September 18, 2019

Former Israeli envoy to L.A. named acting head of Foreign Ministry

Yuval Rotem, who was named acting director general of the Israel Foreign Ministry by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday (10/13), is remembered in Los Angeles as “one of the most popular and effective envoys to have represented his country in Los Angeles, the Southwestern states and Hawaii.”

The accolade is from a 2004 Journal interview in his Los Angeles office with the departing consul general, after completing a five-year tour of duty here.

An indication of Rotem’s popularity was a petition by many Jewish organizations and individuals, asking the Israeli government to extend Rotem’s stay for at least another year, but the plea was turned down by the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem.

Rotem replaces Dore Gold in the highly influential post, after the American-born diplomat resigned. Israeli news sources speculated that Gold was unhappy about being excluded from Netanyahu’s inner circle of advisers.

Rotem, 57, entered Israel’s diplomatic service 30 years ago and after leaving Los Angeles has been his country’s ambassador to Australia and, most recently, head of the Foreign Ministry’s public diplomacy directorate.

In the 2004 farewell interview with the Journal, Rotem was asked what he liked most about Los Angeles and responded: “The monthly shopping trips to Costco, games at the Staples Center and family weekend trips to Santa Monica.”

By contrast, he cited as his worst day July 4, 2002, when an Egyptian citizen fired on people queuing up at the El Al ticket counter at Los Angeles International Airport, killing two Israelis.

At the end of the interview, Rotem summarized his view of Los Angeles. “When you see L.A., you see the whole world,” he said, “And if you don’t like LA, you just don’t like the world. I am really going to miss it.”