Ambassador (Ret.) Zalman Shoval (1991) (Image Credit: Saar Yaacov/Government Press Office of Israel)
On the backdrop of a changing American posture in the Middle East, Israel Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) Executive Director Dr. Martin Sherman sat down in May with a distinguished diplomat, former Israeli Ambassador Zalman Shoval.
Shoval, who played an active role in Israel’s international diplomacy, banking institutions, and Knesset for many years, spoke about the issues facing Israel’s public diplomacy efforts and the sea change currently being experienced in U.S.-Israel relations.
Addressing concerns that Trump might not follow through with his strong stance on Iran, Shoval noted that U.S. isolationism would be a grave mistake, and indeed the president has continued to seriously strengthen his steps against the Islamic regime since the interview took place.
Sherman raised the issue of public diplomacy and noted that Israel is investing paltry sums into this vital field, to which Shoval assented that Israel has been “remiss” in drumming up international public support, although not due to a lack of trying.
The veteran diplomat revealed that “there were periods when we tried, and it’s strange to say but sometimes we faced opposition from American Jewish institutions who wanted to have an exclusive monopoly on public diplomacy for Israel.” While he noted his appreciation for their efforts and willingness to help, he added that they were not always “professional enough,” and agreed that Israel should devote more of its budget to managing its own diplomacy.