Welcoming Diplomats During Landmark Visits to Israel

Updated: Jan 19

During the 2020 worldwide COVID pandemic, there were a few historic bright spots with regards to international foreign affairs between nations. Specifically, a handful of Arab nations are finally looking to accelerate normalization ties with the State of Israel. The recent peace treaty between Israel and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is hopefully the beginning of many more to follow. In the later part of Zalman’s remarkable career, which took place during the early years of modern Israeli history, we learn about landmark visits in Israel by unexpected foreign countries. At that time, my grandfather’s role was to provide security or protection services for public relations reasons.

For example, below are some historic moments and photos from:

  • Landmark visits by Burma officials, which was the first country in Asia to recognize the Jewish state.

  • Momentous meetings with Western Germany high ranking government diplomats.

  • Important meetings with key U.S. diplomats as it relates to Israel's “secret” nuclear project.

Lod Airport - Ben Gurion International

The first-place important foreign dignitaries and diplomats are greeted upon arrival is at the airport. Towards the end of his career, Zalman worked from the Lod Airport (now known as Ben Gurion International Airport) in Tel Aviv. His business card, which does not have any titles on it, has two phone numbers: one at the office and the other at his residence. This was very rare for an Israeli at the time. The office number was listed in a 1965 Government Office Phone Directory, and it reads: “Histadrut Tourist & Travel Co Ltd.” This was part of the Government General Organization of Workers in Israel or Israel's national trade union center. This office was supposedly in charge of security and professional escort services and courtesies for qualified foreign officials and dignitaries who traveled in and out of Israel.

The location of the ground terminal is where we find the amazing historical video of him greeting people such as Frank Sinatra on the main terminal on the ground at Lod Airport. Sinatra visited Israel more than once and on one of his visits he took part in a movie about the late Colonel Mickey Marcus, a United States senior military officer who helped Israel’s military before 1948 during the Arab-Israeli war. Kirk Douglas played the role of Marcus. Titled Cast a Giant Shadow, the movie was about an American Army officer recruited by the yet to exist Israel to help them form an army.

At that time, the departures check-in area was located on the ground floor, where many of the significant events for special arrivals would take place with the media. It’s not unusual for the Mossad, Israel’s secret service, to create companies that are basically an Israeli government agency. Some of his activities of which my father said still cannot be revealed. This office assigned him to be responsible for and in charge of working with very important people (VIPs) visiting the State of Israel, among other no clearly defined assignments. He basically had unlimited clearance and access to sensitive information.


Zalman On’s Business Card from Airport Lod. Source: Zalman Collection

Burma Officials

U Nu the first foreign prime minister in the world to visit Israel on a state trip. See enclosed photo with Zalman and the prime minister. This early blossoming friendship between these new countries shared much in common, such as celebrating Myanmar’s declaration of independence from the United Kingdom in 1948 and much more. You can read more at the Tablet Magazine article.


From left to right: Zalman's wife (Gerty), Zalman and U Nu. Source: Zalman Collection

West Germany Diplomatic Officials

From the start of rebuilding diplomatic relations between two historically challenged countries, it first began with the Reparations Agreement between Israel and the Federal Republic of Germany in the 1950s. Later, the relationship evolved to promote dialogue concerning regional conflicts. Those issues included the Middle East, where Germany helped build contacts between Israel and the PLO a decade later. Enclosed are landmark visits with Zalman participation with Germany’s high ranking officials. For example, Willy Brandt and Konrad Adenauer.

Enclosed is Israel High Ranking Officials Meeting German Diplomats


Circa 1952, from left, can’t identify the other gentlemen, but after Ben-Gurion, Zalman and Konrad Adenauer on far right. Source: Zalman Collection

Ben Gurion asked Zalman to meet the German diplomats behalf of Israel, regardless of what happened to him personally with the lost of his parents during the holocaust.


Circa 1960’s Zalman and Willy Brandt. Source: Zalman Collection

Welcoming United States Ambassador to Israel

Photo of event in Israel Circa 1955 or 1959 of an event with Ben-Gurion or Golda Meir, from far right, Zalman and Gerty, then David Dubinsky and his wife Emma, and Ogden Reid, a former U.S. Ambassador to Israel and a six-term United States Representative from New York, and his wife.


Zalman and Gerty, then David Dubinsky and his wife Emma, and Ogden Reid. Source: Zalman Collection

Enclosed is a gratitude letter to Zalman for his event planning with the American Trade Union Council.



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