In more than half a century of diplomatic protocol in Israel, only the weather has disrupted one particular ceremony.
But on Wednesday, when Romania’s new ambassador to Israel, Radu Ioanid, presented his credentials to Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, there was a major overhaul in response to the Covid-19 crisis, the Jerusalem Post reported.
Ioanid is Romania’s first ambassador to Israel in three years and he was one of five new ambassadors who presented their credentials Wednesday in a Covid-19 slimmed down ceremony.
Ioanid takes up his post after decades of service to the fight against antisemitism and raising awareness about Holocaust memory.
The president noted the leading role the ambassador played in the establishment of the Holocaust Museum in Washington DC. He also spoke about Romania’s leading role in the adoption of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of antisemitism.
“We appreciate it very much, as we do Romania’s support for Israel in international fora,” Rivlin said.
After thanking the president, the ambassador said that Romania is proud to be at the forefront of the fight against antisemitism, Israel National News reported.
Ioanid also spoke of the intention to establish a museum dedicated to the history of the Jews of Romania, including the Holocaust.
A historian, Ioanid has served in a number of senior roles, including at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington. More recently, he was an adviser to President Klaus Iohannis.
Between 280,000-380,000 Jews were killed on Romanian-held territory during World War II. Romania’s Jewish population plummeted from 800,000 before the war, to fewer than 10,000 today.
During a visit to Israel in January prior to the pandemic, he had invited Rivlin to visit Romania. The Israeli president has agreed to the trip, which had to be postponed after Israel went into lockdown.
Rivlin assured assured Ioanid that as soon as he is able to travel, Romania will be his No. 1 destination, the Post reported.
He found it interesting that just as Ioanid went from being a presidential adviser to becoming an ambassador to Israel, one of his own former advisers, David Saranga, is currently Israel’s ambassador to Romania.
Ioanid said that when offered an ambassadorship, the only country to which he agreed to go was Israel.
Normally, there is a military honor guard comprising 40 soldiers from different units. This time there were eight. There was also a significant reduction in the police band.
Inside the hall, lounge chairs were placed in adherence to the social distancing requirements, with two rows on either side, separated by far more than 2 meters of floor space.
Rivlin also received diplomatic credentials from the new ambassadors of Colombia, Greece, Denmark, and Argentina to the State of Israel.