Missive from a perplexed diplomat
'My dear friend: Since Avigdor Lieberman's taking office I am beside myself.'
Confidential telegram. From: Israel Loyal, Israeli embassy, Utopia
My dear friend,
Since Avigdor Lieberman's taking office I am beside myself. I am two years shy of retirement and I thought this might be the time to tell our so-called leaders what I think of them, to slam the door in their face and go home.
I have always been an old-school Mapainik - not radical left, heaven forbid. When we graduated our cadet course, Abba Eban was foreign minister. When Yitzhak Shamir from the underground became foreign minister, we thought it was the end of the world, but we stayed put. David Levy and Silvan Shalom were no Kissingers, but we got used to them, too.
When Benjamin Netanyahu appointed Ariel Sharon foreign minister, my kids asked whether I was not ashamed of working for the one from Sabra and Chatila. I told them I was a civil servant, and served no one but the state.
The day after the elections I reprimanded the media for making a big deal out of Lieberman. I said that, with all due respect, he received a total of a little more than 10 percent of the vote. I calmed down the reporters (and myself), saying there was no way Lieberman would fill a central foreign policy role in any future cabinet. Yesterday my eldest grandson called and asked what I would do when the man who wants to get rid of our Arab citizens comes for a visit.
What do I tell him? That I'm just doing my job? When I think that my deputy, a young Arab diplomat, will have to host Lieberman, I get the chills. I asked him, jokingly of course, if he has signed the loyalty-to-the-State-of-Israel form already. I don't envy our guys in Cairo, who have to explain how their peace-loving state appointed to a top diplomatic post a man who threatened to bomb the Aswan Dam and cursed the Egyptian president to hell.
Journalists ask me how the new Israeli government proposes to solve the conflict and I really don't know what to say. As you know, we got good mileage out of Ehud Olmert's interview with Haaretz, when he said that if we don't separate from the Palestinians, Israel would soon cease to be a Jewish democracy. When they asked me about dismantling the illegal outposts and freezing settlement construction, I said that we were already close to an agreement that would return most of the West Bank to the Palestinians. It would be a pity, I explained, to waste troops on evacuating a few miserable outposts and cause a coalition crisis for a few hundred additional houses.
What do we sell the goyim now? Can we replace the mantra "Ehud Barak gave them everything and Yasser Arafat repaid him with terror" with "Olmert gave Abu Mazen the best offer and the coward ran away"? We both know this nonsense will liquidate whatever's left of the peace camp.
The Middle East staffers in Utopia's foreign ministry are not suckers. They are fed up with sending millions of dollars to the Middle East every year. The economic crisis is palpable here, too, and already some politicians and commentators are asking why their taxpayers should foot the bill of Israeli occupation. One official reminded me that the entire "donor states" matter is not philanthropy but an instrument to advance the peace process. He suggested that I make it clear to my superiors that if Netanyahu intends to gamble on the Iranian card and endlessly extend the negotiations with the Palestinians, we will have to pay the teachers' and doctors' salaries in the West Bank.
So what do you suggest? Should I return home and tell the media what awaits us in states like Utopia? On the other hand, between you and me, what has the previous government done - aside from speeches and wars, promises and settlements? And most annoying of all - Tzipi Livni said that after hearing Lieberman, she is even happier that Kadima hasn't joined the government. What does she think, that we're all idiots? I haven't forgotten how she chased him, begging him to leave Netanyahu and join her [to form a coalition]. Not to mention our Labor Party friends - like Avishay Braverman, who, a day after blasting Moshe Ya'alon for flip-flopping, was strutting about like a peacock with his bodyguard.
And what about Shelly Yachimovich? She's lashing out at Barak and Benjamin Ben-Eliezer, but remains in the Knesset faction and at the end of the month takes home a paycheck and probably a handsome holiday gift as well. Actually, come to think of it, they're all leading us to the same nowhere.