Danny Ayalon is the Deputy Foreign Minister of Israel. Both he and his boss, a racist from the Yisrael Beitanu [Israel Our Home] party named Avigdor Lieberman, represent an unfortunate trend of Israel being seen as less and less likable to its allies. But it is Ayalon who is in my line of fire this week, for several reasons.
Ayalon made the news last month because of an incident which a skilled diplomat could have handled discretely and in a dignified manner. Turkey, with whom relations with Israel have been going down the tubes, had one of its stations broadcast a program with anti-Semitic themes. A quiet complaint and message of understanding the balance between freedom of expression and placing Jews in danger would have been appropriate. But Ayalon, representing an increasingly tone-deaf Israel, made a mess of things:
Footage of Mr Ayalon urging journalists to make clear the ambassador was seated on a low sofa, while the Israeli officials were in much higher chairs, has been widely broadcast by the Israeli media.
He is also heard pointing out in Hebrew that “there is only one flag” and “we are not smiling”.
In an interview with Israel’s Army Radio on Tuesday, Mr Ayalon was unapologetic.
“In terms of the diplomatic tactics available, this was the minimum that was warranted given the repeated provocation by political and other players in Turkey,” he said, according to Reuters.
One Israeli newspaper marked the height difference on the photo, and captioned it “the height of humiliation”.
That, however, is not even my main problem with him. Massachusetts Congressman Bill Delahunt is part of a contingent of Democratic lawmakers in Israel, traveling as part of a mission sponsored by liberal lobby group J-Street. I will say that I have been warming to J-Street, although I do not like the arrogance of its identification as “pro-peace, pro-Israel”. [So is the Zionist Organization of America…it just has vastly different definitions of these terms than does J-Street.] Standard protocol is that such a delegation, if desired, may seek out an audience with Ministry officials. However, Alayon, because he feels that J-Street is not in fact “pro-Israeli“, has locked the delegation out from any such meetings:
“We were puzzled that the Deputy Foreign Minister has apparently attempted to block our meetings with senior officials in the Prime Minister’s office and Foreign Ministry – questioning either our own support of Israel or that we would even consider traveling to the region with groups that the Deputy Foreign Minister has so inaccurately described as ‘anti-Israel,'” Delahunt continued.
“In our opinion this is an inappropriate way to treat elected representatives of Israel’s closest ally who are visiting the country – and who through the years have been staunch supporters of the U.S.-Israeli special relationship.”
Ayalon has clearly associated himself with the rabid right. The combination of this tone-deaf outlook and utter incompetence as a diplomat is making for an explosive combination. How dare he insult a delegation from the United States because their politics do not dovetail with his! It is men like Ayalon that will be the downfall of Israel. For that, he can go fuck himself.
Meanwhile, Michael Oren, in contrast to his dumbass administration colleague, is wisely making peace with J-Street. Good for him.