Jerusalem, Israel - Dec. 5, 2021 - Sunday afternoon, as it began to lightly rain, the red carpet had to be rolled up after Israeli President Isaac Herzog received the credentials of the new Ambassador of the United States, Thomas R. Nides, at an official ceremony at Beit Hanasi in Jerusalem, Israel.
President Herzog and Ambassador Nides delivered statements to the press, held a working meeting, and wore black yarmulkes to light the candles for the eighth night on the Chanukah menorah in the main diplomatic hall. The President surprised Ambassador Nides by inviting to the ceremony the principal from his old Hebrew school in Duluth, Minnesota, Elizabeth Aloni who mentioned that former US Ambassador Dan Shapiro was also from Duluth.
Nides opened his remarks by the retelling of his early visit to Israel as a 15-year old climbing Masada. In the official guest book, he wrote "To the People of this great nation - We live to work in peace. The defense of this beautiful country is our most important priority."
President Isaac Herzog’s remarks:
"It is a true privilege and honor for me, as President of the State of Israel, to open my home to you, the newly appointed Ambassador of the United States of America, Ambassador Tom Nides.
The People of Israel welcome you with open arms and an open heart. For us, this is a celebration of a shared vision and common values: liberty and equality, freedom, human rights, and friendship with our closest ally.
Personally, my family has been engaged and involved with over fourteen successive American presidents. Growing up in the United States, I was strongly influenced by the spirit of the Constitution, by its social diversity, and by the great tradition of your democracy.
This is why it is a special pleasure for me to host you, Mr. Ambassador, here in the President’s Residence, to receive your credentials and light the eighth and final Chanukah candle with you.
I have a small surprise for you: in your youth, you attended Hebrew and Sunday School in the small Jewish community of Duluth, Minnesota. I have invited the principal of the school, my good friend Elizabeth Eli Aloni, who is sitting right here, to join us today and she remembers you as a young adolescent. You might not remember her, but she remembers you. Tom—this must be where your great Hebrew comes from!
Mr. Ambassador, I must add how touched we were by President Biden’s warm remarks at the Chanukah candle-lighting ceremony on Thursday at the White House, as he graciously welcomed Israel’s new Ambassador to the United States, my dear brother, Mike Herzog.
Far beyond the personal connection, this is heartwarming because it is a consistent display of President Biden’s longstanding, genuine friendship with Israel. I take this opportunity to express my deep gratitude to President Biden, for his tireless support and his uncompromising commitment to the ironclad relations between Israel and the United States.
An alliance that should always be above partisan politics, enjoying the support of all administrations.
You should know, Mr. Ambassador, that for the people of Israel, this is meaningful beyond measure. I know how deeply you, Ambassador Nides, care about the US-Israel connection and intend to develop and deepen it throughout your term.
Israel very much looks forward to working together in harmony and in full partnership. You are coming to a more hopeful region. The Abraham Accords are a real strategic and regional gamechanger. It is essential that we realize the potential of these historic accords alongside the United States of America.
I was pleased to discuss this with the Crown Prince of the United Arab Emirates, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, in our warm and friendly phone conversation over the weekend.
Mr. Ambassador, without a doubt the greatest challenge Israel and the United States face is the common threat posed by Iran.
We are closely following the international community’s recent negotiations with Iran. Israel will welcome a comprehensive, diplomatic solution that permanently solves the Iranian nuclear threat.
In the case of a failure to achieve such a solution, Israel is keeping all options on the table and it must be said that if the international community does not take a vigorous stance on this issue—Israel will do so. Israel will protect itself.
Ambassador Nides, I thank you so much for joining us today with your son, Max, and I wish you a satisfying, enjoyable, and successful stay in Israel together with your excellent team.
I look forward to visiting the United States in the near future and meeting with my good friends President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, and the entire administration, in order to further our common goals and strengthen the historic links between our two great democracies and peoples.
Thank you, good luck, and chag sameach!"