Druze professor appointed ambassador to Norway; Christian-Arab diplomat will serve as his deputy
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman may be trying to shake off Israel’s racist image in Norway by a recent round of diplomatic nominations. Druze professor Naim Araidiwill be appointed ambassador to Norway and Christian-Arab George Deek is to be his deputy, Yedioth Ahronoth reported Wednesday.
Israel suffers from a particularly bad reputation in the Scandinavian country. A recent poll initiated by Israel’s Foreign Ministry reveals alarming details: Most Norwegians consider Israelis as racist, aggressive, extreme in their views and anti-peace.
Lieberman may be trying to remedy this situation by his appointment of the embassy staff. Druze Hebrew Literature Professor Naim Araidi, 62, will be Israel’s next ambassador to Norway.
Born in Kfar Maghar, Araidi wrote his doctorate on the poetry of Uri Zvi Grinberg. He gives regular classes at the Haifa and Bar-Ilan universities, serves as the dean at the Arab Academic College for Education and is a member of the Sapir Prize board. In 2008, he won the Prime Minister’s Award for Hebrew Literature.
Araidi was originally meant to serve as ambassador in New Zealand, but was eventually assigned to Norway.
“It would be a great privilege for me to represent Israel and show its beautiful side, as well as the coexistence that despite all the hardships can only be maintained in a true democracy,” he said.
Appointed as the ambassador’s deputy, Jaffa-born Deek is currently ending a successful stint as deputy ambassador in Nigeria. Revital Ben-Naim is Israel’s consul in Norway.
By Itamar Eichner