"we’re a crappy state"

January 12, 2010

In News The Israel-Palestine Conflict

Assaf Gefen takes grim look at Israeli diplomacy and our current international status

After the promises to detain former Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni in London and indict former IDF Chief of Staff Moshe Yaalon in Madrid, international human rights groups recently threatened to serve indictments against IDF soldiers visiting South Africa, which will be hosting the next World Cup.

This clearly entails a dangerous escalation in the international struggle to prevent Israelis from paying inflated prices for soccer games. This initiative (it’s unclear whether it stemmed from the crimes committed by Israel during Operation Cast Lead in Gaza, or rather, the crimes committed by our national team’s terrible performance at the World Cup qualifiers) doesn’t sound good.

We can of course slam our government over the fact that the gates of the world are being shut to Israelis, yet our officials may be smarter than us; perhaps all this “international boycott” business is a sly initiative by the Tourism Ministry, after officials there realized that the only way to convince Israelis to take a vacation in Israel is to eliminate all other options. Soon we may see the next part of the campaign, accompanied by the slogan: “Vacation in Israel – because you have no other choice.”

Those who remained concerned, for some reason, over our global status, were able to relax once and for all after hearing the speech delivered by Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman to Israeli envoys worldwide. The minister used the platform in order to make it clear to our diplomatic staff that “the era of ingratiation is over,” and that “we shall no longer turn the other cheek” – apparently to make it clear that, even though many people confuse them recently, he is not Jesus.

What you see is what you get

We can of course be surprised to see a foreign minister confusing his role as diplomat with the job of a security guard in a Haifa club, and also note the grave damage that Lieberman’s appointment caused to our diplomatic image. However, we should show forgiveness to his periodic outbursts of anger, which are merely an outlet for a man with plenty of free time, who in the past year mostly dealt with the signing of ceasefire agreements with western Africa tribes.

Similarly to the man who appointed him, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Lieberman talks more and does less, putting style before substance. Yet as opposed to Bibi, “Mr. PR,” who believes any rotten merchandize can be sold in a nicer package and using smooth words, Lieberman’s policy package comes with more exclamation marks than a cigarette package. If we must find a ray of light in Lieberman’s presence in the Foreign Ministry and its effect on our global image, it is that U-turn from Netanyahu’s telemarketing policy. With Lieberman, what you see is what you get.

In the wake of the foreign minister’s speech, we should hope that Lieberman’s truth-seeking and uncompromising message will indeed get through, and our ambassadors abroad would put an end to their silly efforts to convince the world that we’re ok, instead making it clear to all interested parties that we’re a crappy state, and that for their sake they should look for friends elsewhere.