The drama surrounding the memo critical of the government's policies circulated by Israel's consul-general in Boston, Nadav Tamir, came to an anticlimactic end in Foreign Ministry director-general Yossi Gal's office on Thursday, when Tamir was rapped on the knuckles, said he was saddened by the leak, and then sent back to Boston.
Tamir, in a widely distributed internal cable last week leaked to the press, wrote that the current friction in the US-Israeli relationship was eroding Israel's public support among the American public, and harming Israel's strategic ties with the US.
Tamir, whom Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman summoned back to Jerusalem for "clarifications" with Gal, was told in the meeting that he committed an error in judgment in the way he distributed the memo.
Perhaps to put to rest fears inside the ministry that the summons of Tamir was a sign that ministry officials must "tow the party line" and not write anything critical in their memos, Gal did not take Tamir to task for the memo's content, but rather for the way it was sent back to the Foreign Ministry, and by the number of people who received it, all but assuming that it would be leaked out.
According to a statement issued by the Foreign Ministry, Tamir told Gal he accepted the criticism, and that he was sorry the cable was leaked to the press. He said he did not intend for the three-page memo to go beyond the normal communications he had with his superiors in the ministry on a regular basis.
According to the statement, Tamir said he accepted the principle that someone in an official public position cannot publicly criticize the government.
Lieberman said at a widely publicized meeting of the Foreign Ministry's directorate on Monday that if a government official cannot live with the policies of the government he serves, he should resign, not "slander the government." Gal told Tamir that Lieberman also made clear at that meeting that he expected every employee to pass their various memos and assessments on to those in charge of them through the accepted channels.
A worker who wants to share his feelings can at any time turn to his superior, the director-general or the minister, and get a reply, Gal said.
Tamir is expected to return to Boston at the beginning of next week.
The episode was the talk of the ministry throughout the week, with most employees backing Tamir, and criticizing Lieberman for what a number said seemed an attempt at stifling criticism. At the same time, a number of employees did question the conclusions in Tamir's memo, the way he wrote it, and the manner in which it was sent out.