World leaders, including many from around the region, offered condolences to Israeli President Isaac Herzog whose mother – and widow of the sixth president of Israel, Chaim Herzog – was laid to rest last week at Jerusalem’s Mount Herzl cemetery. 

Aura Herzog was 97 years old when she died. She was born in Egypt in 1924 after her parents were expelled from Jaffa by the Turks during the first World War. Aura immigrated to modern-day Israel in 1946, two years before the state was established, and became a member of the Haganah – the underground defense organization in British mandatory Palestine that preceded the IDF.

In his eulogy, President Herzog, mentioned his mother’s “pioneer” character and revealed that she was the one who gave him the nickname “Bougie” – which has stuck with him for life – as an expression of “true motherly love.” He told the story of how his parents fell in love in Cairo, when his father returned from the battles of the Second World War. 

“Your second love was for the State of Israel, for the sake of whose resurrection you made aliyah from Egypt; for whose sake you were seriously wounded in 1948; for whose success and prosperity you worked your whole life in many diverse realms,” Herzog said. “I have always wanted you to be remembered as the initiator of the Bible Quiz, in the context of the celebrations for Israel’s first decade of independence, which you coordinated—a quiz that we enjoy so much every year.” 

Over the past few days, Herzog has continued to receive letters and messages of condolences from world leaders. Among the Arab leaders who extended their sympathies to the Israeli President were Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, Jordan’s King Abdullah II, the King of Morocco Mohammen VI, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and leaders of the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.

Bahrain’s King Hamad Al Khalifa wrote: “We extend our sincere condolences to Your Excellency and to the family of the deceased, praying to God Almighty to bestow mercy and forgiveness on the deceased, and for your excellency and her relative’s patience and solace.” 

Herzog’s office said Abbas phoned the president and told him, “There is no doubt that the loss of a mother is a very difficult loss. I share in your sorrow.”

King Abdullah conveyed his sincere condolences to Herzog and his family. The two leaders discussed the late Aura Herzog’s public work and important legacy.

UAE Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed told Herzog in a phone call that he “identifies with the president’s sorrow, having lost his own father,” according to the Israeli readout.

UAE President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, Prime Minister and Dubai ruler Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, and Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan also sent condolences on the passing of Aura Herzog, Emirati state media said.

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