web analytics
April 21, 2014 / 21 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘ministry of foreign affairs’

Philly Jews Rallying to Prevent Closure of Israeli Consulate

Wednesday, November 6th, 2013

For years the Israeli Consulate located in Philadelphia has been rumored to be on the chopping block, but each time the executioner’s swing was stayed.

Just last month, however, the word came from Jerusalem that this time Israel’s Mid-Atlantic Consulate which serves Pennsylvania, Delaware, West Virginia, Southern New Jersey and Kentucky was slated to close, according to insiders.

But local Jews, including many Israelis, are not willing to take the eviction notice as a done deal.

The argument for closing the Consulate located in Philly is that it is believed to be imperative to open a new Consulate in China, and therefore, for financial reasons, an existing consulate has to close.

Israel not only has embassies in Beijing and Ghounzhou, it also has a consulates in Shanghai as well as one in Hong Kong. The location of a new consulate in Chengdou, which is located in China’s central Sichuan region, would place it in an important financial and communications center.  Still, there are fewer than 3,000 Jews amidst a population of 1.3 billion Chinese.

Currently, Israel has 90 embassies and consulates around the world, including nine consulates in the United States.  Those are in Boston, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Miami, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

In some countries there are consulates, but very few Jews.  Put aside what might be strategic reasons for maintaining an Israeli presence in most African countries or countries in dangerous neighborhoods which permit the Jewish state to maintain a presence.

It is hard to imagine a strong reason for Israel to maintain an office in, say, Belarus, which has somewhere between 12,000 to 24,000 Jews left. That’s because Hitler wiped out four out of every five Belorussian Jews in 1941.  Still, the numbers continue to dwindle, not swell.

And then there’s Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, which have fewer than 50,000 in the two countries combined. To say nothing of Myanmar, which has few if any Jews left at all. Yet those countries will continue to play host to an official Israeli presence, while the mid-Atlantic region of the U.S. is said to be not just on the chopping block, but with the knife already on the downswing.

The Philadelphia Israel Chamber of Commerce has marshaled the strongest financial arguments to keep Israel’s Mid-Atlantic regional consulate open.

“While it is a blow to our community, it would be an even greater loss to Israel,” is how Vered Nohi-Becker, the executive director of the Philadelphia Israel Chamber of Commerce, described the rumored close to The Jewish Press.

“This is a large and important region which is accelerating U.S.-Israeli business development and which plays a key role in maintaining the cultural, political and philanthropic ties to Israel,” Nohi-Becker continued.

One example of those ties is the 10-day trade mission to Israel that Philadelphia’s mayor, Michael A. Nutter, is on right now.

“The consulate was instrumental in making those connections, as is the case with so many different delegations from the area which visit Israel,” according to Nohi-Becker.

Nohi-Becker’s boss, Chamber president Richard Bendit, said in a massive email sent out to its constituents that “approximately 25% of Israel’s $5 billion of exports to the US passes through the Greater Philadelphia region, which boasts the fifth largest Jewish community in the US.”  Those are big numbers.

The local chamber of commerce also initiated an online petition to send to the government of Israel, in order to allow its members to see that the Israeli consulate located in Philadelphia is one that will be sorely missed.

The staff and directors of the Israeli Consulate in Philadelphia were not willing to comment beyond their earlier statement that “no firm decision had yet been made.”

But area Israelis were quick to voice their deep concern.

Sharonna Durry, founder of PhillyIsrael and now executive director of Bnai Zion Foundation’s Mid-Atlantic Region was emphatic: “It will hurt the region if there is no official representative of the government of Israel here,” Durry told The Jewish Press.

Bnai Zion is a 101 year old service organization that raises money for humanitarian projects in Israel and America. Durry explained that the current Consul General, Yaron Sideman, came to a Bnai Zion event on October 23.

The Ministry of Extraneous Affairs

Thursday, March 28th, 2013

I begin with a full disclosure: a few months ago the Ministry of Foreign Affairs sent me to an Asian country to advise its government in understanding a difficult matter regarding the Islamic population of that state and how to deal with this matter. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs organized the event perfectly, in both the professional and logistical aspects, and the Israeli ambassador of that state personally accompanied me in my meetings with the local professionals.

These days, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is preparing a promotional film on Israel, and in the leading role is Bar Rafaeli, whose participation in the film arouses a wave of objection, because she did not serve in the military. Some official sources also objected, especially the IDF itself, because her participation in an official film produced by the state of Israel could be interpreted as sending a message of leniency towards people who have not served in the IDF. These days, when “sharing the burden equally” has become a political mantra on the level of “It is better to die than commit certain sins”, the IDF expects the Ministry of Foreign Affairs not to act in a way that whitewashes the evasion of military service in the IDF. But it seems that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs does not think it’s a problem.

This case – in my view – is an indication of the way too many people in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs think. The employees of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs are public servants, not appointed by the minister, and most are graduates of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ cadet’s course. This was supposed to provide the state of Israel with a working staff that is professional and relevant, and executes the decisions of the government professionally and faithfully, and without dispute.

IN FACT, the reality is totally different. The social profile of workers in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is fairly suitable to the model of the “Akhusalim” – coined by the sociologist Prof. Baruch Kimmerling, who described the state of Israel of the 1970s as being governed by an elite group of people who were Ashkenazim (Jews of European descent), secular, members of the old guard, socialist, and nationalist, forming the Hebrew acronym Akhusal.

In general, one can say that the political, social, diplomatic and cultural agenda of the staff of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs resembles that of the Labor party (and perhaps also Meretz) much more than it resembles that of the Likud, despite the fact that since 1977 there have been more than a few governments led by the Likud. The proportion of religious, ultra-Orthodox, and Arabs who are staff members of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is significantly lower than their proportional representation in the population of the state of Israel.

As a result of this, Avigdor Leiberman, a minister from the Right, found it difficult to impose  his political agenda on his subordinates because of the simple reason that he could not appoint staff that suited him. The political echelon (the prime minister and minister of foreign affairs) can appoint no more than eleven people in the ministry, from the level of ambassador to the person who serves tea, and a minister who cannot place his people in key positions will find it difficult to control what is done in the ministry. My sense is that Leiberman was “persona non grata” in the eyes of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs staff.

THE POLITICAL agenda of the staff in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has created an absurd situation, in which the ministry that is the spokesman for the policies of the prime minister and is responsible for hasbara (dissemination of public relations information), is entrusted with explaining government positions, despite the prime minister being far from being of “one mind” with the officials in the ministry of foreign affairs.

This disparity became obvious in the early 2000s, when the prime minister was Ariel Sharon and the minister of foreign affairs was Shimon Peres. With the passing of years, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has adopted political language that does not reflect the policy of Israel by using expressions such as “the occupied territories” (occupied from whom?), “settlements” (instead of communities), “Palestinian people” (even Azmi Bishara* doesn’t think that there is such a people) and “solution of two states for two peoples.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/analysis/dr-mordechai-kedar/the-ministry-of-extraneous-affairs/2013/03/28/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: