Fleur Hassan-Nahoum, 48, who currently serves as Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem in charge of foreign relations, international economic development, and tourism, and is the co-founder and founding member of the UAE – Israel Business Council, wants to replace Isaac Herzog as Chair of the Jewish Agency for Israel. Herzog, who vacated his post to become Israel’s 11th president, was replaced by Acting Chairman Yaakov Hagoel.
Hagoel is the Chairman of the Executive of the World Zionist Organization.
Fleur Hassan-Nahoum was born in London and grew up in Gibraltar, the daughter of Sir Joshua Abraham Hassan, the Chief Minister and Mayor of Gibraltar. Her mother is Marcelle Bensimon (both are Moroccan Jews).
In 1991, at the age of 18, Hassan-Nahoum studied law at King’s College London, where she served as president of the King’s College Jewish Society. After qualifying as a barrister in 1997, she practiced law in London and became campaign director of World Jewish Relief. She made aliyah in 2001, she is married with four children.
Her younger sister, Marlene Hassan Nahoum, is a member of Gibraltar’s Parliament and the leader of the Together Gibraltar Party. She was elected as a Social Democrat and quit the party after Justice Minister Gilbert Licudi had showered her with anti-Semitic slurs, believing his mic was off. It was off, but Gibraltar is such a small place, everybody heard him anyway.
Fleur Hassan-Nahoum was criticized in 2019 for attending an event of the far-left Israeli group Emek Shaveh, which was sponsored by the New Israel Fund and the European Union. Families of victims of terrorism accused her of giving legitimacy to a group that encourages terrorism. She has moved well to the right after that incident, and in 2021, speaking on the planned evictions of squatter Arab families from Sheikh she defended the Israeli government’s policy, which followed a High Court decision. “This is a Jewish country. There’s only one. And of course, there are laws that some people may consider as favoring Jews — it’s a Jewish state. It is here to protect the Jewish people,” she said.
Call it on-the-job training.
The European Jewish Press on Wednesday published an interview with Fleur Hassan-Nahoum (Jewish Agency for Israel candidate, Fleur Hassan-Nahoum is leveraging diverse background and seeks to bring unity, cohesion to agency), in which they asked what makes her “the best fit for the job.” She answered:
First, I was a Diaspora Jew until 20 years ago, so I understand the mentality of the Diaspora and have complete empathy for and a unique understanding of their challenges.
Second, I’m an immigrant, and the Jewish Agency is still the organization bringing immigrants to the State of Israel, an ongoing enterprise and even our raison d’être. Jerusalem absorbs the largest number of immigrants on a yearly basis, many of whom I end up helping in one way or another. I understand new immigrants, their challenges, and what could help them make their aliyah more successful. When working with Diaspora and aliyah, it also helps that I speak several languages—a package that can take the agency to the next level in its development.
Last, as well as being a fundraiser for 12 years and a lawyer before then, I became a consultant to organizations wanting to be more successful in fundraising and engagement. This is exactly the skill set that the Jewish Agency is looking for—someone who can attract a new audience, who can bring in young engagement and help them do the work they do.
Then, asked to explain the gap between Israel and Diaspora Jewry, Fleur Hassan-Nahoum did the inverse:
As a now-Israeli for 20 years, I understand the importance of the relationship between Israel and the Diaspora. I don’t buy into the whole “us vs. them” mentality; we are one people. Yes, we are one people living in different places, with different mentalities and challenges, but ultimately, we are one. And if we absorb this fact, then disagreements can be viewed as something between any normal family. We need to ensure that the Diaspora understands that we see them as one people with us and do our utmost to embrace all our communities, whether we agree with them or not.
Finally, the candidate sold herself, saying her skill set included “passion, energy, and creativity. I straddle many worlds that need to be brought together. I am a Sephardi, a Latin, an Anglo, a woman, a liberal, a feminist, and I speak a few languages.”