24 February 2016

Tzipi Hotovely and the unbearable goodness of our foreign relationships

But this post must start not with Ms Hotovely, our valiant Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, but with her boss, one Benjamin Netanyahu aka Bibi, holder of the Minister of Foreign Affairs portfolio.

It is difficult to explain why the said portfolio is held in a kind of an escrow or, rather, in a indefinite limbo by our PM. Of course, after a long row of smashing successes by its previous holder, Evet (Avigdor) Lieberman, it might be understandable that Bibi is cautious about assigning the job to anyone. There might be other explanations to the empty chair, such as:
  1. Bibi is keeping the portfolio to award it to one of the potential newcomers to his coalition, in case of emergency - such as Herzog or Lapid.
  2. Bibi hates the mere thought of handing the portfolio over to his enemy and coalition partner Naftali Bennett.
  3. Bibi considers himself the only citizen of Israel able to carry on his wide shoulders the burden of our foreign affairs.
  4. Bibi's passion for micromanagement prevents him from trusting this, second most important post in the government, to anyone else.
  5. Bibi prefers to handle the important foreign contacts and negotiations either himself or via officials and friends he keeps close to him.
Whatever the reasons for the phenomenon are, the results are rather sad: constantly dwindling funds for the foreign ministry, closure of some embassies and consulates, considered less vital, reduction of staff positions abroad, almost permanent state of unrest in the embassies and in the ministry itself due to frozen salaries and poor working and social conditions, especially abroad etc. Frequently, in cases considered by Bibi important, he entrusts his emissaries with handling the contacts abroad directly, over the head of the serving ambassador or other embassy functionaries.

Here comes a telling example of Great Britain, hardly fit for classification of "less important". At the time of this post (February 2016), 7 months have passed since the previous Israeli ambassador in London left. Still no replacement in sight. And meanwhile:

Hundreds of London tube trains plastered with anti-Israel ads
BDS activists target 500 trains in what local government calls ‘an act of vandalism’ at start of Israeli Apartheid Week
And here is our response:
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he asked Foreign Ministry chief Dore Gold, who is currently in London, to demand that the British government see to it that the offending posters were taken down.
Nice to know Dore Gold happens to be in London... Or this:

Israelis accused of rape and organ harvesting at SOAS
Last night SOAS lecturer Rafeef Ziadah hosted SOAS’ first “Israel Apartheid Week” panel event in front of 300 students and it wasn’t long before the sickening propaganda started flying.

Sahar Francis of Addameer, a prisoner support group, said that Palestinian hunger striker Islam Hamed was threatened with rape by his guards and that Israel’s prison authorities hoped he would die so the courts would implement a “forced feeding bill”.

She continued that Israel has been rumoured to harvest organs from its own car accident victims and from dead Palestinians.

But, you might say, this could happen with or without the ambassador's presence. Only here is another aspect of forsaking the embassies:
“Israeli Apartheid Week” continues for the next two weeks at SOAS where there is an exhibition of photos of Palestinian rock-throwers and dead Palestinians with claims that they have been “executed” by Israel. All this is going virtually unchallenged as is the case throughout the country. [emphasis mine]
Richard Millet, the author of the post linked above and quoted here, asks on his Facebook page:
Tonight at SOAS Jews living in Israel were accused of using rape as torture and of organ harvesting their own dead people as well as Palestinians. On the way out one woman was giving out Christian Zionism leaflets and yet I had nothing to give. Why can't the ZF, BOD, JLC, We Believe help out? Please someone answer......
Yes, Richard didn't mention our embassy, probably knowing the futility of such expectations. And whose job it is to challenge the waves of anti-Zionist and antisemitic incitement abroad? Hon. Dore Gold's - during his visits?

And here comes our brave and gormless Tzipi Hotovely with a radiant expression on her face, bubbling about our superb international standing. The article is in Hebrew, so only a few choice examples of government-sponsored sloganeering:
  • Reality shows that Israel is not a pariah, but is being wooed.
  • Warm breeze is blowing towards Israel from the countries that for years were in alliance with the Arab world.
  • When Europe meets today the Prime Minister, the issue is how to fight terrorism.
  • Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely is certain - Israel's international situation is excellent.
  • We are an island of stability, but [we] don't know to appreciate it.
Well, enough already, methinks. Something warm is blowing indeed, breeze or not - you decide.

And yes, I know that our "Strategic affairs minister", Gilad Erdan, is put in charge of the good fight against BDS. Well, the man is known to make shambles of most of his projects, and he already started this one on a wrong foot:
... and intends to appoint 10 anti-BDS coordinators to central embassies around the world. Erdan’s plan was met with mixed emotions in the Foreign Ministry...
Another fiasco in the making, but enough said.

And so it rolls. Right, Bibi?