Ayalon disputes Boston consul Tamir's charge

Consul Nadav Tamir argued that the government's polices were damaging US public support, but Ayalon showed figures which indicated the opposite.

Danny ayalon 248 88 (photo credit: AP)
Danny ayalon 248 88
(photo credit: AP)
Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon on Sunday used polling figures showing continued and even increasing support for Israel among Americans to counter a highly critical cable from the consul-general to Boston. Consul Nadav Tamir argued that the government's polices were damaging US public support. Tamir has been summoned for a meeting with Foreign Ministry director-general Yossi Gal to defend his widely circulated memo that was leaked to the press. Ayalon said that calling Tamir back for a meeting with Gal was not an effort to stifle criticism, but rather to take him to task for what was an unprofessional cable. The cable said that the current disagreement with the Obama administration had alienated both American Jews and the wider US public, and was causing strategic damage to Israel. But according to Ayalon, a composite of a number of key polls shows that there remains consistently strong support for Israel among the American public, and that this has even increased over the past two years. Ayalon said that not only did Tamir get the facts wrong, representing only what he was hearing in his "bubble" in Boston as reflective of wider American attitudes, but that the sheer number of people who received Tamir's cable inside the ministry all but ensured that it would be leaked. At least two dozen people had access to the cable. "If his concern was to change Israeli policy, then he should have done this confidentially, sending it to his director-general, to the director-general of the ministry, and to the minister. But circulating it widely within the ministry shows bad judgment at best, and some kind of deliberate action at worse," Ayalon said. Inside the ministry, however, there was widespread support for Tamir, amid a feeling by many that summoning him for clarification and a possible reprimand could deter others from writing critical, but honest, cables from their postings abroad. "There is a feeling of solidarity for Tamir, even if there are those who have criticism of how he wrote and distributed the cable," one official said. "Everyone can picture themselves in his shoes." The official said that the proper way to deal with the cable would have been for the director-general of the North American desk, or the director-general of the ministry himself, to telephone Tamir and say they did not agree with how he drew his conclusions, or did not think the cable should have been distributed so widely. But to summon him to Jerusalem was something done on only very rare occasions, and, the official said, left many people in the ministry now concerned about freely airing their criticism. Ayalon, however, said that anyone who regularly read the ministry's cables, or attended meetings of the ministry's directorate, knew that there was no fear inside the ministry of voicing criticism.