Thursday, February 18, 2010

Ayalon vying for title of "Worst Diplomat Ever"

Who would ever have guessed that the extremist settler and human gaffe-machine Avigdor Lieberman would not be the most embarrassing element of the right-wing Netanyahu government? Instead, strangely enough, Lieberman's protege, Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon has easily become a pariah when it comes to representing his country well and behaving "diplomatically." Ayalon is a "diplomat" in the same way the Jonas Brothers are a rock band. Holding guitars, dancing on state, and singing (badly) does not make you an honest rock band any more than meeting foreign officials while drinking wine makes you a diplomat. It's about the swagger. You've got to behave diplomatically to be a diplomat. Ayalon is an arrogant clown who has had a long leash under Lieberman to go about degrading and disrespecting the 99% of people he meets that do not hold his McCarthyist paranoia and narcissism.

First Ayalon pulls what in the diplomatic world is now called the "Turkish tower" when he specifically told reporters at a meeting between himself and Turkish ambassador to Israel Oguz Celikkul in Hebrew to make sure they noted that Celikkul was seated lower than himself, "Prince Ayalon," that there was only an Israeli flag on the table, and that he was not smiling. All of this was supposed to be a snub to the Turkish ambassador over a television show produced in Turkey by a private company that portrayed Israeli soldiers in a negative light. Seriously, I think I've seen that show in the U.S. too. It's called the news. But seriously, Ayalon summons the Turkish ambassador, makes him wait outside the room while he talks to reporters for a half hour, and then specifically makes him sit much lower and without a Turkish flag also between them - over a television show? I think a concerned phone call would have sufficed and been a bit more diplomatic. I think the entire point of having diplomats it to convey the concerns of a government to others without angering or disrespecting them. Ayalon failed this basic job miserably, as Turkey threatened (and did for some time) recall its ambassador until Ayalon issued a formal apology, which he half did. To make up for his shortcomings, Israeli President Shimon Peres basically had to publicly slap him on the wrist, described him as "undiplomatic" and condemned the whole stunt. All of this remember, was over a Turkish television program the Israelis had some pretty minor concerns over.

Now Ayalon is showing that if there's going to be an Israel-Palestine Olympics (and there will be, albeit in a future post) and Failing at Diplomacy is going to be an event, he'll be a prime contender. He's to diplomacy what Shaun White is to snowboarding or Lindsey Vonn is to downhill skiing. Yesterday, Danny Ayalon refused to grant an audience to U.S. Representative Bill Delahunt and his congressional delegation who are touring Israel with J-Street, a left-leaning "pro-peace and pro-Israel" lobbying group in the U.S. So this is what our special relationship with Israel really is. We sign the big checks and they threaten our interests in the Middle East while flaunting every single minor request we have of them and refusing to even talk to our elected representatives when they show up in Israel. Ayalon did not only refuse to meet with the delegation, but also went so far as to try and block them from meeting any senior officials in Netanyahu's government. Ayalon also criticized J-Street, who although being zionist, supports a peaceful solution to the conflict and has been critical of Israeli settlements. Here's his McCarthyist paranoia on display, "The thing that troubles me is that they don't present themselves as to what they really are. They should not call themselves pro-Israeli." So J-Street cannot be "pro-Israeli" because they do not share the exact same extremist views that Ayalon himself does? The Israeli government's official statement insisted that they were indeed welcome to speaking with Delahunt but that if he was going to romp around Israel with J-Street, he might as well stay home. I find it immensely troubling that a very moderate, very Zionist American organization is being so boxed out by the Israeli government over some extremely minor policy disagreements. Why not just sit down with the whole delegation to be "diplomatic?" It's an hour of your time. If you'd like, find a way to convey your concern in some respectful way about J-Street's views. McCarthyism certainly is ripe in Israel right now.

So there you have it, Danny Ayalon sucks as a diplomat and sucks as a human being. Also, the Israeli government is suffering from "Red Scare" syndrome and refusing to even sit down with anyone that doesn't closely toe the official Israeli government line (Jerusalem in the ETERNAL CAPITAL OF THE JEWISH STATE OF ISRAEL, settlements don't hinder peace efforts but help them along, the IDF has never fired a shot in anger and is the pristine uncorrupted perfectly moral military force that God would use if he ever returned to Earth, and Israelis are the most peace-loving people to ever exist). If the Foreign Ministry cannot even grant an audience to J-Street (a Zionist lobby group of all people), why should we expect those negotiations with the Palestinians to get anywhere?

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