'An inspiring example of a successful ambassador'

Veteran diplomat Gideon Meir dies at 74

Former envoy to Italy and senior Foreign Ministry official took part in peace negotiations with Egypt, led public diplomacy effort

Lazar Berman is The Times of Israel's diplomatic reporter

Ambassador Gideon Meir  (photo credit: Foreign Ministry)
Ambassador Gideon Meir (photo credit: Foreign Ministry)

Senior Israeli diplomat Gideon Meir died on Monday at the age of 74 after a bout with cancer.

Meir, born in Jerusalem in 1947, served as Israel’s envoy to Italy from 2006 to 2011, and most recently as head of the Foreign Ministry’s Public Diplomacy Division. He also took part in peace negotiations with Egypt.

Meir is survived by his wife Amira, three children, and grandchildren.

“Gideon was responsible for training dozens of diplomats as head of the training bureau and as head of the Public Diplomacy Division in the ministry,” said Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi. “My deepest sympathies to his wife Amira and his children. May his soul be bound in the bonds of life.”

Ambassador Gideon Meir (second left) looks on as Prime Minister Menachem Begin greets Walter Mondale (photo credit: Foreign Ministry)

“We are devastated and heartbroken by the terrible loss of our husband, father, father-in-law, grandfather, brother, brother-in-law and uncle, Gideon Meir, may his memory be a blessing, after bravely battling cancer for two years,” said his daughter Noa in a statement.

“He passed away at home, in his bed, surrounded by his loved ones, and thankfully did not suffer or endure any pain. He leaves behind an incredible legacy, and will forever be a part of us.”

Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, founder and president of The Israel Project, remembered Meir’s efforts during the 2005 Disengagement from the Gaza Strip. “I have great memories of being on the edge of Gaza in the press area each night when the reporters at a make-shift bar would gather around Gideon Meir and ask him questions for their stories. He would sit with the reporters while they asked question after question. We called it “Has-BEER-a” instead of hasbara.”

“He was a brilliant diplomat and professional who loved people and saved many lives through his work,” Laszlo Mizrahi added. “He also loved his family very much.”

Jeremy Issacharoff, Israel’s ambassador to Germany, called Meir “an inspiring example of what a successful and effective ambassador should aspire to be.”

The funeral will be broadcast Tuesday afternoon, at 1:30 p.m. Israel time (6:30 am EST) at this link.

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