Why, Mr Ambassador, you're spoiling me…

By Marcus Dysch, March 1, 2012
Nurit Modai

Nurit Modai

Many married couples agree not to discuss work issues at home but, for one Israeli family, the subject has become unavoidable.

Boaz Modai, Israel's ambassador to Ireland, warmly welcomed a familiar face as his new deputy at the Dublin embassy last week - his wife, Nurit Tinari-Modai.

It is thought to be the first time an Israeli husband and wife have worked together as ambassador and deputy.

When Mr Modai was made ambassador in August 2010, his wife and sons, Yoav, 12, and Nadav, 10, moved with him to Dublin.

But Ms Tinari-Modai soon grew restless. A career diplomat with 20 years' experience, she had previously served worked in Rome as cultural attaché, and last year rejected the chance to take up a post in New York in order to stay by her husband's side.

Boaz Modai

Boaz Modai

Her loyalty has now been rewarded. The 44-year-old said: "New York was my dream. The boys could have come with me, but I would have had to leave my husband in Ireland, so I said no.

"I was not doing anything in Ireland and I became 'just the wife'. It was nice but I am an independent person and wanted to do something more."

Ms Tinari-Modai had already assisted in the embassy, helping to organise an Israeli film festival in Dublin.

The deputy ambassador post had been vacant since last summer, and with a shortage of trained diplomats, the Foreign Ministry decided on the novel solution.

A Foreign Ministry source said Ms Tinari-Modai was an "excellent, professional diplomat" who could have secured a full ambassadorship on her own merits. Her role will be reviewed annually by the ministry.

The couple do not believe the mixing of business and pleasure will lead to domestic tensions. Ms Tinari-Modai said: "Ireland is a huge challenge, maybe the biggest in Europe. We are almost alone here in standing up for Israel.

"We do not separate work and home life. All couples talk work and politics. We know where to draw the line. Being a diplomat, you have to dedicate your life to working for your country.

"If I make a mistake, I think he would tell me and we would talk about it."

It is thought the arrangement could save the Foreign Ministry around £83,000 a year as the usual finances needed to support a deputy ambassador - for travel, housing and family support - will not be required.

Last updated: 3:25pm, March 1 2012