Israel posts Arab envoy to Wellington

By Dan Goldberg, April 26, 2012

An Arab Druze professor has been appointed Israel's chief diplomat in New Zealand.

Hebrew Literature Professor Naim Araidi was appointed by Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, Yediot Aharonot reported on Sunday.

"After years of representing Israel unofficially, it would be a great privilege for me to do so in an official capacity and show Israel's beautiful side, as well as the co-existence that, despite all the hardships, can only be maintained in a true democracy," the newspaper reported Mr Araidi as saying.

Born in Kfar Marrar in the Galilee, the 62-year-old teaches at Haifa University and Bar-Ilan University and won the Prime Minister's Award for Hebrew Literature in 2008. He received his PhD in Hebrew literature from Bar-Ilan. His poems have been published in more than a dozen languages.

Mr Lieberman said Mr Araidi's appointment "represents the beautiful face of Israel, in which a talented person, irrespective of religion or sector - can reach the highest places on merit, and be an inspiration for all Israelis.

"I am convinced that he will honour the state of Israel as an ambassador as he did as a writer."

Last updated: 2:38pm, April 26 2012