The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs is a place where you can make dreams come true, Anat Fisher-Tsin says.
“I always thought a diplomatic job is the most interesting job in the world because you get to dream big, then when you tell the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that this is your dream, they just tell you, ‘Then go and do it,’ ” Israel’s deputy consul general to the Southeast said.
Fisher-Tsin should know. Although it wasn’t as simple as dreaming it and making it happen but instead was a two-year process, she’s proof of the ministry’s ability to make dreams come true.
She decided after 12 years with Israel’s Immigration Authority, which she helped build from 20 to 600 employees as a legal adviser, that she was ready for a new challenge.
She knew people at the Foreign Ministry and landed a spot in a cadet class of 26, where she was in the majority as a woman but in the minority as a mother of three closer to age 40 than 30. She also supplemented her government experience with 12 years of education at Bar-Ilan University, where she studied criminology and law, journalism and communication, and negotiation and conflict management.
“I think you could say that I am not the average MFA cadet,” Fisher-Tsin said.
But as she told the AJT in an interview in October, 2½ months after she arrived in Atlanta from Petah Tikva at age 39 with husband Oded and their three sons (ages 4 to 11) for her first diplomatic posting, she felt after each conversation about the Foreign Ministry that “this is where I want to be.”
That same phrase could apply to Atlanta, which Fisher-Tsin said was her first choice for her first three-year stint abroad, and to a consulate, where she deals with culture, politics, business and other fields beyond passports and visas.
“You get to represent your country, and that’s very important for me,” she said. She felt the lack of that bigger service role during her one year in private law practice before she went to work for the Israeli government, originally with the Interior Ministry. “There is something when you work for your country, when you represent the people and you’re responsible for the changes in the society.”
She’s helping demonstrate the contrast between society in Israel and many of its Middle Eastern neighbors. She and Ambassador Judith Varnai Shorer, the consul general in Atlanta, form a rare but not unique female team at the top of an Israeli diplomatic mission.
“In Atlanta, the sky’s the limit. It’s such a friendly place, and you get the feeling that people want to work with you and want to cooperate,” Fisher-Tsin said. “You can dream. People want to do things. They want to work together.”
In some countries and U.S. regions, Israeli diplomats must play defense on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and battle the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement. But “this is not the main thing that we are dealing with,” Fisher-Tsin said. “We are very fortunate when it comes to that.”
The consulate covers Missouri, Kentucky, West Virginia, Tennessee, the Carolinas and Georgia.
“In Atlanta, you can decide to do something and then just do it, and you get the feeling that anything is possible,” she said. “The city’s friendly. People are interested in knowing Israel and getting to know Israel, and not just the Jewish community.”
As a result, the consulate can work with partners on projects such as this fall’s six-week Exposed dance festival, which brought elite Israeli talent to Atlanta.
Fisher-Tsin doesn’t yet know what she’ll do to leave a mark equivalent to that groundbreaking festival. “I can say I am glad I got to start in Atlanta because this is a place of doing things, not just trying to do things. You can actually get the experience. … You can actually think of a plan and then execute a plan.”
Someday, she said, she hopes that experience will help her gain the title of an Israeli ambassador.