Lieberman Shames Turkish Ambassador, Torpedoes Israel-Turkish Relations
In most cases, a country’s foreign minister is responsible for furthering his nation’s economic and political interests abroad. Not in Israel. In that country, the current foreign minister seems responsible for hectoring any country he deems insufficiently supportive of Israel; and in a few instances like Egypt and Turkey he seems hell-bent on destroying relations altogether.
How else to explain the bizarre performance yesterday by Danny Ayalon, deputy Israeli foreign minister and capo di tutti of Avigdor Lieberman, at which he brusquely summoned the Turkish ambassador for a brushing down, and in a highly unusual move summoned press photographers to record the humiliation and pointedly noted that the ambassador was sitting in a lower position than the Israelis and that the latter refused to shake his hand. Here is how Yediot reported the story:
When the ambassador was finally asked to enter the room, his hosts instructed him to sit on a low couch opposite the higher chairs in which they were seated. The hosts, Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon, Foreign Ministry Deputy Director General for Europe, Naor Gilon [ed., and suspected Steven Rosen intelligence conduit], and Ayalon’s office director, David Segal did not smile at their guest and refused to shake his hand.
When the photographers suggested a handshake, the Foreign Ministry officials refused. “That is precisely the issue,” said Ayalon. Ayalon made sure that no one could have any doubts that the humiliation of the ambassador was anything but deliberate: “The important thing is that people see that he’s low and we’re high and that there is one flag here,” he said to the photographers.
This reminds me more of the battle between Freedonia and Sylvania in the Marx Brothers’ Duck Soup, than the behavior of a serious national diplomatic corps:
I have taken it upon myself to make one final effort to prevent war.
– No kidding? – I’ve talked to Ambassador Trentino, and he says Sylvania doesn’t want war either.
…I’ve taken the liberty of asking the ambassador to come over here. Because we both felt that a friendly conference would settle everything peacefully. He’ll be here any moment.
Mrs. Teasdale…I’d be only too happy to meet Ambassador Trentino and offer him on behalf of my country the right hand of good fellowship. And I feel sure he will accept this gesture in the spirit in which it is offered.
But suppose he doesn’t. A fine thing that’ll be. I hold out my hand and he refuses to accept it. That’ll add a lot to my prestige, won’t it? Me, the head of a country, snubbed by a foreign ambassador! Who does he think he is that he can come here and make a sap out of me in front of my people?
Think of it. I hold out my hand and that hyena refuses to accept it. Why, the cheap four-flushing swine! He’ll never get away with it, I tell you! He’ll never get away with it!
…So, you refuse to shake hands with me, eh?
Mrs. Teasdale, this is the last straw! There’s no turning back now! This means war!
Then it’s war!
I wonder whether Bibi Netanyahu, when he appointed Lieberman, realized what he was getting was closer to opera buffa than real diplomacy. Of course, this performance (which is precisely what it is) brings nothing but ridicule on Israel. Nations of the world wonder whether the Marx Brothers are running the MFA, instead of professional diplomats.
The Bibi scandal sheet, Yisrael HaYom revels in the political grandstanding with this brazen ‘Height of Humiliation’ photo.
What makes this even more buffoonish is that Lieberman is willing to create this international incident in order to score cheap domestic political points against a rival. Ehud Barak is scheduled for a major visit to Ankara this weekend. What better way to screw up the Labor Party leader’s efforts to get Syria-Israel negotiations back on track than to poison the well even before Barak arrives.
I’ve always felt that Israeli politics resembles an alligator wrestling pit more than anything else and this story confirms it. I’m afraid the analogy to an alligator pit may be doing these noble ancient beasts a disservice.
Turkey’s prime minister however, is a real national leader and no fool. He’s not playing this as opera and refuses to allow his ambassador to be publicly humiliated. Remember this is the same Erdogan who at Davos dressed down the incipiently senile Shimon Peres when the latter attempted to defend the Gaza war using the most bombastic propaganda. Now Erdogan is kickin’ butt and takin’ down names:
Turkey demanded an apology from Israel on Tuesday over what it called the discourteous treatment of its ambassador, further souring ties between the two regional powers on the eve of a visit by Israel’s defence minister.
…”We expect an explanation and apologies from Israeli authorities for the attitude against our Tel Aviv ambassador Oguz Celikkol, and the way this attitude was reflected,” the Turkish foreign ministry said in a statement.
“We call on the Israeli Foreign Ministry, whose behaviour and attitude towards our Tel Aviv Ambassador did not comply with diplomacy, to obey courtesy rules,” it said.
The MFA seemed to enjoy the tit for tat and responded with vintage hasbara:
“The Turks are the last people who can preach morality to the State of Israel and the IDF, which is the most moral army in the world.”
