Druse diplomat supports FM criteria on service

Says Arab gov't employees should back limiting ministry's cadet course to IDF, nat'l service veterans.

Avigdor Lieberman 248.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
Avigdor Lieberman 248.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman caused an uproar earlier this week when he suggested limiting his ministry's prestigious cadet course for new diplomats to individuals who served in the IDF or completed national service. Politicians and the press took turns condemning Lieberman and accusing him of discrimination against non-Jews. But a Druse Foreign Ministry employee endorsed Lieberman's call in a letter circulated to ministry staff on Wednesday that was obtained by The Jerusalem Post. "As someone who has served the state for 30 years, I agree with Lieberman," wrote Taher Munir, a reserve lieutenant colonel who works in the project department of the ministry's Middle East branch. "It is difficult to explain the government's policies well and convincingly, and to be concerned about its interests, without being a partner to the obligations of the citizens to the state and its population," Munir added. "This statement is not racist. It is a matter of partnership in the fate of the state and offering a modest contribution to the state's efforts to achieve a better and more serene life for its citizens." Munir wrote that national service would strengthen the relationship between the citizens and the state, especially among minorities seeking equal rights. Therefore, he said he expected all Arab government employees to endorse Lieberman's idea. Druse, unlike Arabs, traditionally serve in the IDF and volunteer for combat units in extraordinary numbers. Lieberman's spokesman Tzahi Moshe declined to respond to Munir, saying that "the letter speaks for itself." Asked if ministry staff agreed with recent calls to replace Lieberman, a Foreign Ministry official said the employees were divided. He explained that on the one hand, the staff feels marginalized because Lieberman is not taking part in the peace process or in Israel's relationship with the United States. On the other hand, he said that Lieberman had brought the ministry extra funding and approval for additional diplomatic postings. He added that Lieberman makes a point of involving ministry staff in decisions and is hard-working. The official noted that by contrast, Lieberman's predecessor Tzipi Livni, who led peace talks with the Palestinians, did not work as hard on the ministry's affairs, did not bring the ministry additional funding and did not involve ministry officials in her decision making.