Amateur hour

To handle the Iranian threat effectively, Israel needs competent, experienced diplomats, not Israel Beiteinu politicians.

danny ayalon 88 (photo credit: )
danny ayalon 88
(photo credit: )
Many are still wondering about the root causes of the recentspat between and . On the Turkish side, Prime MinisterRecep Tayyip Erdogan's disrespectful behavior toward President Shimon Peres atlast year's Davos conference played a significant role in the commencement ofthe recent quarrel. During a heated discussion, on a public stage, Erdoganstormed off because he didn't like Peres's response to his provocativestatements regarding 'sactions in .
In Turkish and Israeli culture - in fact in almost every culture - this isplainly rude. Some  would even consider it humiliating, as it conveys themessage that "you are not worth speaking to."
On the Turkish side, the situation was made worst by a number of TV programswhich portrayed IDF soldiers as nothing more than child murderers. Had made similar inaccurate andsensationalized programs about 'streatment of Kurds or Armenians, the reaction from would have been as strong,if not worse.
The State of Israel had every right to protest 's recent actions, and itcould have done so effectively. Unfortunately this was not the case. TheForeign Ministry is staffed by many brilliant qualified professionals. However,it is currently headed by politicians in the form of Israel Beiteinu's AvigdorLieberman and Danny Ayalon, who, judging by their recent actions, know verylittle about diplomacy.
After the recent provocations from ,instead of conveying 'sconcerns and protestations professionally and effectively, