Asaf Zamir was appointed by then-Foreign Minister Yair Lapid as Israel’s Consul to New York on December 13, 2021. On March 26, he announced his resignation in protest of Justice Minister Yariv Levin’s judicial reform and the firing of Defense Minister Yoav Gallant – one day before Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu suspended the legislation. On March 30, Foreign Minister Eli Cohen announced that Zamir was fired since he hadn’t followed through with the necessary procedure to terminate his service.
I have no idea why Minister Cohen didn’t let go of this Lapid plant in the foreign service as soon as the Likud government was formed, but Saturday night, in a revolting interview on News12, Zamir declared knowingly: “The most important thing I want to say is that this is a real emergency alert, and we are losing the United States, and we are a protectorate of the United States (he used the term “medinat hassut” meaning a sponsored state, or a protectorate), and we depend in many ways on this relationship.”
The shocked interviewer asked: “That bad?”
And Zamir insisted, “We depend on our relationship with the United States, it is important to us, we must comprehend its aspects.”
מדינת ישראל היא מדינת חסות של ארה״ב
מזל שהאיש הזה פוטר. pic.twitter.com/bYwOKWIAxD
— אביחי חדד avihai haddad (@avihaihaddad) April 1, 2023
It’s a serious question whether Israel would be better off without its special relationship with the Biden administration, which has positioned itself so clearly on the side of the anti-reform demonstrators, there might as well be pictures out there of President Joe negotiating his way down the overpass to Ayalon Highway.
Prime Minister Netanyahu tested the “protectorate” relationship with the US in March 2015, when he addressed both houses of Congress in defiance of President Barack Obama’s pro-Iran policies. He was not the first Israeli premier to get into a fight with a US administration. In 1991, PM Yitzhak Shamir (Likud) resisted American pressure to attend the Madrid “peace talks” that revived the effort to establish a Palestinian State. President George Bush I retaliated by withholding US loan guarantees to help absorb immigrants from the former Soviet Union in Israel. Shamir eventually gave in and Madrid paved the way to the Oslo accords that paved the way to 30 years of violence and bloodshed. Thank you, Mr. President.
So, Is Israel a United States protectorate? Perhaps, as one commenter on Twitter suggested, the US should withdraw its ambassador to Israel and appoint instead a high commissioner to monitor the special relationship. Jerusalem already has a residence where he could settle, with a magnificent view of the Old City.
Likud MK and former editor of Israel Hayom Boaz Bismuth tweeted in response: “Sir, you must be confused. You represented Israel in New York, and not New York in Israel. Welcome back.”
Zamir’s wife Maya Wertheimer, daughter of late billionaire Eitan Wertheimer, and granddaughter of Israeli industrialist billionaire and former MK Stef Wertheimer posted on Instagram that she and her husband were already in Israel on the occasion of her father’s first yahrzeit, adding that they intend to return to NY City after the event, so Zamir could serve the remainder of his term – this after he had already tweeted, “I resign,” accompanied by an Israeli flag.
Cohen tweeted: “Asaf Zamir announced his resignation on Twitter, but wanted to continue in the position for an unspecified time. I decided to fire him immediately. A diplomat who takes a political side cannot represent the State of Israel for even one day. Good luck in the future.”
It’s no coincidence that the former official who is so concerned about the chance the US would punish Israel for its pesky independence is married into one of Israel’s wealthiest families. This entire protest movement is an act of rebellion of the rich against the poor in Israel, the insiders against the outsiders who for the first time since they took power in 1977 are daring to take over the permanent institutions of government as well. Rich people don’t like that, neither in Israel nor in the US.