Former minister Asaf Zamir takes up new role as consul general in New York

Diplomat vows to work with ‘diverse populations’ in the US in service of the country

Jacob Magid is The Times of Israel's US bureau chief

Israeli Consul General to New York Asaf Zamir speaks at a New York City event with the Jewish Federations of North America on September 27, 2021. (Shahar Azran)
Israeli Consul General to New York Asaf Zamir speaks at a New York City event with the Jewish Federations of North America on September 27, 2021. (Shahar Azran)

Former tourism minister Asaf Zamir officially began his tenure as Israel’s consul general in New York on Wednesday.

“I come with great expectations to work together and to face some of the huge challenges the State of Israel has encountered in the past,” Zamir said in a statement.

“I expect to do it with everyone and serve everyone. It is a great honor to be in New York and experience life in the Big Apple, all while serving the State of Israel.”

Zamir, 41, enters the diplomatic arena after more than a decade in politics. For most of that period, he served as deputy mayor of Tel Aviv. In 2019, he entered national politics, joining Benny Gantz’s Blue and White party and going on to serve briefly as tourism minister.

He resigned from the government in October 2020 in protest of conduct by then prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu. That government fell shortly thereafter, and was replaced by the current unity coalition led by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid.

Lapid appointed Zamir to serve as the next consul general, filling a post that had been held by acting consul Israel Nitzan for more than a year. Prior to Nitzan, the post was held by former settler leader Dani Dayan, who was recently appointed as the chairman of the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum in Israel.

Zamir spent several years living in Florida as a child and speaks fluent English. He is married to popular actress Maya Wertheimer, who is slated to soon join Zamir in New York along with their daughter Asia. He previously held American citizenship, which he gave up when entering national politics, as is required of all Knesset members.

Blue and White leader Benny Gantz (right) with then-MK Asaf Zamir at a party conference in Ramat Gan on March 27, 2019. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

“There is no doubt that my goal is to keep Israel as a bipartisan matter and to work with both sides of the aisle,” Zamir said on Wednesday. “We will do that by not only working with local politicians, but by having meaningful conversations with the diverse populations in our region.”

The diplomat noted that he arrives in New York “from Tel Aviv-Yafo, one of the most diverse cities in Israel, and I was appointed to this position by the most diverse government in Israeli history. It’s only natural for me to work with diverse communities.”

Upon appointing Zamir in June, Lapid said the former minister “has the professional and interpersonal capabilities to represent the State of Israel with honor and pride.”

Last month, Zamir took part in meetings — alongside Bennett and Israeli Ambassador to the US and UN Gilad Erdan — with members of the New York Jewish community.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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