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Israeli representatives reflect on queen’s character, relationship with British Jewry

The Israeli president praised Queen Elizabeth II as ‘a woman of valor’

Israeli President Isaac Herzog signs a condolence book for Queen Elizabeth II in London, Sept. 18, 2022 (Photo: Rory Arnold/10 Downing Street)

Queen Elizabeth II was a great friend of Britain’s Jewish population, according to Israeli Ambassador to the United Kingdom Tzipi Hotovely, who praised the late queen for her relationship with Holocaust survivors.

The British monarch, who was laid to rest on Monday, reigned in Great Britain for 70 years, a period that incorporated the tenures of 14 American presidents and 15 British prime ministers, including the legendary Winston Churchill. 

“She was very sensitive and respectful to Holocaust survivors, and always listened to them beyond [the] protocol time [allotted] and shared moments with them,” Hotovely said.

The top Israeli envoy to London also praised the queen for her efforts as Great Britain’s leading diplomat.

“For 70 years, she was the [country’s] top diplomat,” said Hotovely. “I don’t think that anyone can get close to that kind of a record.” 

Hotovely reflected on a 20-minute one-on-one meeting with the queen, in which she presented the monarch her ambassadorial credentials. 

“It was an unforgettable moment,” Hotovely said.

The late queen’s relationship with Israel and Jews was complex. 

Modern Israel was only 5 years old at the time of the young Queen Elizabeth’s coronation in 1953. While the queen visited around 100 countries during her long reign, including several Middle Eastern states, she never visited Israel. 

However, the Israeli ambassador said she believes that the queen’s decision to not visit Israel was linked to the British Foreign Office, which has had a mixed relationship with Israel ever since the dissolution of the former British Palestine Mandate in 1948. 

“Many people have the impression that royals travel to places they just want to, without having a Foreign Office agenda behind it. It is very clear that for many years the Foreign Office, which created those foreign trips, made a decision that the Queen would not visit Israel,” Hotovely said. 

The queen became an admired symbol of stability and tolerance for the majority of British Jewry. 

Marie van der Zyl, the president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, praised the queen’s “long history of involvement with the Jewish community.”

“Throughout her remarkable reign, the queen has encouraged harmony and friendship across the many different communities and denominations of this country,” van der Zyl said.

Israeli President Isaac Herzog, who represented Israel at the queen’s state funeral in London this week, praised the late British monarch as a “woman of valour.” 

“On behalf of the State of Israel, its citizens and the Jewish People, I paid respects to HM Queen Elizabeth II at her Lying-in-State,” wrote Herzog on social media. 

“The Queen was a true ‘woman of valour,’ as we say in the Jewish tradition, a beacon of stability and a historic figure. We grieve with Britain,” the Israeli president said. 

“She was truly a leader that transcends time, intergenerational, she saw where the world was 70 years ago and how it is today. Her reign was truly majestic and she truly personified the word ‘majesty.’ In fact, she showed stability, strength, and wisdom which was radiated throughout the world,” Herzog said. 

Herzog’s own family history is linked closely with Great Britain and the Jewish community. Chaim Herzog, the current Israeli president’s late father, was born in Northern Ireland and served as an officer in the British military during the Second World War. 

During a recent state visit to Germany, President Herzog visited the former concentration camp Bergen-Belsen, which his father helped liberate in 1945. The senior Herzog later became a general in the Israeli army, and also served as president of Israel during 1983–1993. 

In addition, Yitzhak HaLevi Herzog, the late grandfather of the current Israeli president, served as the first chief rabbi of Ireland and later became the chief rabbi of the British Mandate for Palestine and, later, Israel. 

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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