Movement via the family of his wife, Professor Amira nee Hacohen. Veteran members of the Jabotinsky Amuta lovingly recalled her late father David Hacohen who had served on the Herut Movement Central Committee, as chairman of the Jerusalem branch, and even had been a candidate for the Seventh Knesset on the “Gachal” (Herut Bloc — Liberals) ticket.
In recent time, following his retirement from the Foreign Ministry, Gideon Meir has developed a penchant for local politics. In the elections for the local authorities held in 2013, Meir was elected to the Mevaseret Tzion Local Council (together with Boaz Cohen and Yael Aran) and holds the City Preservation portfolio.
In his fascinating lecture, Meir Cohen divulged what in his day had been classified as a “diplomatic secret.” During the proceedings of the Adolf Eichmann trial, six books were delivered to Eichmann’s cell by the Ludwig Mayer Bookstore at the request of the Israel Prison Authority. The books sent for perusal by the heinous Eichmann were volumes of the history of the Jewish People and the State of Israel.
Gideon Meir is convinced that an ambassador can represent various governments in a democratic regime. “We diplomats identify with the state and the policy of the elected government, not with the party.” Meir compared the position of an ambassador to that of an attorney. During his post, a good ambassador is expected to single out the decision-makers of today and tomorrow and to attract and cultivate them.
Thus Gideon Meir had the privilege of cultivating two statesmen from Great Britain from the ranks of the Labour Party, familiarizing them with the State of Israel and the issues of the Arab-Israeli conflict and its influence upon the relationship between Israel and the European nations. In time, these two politicians were both to become heads of state: Anthony (Tony) Blair (1997-2007) and Gordon Brown (2007-2010).
According to Meir, the tainting of the diplomatic atmosphere between Western European nations and Israel emanates from the Moslem immigration to the continent and their bringing with them a new type of anti-Semitism. Instead of assimilating into Europe, these Moslems are changing the face of the continent. Regarding Israeli diplomacy, Meir noted that in the past, settlements were built without publicizing the subject. Yet in recent years, the building is discussed even before construction starts, an act which goads hostile reactions from Europe and the United States.
As for Europe, upon whose earth millions of Jews were slaughtered during World War II, there is an objective within their guilt feelings to transform the victim to the aggressor. This is in addition to the deep-rooted anti-Semitism which developed on this very continent. Too, the colonial past of many European states exacerbates their feelings of guilt. Thus these countries, particularly Britain, view us as occupiers and even express guilt about the Balfour Declaration. Anti-Semitism exists among policymakers in European countries, who exhibit an intention to turn IDF soldiers into Nazis.
According to Ambassador Gideon Meir, there has never been United States defensive security aid to Israel to the extent of that provided by the administration of President Barak Obama. Meir defined former President Jimmy Carter “anti-Semitic.” Carter, to say the least, did not like Menachem Begin and even called him a “grocer.” However, the United States supports Israel because this is in the interest of America.