MKs will learn some manners to avoid blunders abroad

Foreign Ministry to teach Knesset members rules of etiquette when conducting meetings with foreign counterparts.

By GIL STERN STERN HOFFMAN
October 28, 2010 03:21
1 minute read.
US Deputy Secretary of State James B. Steinberg wi

steinberg ayalon shake hands 311. (photo credit: Matty Stern/U.S. Embassy Tel-Aviv)

 
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Members of Knesset are known around the world for their lack of decorum in parliament sessions. But soon, thanks to Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon, they will be receiving a lesson in how to behave properly when abroad.

In a meeting of the Knesset House committee on Tuesday, Ayalon offered the MKs a special course conducted by Foreign Ministry officials that will teach them the etiquette and manners appropriate for diplomats.

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“Knesset members are an important resource in the effort to explain Israel abroad and they can be used by our embassies abroad to help improve the country’s image,” Ayalon said.

During the courses, the MKs will study diplomatic protocol, how to dress, how to behave at ceremonial meals and when to present their business cards, as well as receiving tips in English and other languages and learning the sensitivities of particular countries.

For instance, they will be told not to hug or kiss their hosts in India, not to put their hands in their pockets in Mexico, and not to give watches to their hosts in China – because for the Chinese, the tick-tock symbolizes how long they have to live.

They will also learn how to use chopsticks and will be told not to cross them on their plates in Japan, because the Japanese consider an X to be a symbol of death.

House Committee chairman Yariv Levin (Likud) said such courses are standard for members of parliaments around the world. He said MKs have come to him complaining that they were not trained properly ahead of important diplomatic trips abroad.



“MKs have many meetings with foreign officials, so they must represent the country in the proper manner,” Levin said. “The MKs’ professionalism can determine the success of their meetings, as well as how their counterparts will view Israel for years to come.”

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