Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Interview with Linda Divon

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DIPLOMAT MAGAZINE “For diplomats, by diplomats” Reaching out the world from the European Union First diplomatic publication based in The Netherlands Founded by members of the diplomatic corps on June 19th, 2013. Diplomat Magazine is inspiring diplomats, civil servants and academics to contribute to a free flow of ideas through an extremely rich diplomatic life, full of exclusive events and cultural exchanges, as well as by exposing profound ideas and political debates in our printed and online editions.

By Bonnie Klap.

In our monthly interviews with spouses of Diplomats, we strive to get to know the man or woman behind the serving Diplomat.  This month it is the turn of Linda Divon, wife of His Excellency Mr. Haim Divon, Ambassador of Israel. As we arrive at her  residence, Linda Divon turns out to be an elegant, soft-spoken lady, who likes to paint with water colors and oils , but of course there is more to her than meets the eye. Who is Linda Divon?

Linda Divon has lived in a variety of countries with her husband and children before arriving in The Netherlands almost two and a half years ago.

“We have had postings in India, Sri Lanka, Ethiopia and Canada twice and in every country we have made life-long friendships with locals as well as with other expatriates.   Before coming to The Netherlands we already had Dutch friends. In the mid to late nineties we flew to The Netherlands twice for family cycling holidays.  We stayed with our friends in Baarn and from there took the train to a destination where we started our 4-day cycling tour. Every day we would cycle something like 50-60 kilometers!” Mrs. Divon tells me.

So Linda Divon is obviously an active lady.

“Yes, I go to the gym very regularly and have a personal trainer. I love walking in The Hague and I also cycle when weather permits. My husband is even more dedicated to sports- almost obsessed!  He’ll even go to the gym when he’s sick!”she laughs.

In addition to her active physical lifestyle, Mrs. Divon also takes Dutch lessons and devotes a great deal of her time serving as President of the AWC, the American Women’s Club of The Hague. Just before starting this interview she was busy working on her speech and agenda for the Annual General Meeting at her club. She would love to get back to her art lessons and to painting and says that this is her New Year’s Resolution.

“Due to the many country moves, I have always had to be flexible and to adapt to new situations as quickly as possible. I think that the wife/mother is the rock in a diplomatic family. She is the glue that keeps it all together.”

“This is our very first posting without children. Today our children are living all over the world- in Israel, Toronto-Canada and Boston-U.S. I think that we were lucky to have been able to expose our children to various cultures. It taught them to be open minded and accepting of all peoples. It definitely made them worldly.”

“During our posting in Canada our youngest daughter Michal, who was 17 at the time, started a peace building initiative. It is called Peace Camp Canada.  It was a program which brought Palestinian and Israeli youth together for a two week program with the aim of breaking down stereotypes and building bridges. It indeed was a life changing experience for all,”  explains Linda. After returning to Israel Linda became the Regional Director. In addition to the summer program Linda arranged workshops for the youth in Haifa. Linda together with her daughter Michal and son Elan continued with this initiative for 4 years. In 2007 they received a full grant from the government of Canada for their program. Linda continues to stay in touch with all the Peace Camp Canada participants.

In what way does she support her husband?

“ We met when we were so young- 19 or 20. Being an adventurous young girl I decided to study overseas at the Hebrew University for one year. During that time I did some volunteer work at Hadassah Hospital and my future husband was there as a patient, recovering from an injury. That’s how it started and the rest is history!”

I realized very early that with a career diplomat as a husband I would not be able to have and to build my own career. I have encouraged and supported my husband throughout his 30+ year career.   When we are overseas at a posting I am totally involved and committed to being a good ambassador for Israel. We are a team and we truly complement one another. I accompany my husband to many functions in The Hague as well as throughout The Netherlands. Whether it be visiting the Mayor of Kampen or the Mayor of Middleburg or the Lieutenant Governor of a Province, or going down to the Phillips Headquarters in Eindhoven or meeting with the CEO of Ten Cate or visiting one of the Jewish communities in Maastricht or Enschede or when he is a guest speaker, I will be by his side.

Her impression of her new home town, The Hague?

“I love it. It’s a green and elegant city. It has the feel of a big village. Everything is accessible and there is a good quality of life here in The Hague.”

In concluding the interview, Linda ended by saying that in spite of all the difficulties of moving and raising children all over the world, she feels blessed for such an interesting, exciting and enriching life. The experiences that she has had and the wonderful multicultural friendships that she has made all over the world far outweigh those difficult times.

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