A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Danny Ayalon's Selective and Eclectic Diplomacy

Some Foreign Ministries actually practice diplomacy and let other parts of their governments insult friends and allies. I suppose it's no surprise that Avigdor Lieberman's Foreign Ministry in Israel isn't one of them, but Danny Ayalon, the Deputy Foreign Minister, actually has a diplomatic background (I won't use the stereotyped cliche of referring to Lieberman as an "ex-bouncer" because it' s stereotyping but oh, I guess I just did.)

Ayalon was Ambassador to the United States from 2002 to 2006, yet he has just snubbed a US Congressional delegation, creating puzzlement since they were there at the invitation of a Jewish organization that the Netanyahu government is not fond of, J Street, which few other than the Israeli Foreign Ministry confuse with Hamas. This has led to an apology by a senior official, and has led to memories of the earlier snub of the Turkish Ambassador which also produced an apology. Or two.

On the other hand, Ayalon, while snubbing friendly Turks and Americans, was hale-fellow-well-met with a senior Saudi Prince, though that also had the advantage of embarrassing a longtime back-channel interlocutor with a public YouTube video.

And Ayalon's the professional diplomat on Lieberman's senior staff.

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