Candidly Speaking: Sack Nadav Tamir

Even if the Boston consul-general's evaluations were correct, he was operating beyond his jurisdiction.

August 12, 2009 21:04
2 minute read.

Boston Consul-General Nadav Tamir may be the most talented diplomat in the foreign ministry. He should nevertheless be dismissed forthwith, or at the very least carpeted and downgraded. Even if the policy of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was flawed, Tamir's outburst was inexcusable. A diplomat is appointed to serve the government elected by the people. If he feels that the policies he is obliged to present are so diametrically counter to his beliefs that he must publicly express his opposition, he has the choice of resigning and launching a political campaign against the government. Unfortunately Tamir acted as though he could have his cake and eat it too. The role of a diplomat includes conveying through discrete appropriate channels, evaluations of the political situation in his region. Clearly the role of a local consul general is not to distribute a memorandum providing his personal assessment of the government policies at the national level. That is the province of an ambassador (to whom Tamir should report) and he would ensure that, if appropriate, such reviews or assessments are channeled to the appropriate authority in Jerusalem. But Tamir bypassed the ambassador and distributed his memorandum to a wide list. WERE THE Foreign Ministry to become transformed into an arena in which individual diplomats are freely able to widely promote and distribute their political views or agendas, it would become totally dysfunctional. Nadav Tamir's behavior has no bearing on his political outlook or the specific issues involved. As a civil servant, he breached the ultimate red line. No Foreign Ministry or State Department in any country would tolerate such behavior. Just imagine a United States Consul, without the approval of his Ambassador, distributing a memorandum containing wide-ranging criticisms of President Barack Obama's Middle East policies, and circulating such a document throughout the State Department. He would undoubtedly be terminated. The Boston Jewish community leaders who are defending their consul general are doing everyone, including themselves, a disservice. Tamir's abilities and former track record have absolutely no bearing on this matter. What is at stake is the clear obligation of a civil servant, especially a diplomat, to recognize that his role is limited to representing his government. Tamir's irresponsibility is magnified by the fact that he is a local diplomat, a consul general; giving national evaluations is totally beyond his area of responsibility. But even if his evaluations were entirely correct he was operating beyond his jurisdiction. The call by the left-wing media to transform Tamir, an irresponsible junior diplomat into a martyr for "daring to tell the truth" is a combination of an ideological agenda and an extension of efforts to discredit Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman. There is little doubt as to how the late prime minister Yitzhak Rabin and then foreign minister Shimon Peres would have responded if a consul of Tamir's caliber had circulated such a memorandum critical of the impact of the Oslo Accords. No government would tolerate such behavior. The Foreign Ministry has regrettably, in recent years, not performed as well as one would have hoped. Today in the midst of enormously challenging times in which the war of ideas has assumed a crucial role, the Foreign Ministry cannot tolerate diplomats who breach their public service obligations and feel they are entitled to indulge in personal diplomacy and political agendas. This must apply to all governments irrespective of political orientation

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