Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Israeli officials, diplomats free to speak Netanyahu's mind

Akiva Eldar, al-monitor.com

Image from article, with caption: Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) sits next to Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman after delivering a statement in Jerusalem, Nov. 21, 2012.

“I call on you and your subordinates, once again, to keep speaking your minds,” Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon demanded of the army’s officers in a speech he delivered at a May 15 reception marking Independence Day. ...
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, on the other hand, argued that the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) “is the people's army and needs to be kept away from political divisions." Netanyahu’s response to Ya'alon was clearly directed also at Deputy Chief of Staff Maj. Gen. Yair Golan, who said in a May 4 speech on the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day that he sees "revolting" trends in Israel reminiscent of "the abhorrent processes that took place in Europe, and Germany in particular, some 70, 80 or 90 years ago."
The message Netanyahu sends is that a good foreign service is one whose managers, junior as well as senior, keep their opinions to themselves. Any hint of leaning to the left results in the shortening of desirable missions abroad.
Senior Foreign Ministry officials have been telling correspondents and analysts of diplomatic affairs, among them yours truly, that there’s a complete disconnect between the professional and the political levels. Had they not been afraid of being heard, the officials would have burst out laughing upon hearing claims that Golan’s comments “caused a great deal of damage to Israel’s public diplomacy throughout the world,” to quote Science, Technology and Space Minister Ophir Akunis. ...
The Foreign Ministry doesn’t only engage in public diplomacy. Professional units within that godforsaken ministry deal with essential and sensitive issues relating to national security. The Strategic Affairs Division, for example, deals with the Iranian nuclear issue, among other things, and the Center for Policy Research, established following the intelligence failure of the 1973 Yom Kippur War, is tasked with supplementing the intelligence assessments of the military and the Mossad. Meanwhile, the National Security Council, which reports directly to the prime minister, exists mostly on paper. ...

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