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Friday, August 07, 2009

Livni holdover slams Israel's relations with US

Israel's consul general in Boston, Nadav Tamir, a man whose service in the foreign ministry began under Shimon Peres (1993) and whose position in Boston pre-dates the Netanyahu government, lashed out at the government on Thursday due to its handling of the US-Israel relationship.
In the three-page letter, entitled "Sad passing thoughts on Israeli-US relations," Nadav Tamir wrote that the perception of a conflict between Israel and the Obama administration was harming US public support for Israel, and causing it more damage than the Second Lebanon War or Operation Cast Lead.

"The way in which we are conducting the relationship with the US government is causing Israel strategic damage. The distance created between us and the Obama administration has clear implications on Israeli deterrence," Tamir was quoted as writing.

The Israeli consul went on to say that narrow political considerations were contributing to the deterioration of the ties. "There are people in the US and Israeli politics who ideologically oppose [US President Barack] Obama, and are willing to sacrifice the special relationship between the two countries in order to advance their political agenda."

He also took the government to task for making differences with the US public, while Washington was trying to downplay them. "There have always been differences in the stances of the two countries, but the governments were careful to make sure they were coordinated," he reportedly wrote.

According to Tamir, many in the US were lumping Israel together with Iran and North Korea as disobedient governments that Obama had to deal with.

The current situation, he said, is hurting American Jewry as well.

"The atmosphere of confrontation between the Israeli government and the Obama administration puts the American-Jewish community, which is so important to us, in a difficult position," he wrote. "Many of them are distancing themselves from the state of Israel because of this conflict."

The Prime Minister's Office issued a statement saying Tamir's letter was "not worthy of a response."
Or did they? JPost mentions a response that is more fully described in Haaretz.
A spokesperson for Netanyahu issued a statement to Channel 10 which accused Tamir of violating protocol by expressing "political views" against the premier.

Tamir refused a Haaretz request for comment. The Israeli consulate in Boston said the memorandum is an internal Foreign Ministry document that was not for the media's consumption.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor told the Associated Press late Thursday, "We don't comment on leaked reports."
But JPost adds:
At the same time, one senior source characterized the letter as "unprofessional," and said the title of the letter, as well as the fact that it was widely distributed, demonstrated that it was meant to make public Tamir's political opinions.

"It is a unfortunate that an Israeli diplomat launched this type of an attack on Israel policies, attempting to cause deliberate harm," the source said.
The foreign ministry has been a stronghold of Israel's Left for most of the last 17 years. Israel's foreign service is ideologically opposed to Prime Minister Netanyahu's policies. Nearly all of them have made their careers on the discredited Oslo process. Netanyahu is the anti-Oslo and Israel's Left has a visceral hatred for him.

On top of that, Tamir is in one of the United States' bluest cities and his views may be colored by the constant hum of Kumbaya in the background.

This will blow over. But in the long run, Israel has to remake its foreign service corps into a group that understands that Oslo failed and that it wasn't Israel's fault. This isn't the first embarrassing incident involving diplomats in the US, and unfortunately, it probably won't be the last either.

Oh and by the way, Israel would probably be better off if the US really were treating us like Iran and North Korea. Then Obama would be trying to 'engage' with us.


At 2:29 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

Agreed. If Israel were hostile and anti-American, you'd be surprised at how fast the US would run to make nice with it. Being "pro-American" is a liability in today's world. I don't think Nadav Tamir understands the big picture.

At 7:17 AM, Blogger Shy Guy said...

How about "YOU'RE FIRED!"?

At 7:27 AM, Blogger Carl in Jerusalem said...

Shy Guy,

I agree he should be fired (and debated including that in the post but decided it was obvious), but there's a much larger problem that needs to be addressed. The foreign ministry is full of 'diplomats' hired by Peres, Ben Ami, David Levy (although nominally a Likudnik not much to the right of Livni), Sylvan Shalom (ditto) and Livni. They need to be 'phased out.' (I would say 'purged' but that would make the wrong kind of headlines).

At 4:34 PM, Blogger Yaakov said...

Several years ago, i attended a major pro-Israel meeting at a large temple west of Boston. Nadav Tamir and his deputy were the featured speakers.

I came away completely discouraged. If these people were representing Israel in the battle for the hearts and minds of the American public, support for Israel was going to wither.

I particularly remember Tamir's rationale for refusing to engage with the Boston Globe over its generally jaundiced view of Israel.

This erstwhile spokesperson for Israel stated that one does not engage in debate with an agency that buys ink by the barrel.

Hasbara in New England was dead. By contrast, the consuls for other countries, from Turkey to Kazakhstan to Syria regularly published spirited defense for their countries.


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