Lieberman tells Israeli ambassadors to take the gloves off

Call it the nightclub bouncer (aka threatened manhood) school of diplomacy.

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, a former bouncer who now merely plays on a larger stage, summoned Israeli ambassadors to the homeland to berate them for being too soft and for not defending Israel’s honor when criticized. They must stop “groveling”, as the BBC reported:

He told a shocked audience of some 150 envoys in Jerusalem to “stop turning the other cheek” whenever Israel was insulted, Israeli media report.

The envoys were reportedly given no right of reply at the conference.

“We received a monologue without being able to hold a discussion,” one unnamed ambassador told Ha’aretz newspaper.

AFP added that he said:

“The era of grovelling is over,” he concluded. “We must be on good terms and respect the host nations, but we will not tolerate insults and challenges.”

“We will not turn the other cheek. There will be a response to everything.”

Ha’aretz later editorialized against his “bullying” and suggested he get fired. If US Ambassador Michael Oren is an example of gloves off, one has to wonder what ‘gloves on’ means. If Lieberman was actualy respected by the Israeli diplomatic corps, I’d be worried.

The latest contretemps with Turkey gives us a clue regarding the Lieberman school of diplomacy. Christian Science Monitor reports in “Why Israel humiliated Turkey in response to a TV show,” Turkey’s ambassador was summoned to a meeting at the Israeli Foreign Ministry to address , among other things, “a TV show that portrayed Israeli intelligence agents holding a woman and her baby hostage.”

Breaking with diplomatic protocol, Israeli officials failed to include the customary Turkish flag on the table between them and the Turkish ambassador, whom they seated on a low couch. To rub it in, they instructed the press members in attendance to note that they were sitting in higher chairs and the usual diplomatic niceties were conspicuously absent.

Gloves off indeed.

-Cecilie Surasky

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