New Israeli diplomat in S.F. ready to flex his chutzpah

As Israel’s new deputy consul general based in San Francisco, Eyal Naor wants to open doors between his country and the Bay Area. To do that as best he can, he reminds himself of an Israeli expression.

“We always say if you [come to] a closed door, you look for the window. And if that’s shut, come through the chimney,” Naor said. “This is Israeli chutzpah.”

Eyal Naor

Naor, 37, has replaced Gideon Lustig, who departed when his term was up after five years of service, as the No. 2 person in the Israeli Consulate that serves the Pacific Northwest region. Naor said both Lustig and Andy David, the region’s consul general, diligently prepped him for the job, which he started Aug. 7.

“The city itself is amazing,” Naor said of San Francisco. “The people here are so nice, so polite. Everyone is welcoming. It’s not superficial. I have a good nose for this.”

When he was offered the position in San Francisco, Naor was posted at the Israeli Consulate in Serbia, where he had served since 2010. He accepted, he said, “in a millisecond.”

But while being based in the Bay Area is certainly a plum assignment, the region does present challenges for an Israeli diplomat. For starters, it covers a huge area, from Northern California to Montana and even Alaska. Also, the consulate’s 14-person staff has the extra responsibility of strengthening ties between Silicon Valley and Israel, and there’s the added challenge of navigating often choppy, sometimes anti-Israel, political waters.

Naor said joining the diplomatic corps was his lifelong ambition. A native of Tel Aviv, he served as an Israel Defense Forces paratrooper before graduating from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem with a degree in international relations and political science.

Before being accepted into the Foreign Ministry, he worked as a mission coordinator for Friends of the IDF and volunteered with the “Israel at Heart” program, an advocacy mission in Europe and the United States.

He views his diplomatic career as an extension of his Israel advocacy.

“I consider Israel a miracle,” Naor said. “When I think about the Jews that came from Russia, the Jews who left all behind coming from Ethiopia, and I’m now serving with great honor with Israeli diplomats who are Arab citizens, I’m still amazed.”

Naor has moved to the Bay Area with his wife, Karin, and the couple’s three young children. He has already enrolled his twin daughters in a local Jewish preschool.

As for his new job, Naor described himself as “sort of a wingman for Andy David.”

He added: “We will continue to engage with the different communities — Asian, Latino, Indian Americans. All are friends of ours, and we will try to enhance relations in more proactive ways. That’s the main vision. I’m here to assist.”

Dan Pine

Dan Pine is a contributing editor at J. He was a longtime staff writer at J. and retired as news editor in 2020.