UPDATE: Ayalon has “apologized” for his behavior with a statement that typically lacks any crediblity:
…”It is not my way to insult foreign ambassadors and in the future I will clarify my position by more acceptable diplomatic means.”
13 thoughts on “Lieberman Shames Turkish Ambassador, Torpedoes Israel-Turkish Relations – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم”
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What an unbelievable story! And what a country Israel has become… Many people predicted that the occupation would ultimately destroy Israeli morality, and these last years the evidence of this really happening has become so clear that it is shocking. When you look at the modern Israeli leaders, you see people who are brutal, corrupt (some of rapists or harassers), and – as this incident shows – unbelievably vulgar and uncultured.
As to the IDF and its supposed moral superiority: Do these politicians not know, or do they not care that people outside of Israel regard that particular claim as ridiculous and/or insulting to their own defense forces? What world do they live in? It is as if they are trying to lose the last sympathy of the world on purpose by irritating the hell out of everyone.
Israel has basked in the warmth of an enormous public sympathy for years (this is a fact that applies to the entire western world). Now that this sympathy is fading, it is as if Israel is eager to believe that the world has ‘hated them anyway’ from the start, and so it doesn’t mind antagonizing the outside world even further. After all, anything is better than having to acknowledge that your own behavior may have anything to do with it…
Here, here, Elizabeth. But don’t forget, they have had a good example to follow in their master’s footsteps; contemporary USA!
Well…America elected Obama, who is certainly not vulgar and uncultured, so the American people seem to have wanted to mend their ways. It is true that the standard American claim that America is “the greatest nation on earth” regularly causes some rolling of eyes and shrugging of shoulders overseas, but you never get the impression that Americans say these things in order to intentionally antagonize the rest of the world. (It seems to be as if Americans do not realize that the rest of the world is listening, and might take offense. An insularity problem.)
With many Israelis on the other hand, you get the impression that they are obsessed with world opinion, and if you do not agree that everything they do is justified, well then, all courtesy is out the window and you are accused of being irrational and an anti-Semite.
Have other nations done such diplomatic humiliation tricks because of some tv-series or even when the relations between the countries were not good? I do not remember equal events in the past decades. Surely some countries’ diplomats might have arranged such seating stunts but nobody has been so stupid that they explain and brag about the “diplomatic message” to television crews. A world record in diplomatic (and general political) stupidity.
If “we” are afraid of the “unstable” North Korean, Iranian etc regimes, shouldn’t we be thousand time more afraid of the obviously mentally unstable Israeli regime suffering from severe superiority complexes. If an aggressive nuclear power treats others like it did with Turkey, because they do not approve how Israeli Jews are portrayed in Turkish tv series, what are they ready to do when the diplomatic disagreements are based on real and serious issues?
Every single thing about this incident is so stupid and ridiculous it makes me want to scream. Israeli government is creating such a big brouhaha over one of the crappiest Turkish TV shows (and trust me, that is saying something) and they do not have the slightest bit of concern about the 20 thousand Sephardim that we have here. I am pretty sure this is not the Ashkenazi intellectual superiority that I have been hearing about. So I believe Israel is deliberately trying to sabotage so that they can to ”pull the rug from underneath the feet of the Diaspora Jews”.
It doesn’t matter if it’s a good TV show or not; the whole idea of a country’s government stomping its feet and slapping around another country’s diplomatic representative over a TV show is so ludicrous that wow, it just shows how paranoid and loopy Israel’s government has become. What a group of no-class bums using mafioso tactics to intimidate and castigate an ambassador, and at the same time, they whine, cry and lose all reason for any real or imagined slight. It seems the only language they prefer to speak, as evidenced by recent events in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, is gratuitous violence.
Cynthia McKinney and Israel Shamir recently participated in a peace conference in Ankara, but I’m sure most Americans know that from the extensive coverage it received on main stream news…
In case you missed it: http://www.vnnforum.com/showthread.php?t=106130
Israel is completely, utterly crazypants.
A friend arrived by train at the Carslile railway station the day before yesterday – the 13th Jan. As he was about to board the train he had to wait a moment for the train manager to hand over a Jew, Orthodox it seems since he was all in black and wore a beard and a skulcap, to two waiting policeman. Apparently he had been very rude and nasty to a black man traveling in the same coach, so much so that the other passengers called the train manager who called ahead to have the police remove him from the train.
As he was taken into custody by the two policeman he said, in a whiny tone, “Why does the whole World hate the Jews.?” !!!
What is the point of this nasty little anti-Semitic tale?
Thank you Mary!
“Have other nations done such diplomatic humiliation tricks because of some tv-series”
The turks made a blockbuster movie, starring American actors by the by, about a plot to harvest human organs from Iraqis.
Americans were the bad guys in that movie.
lol. sad end for lieberman.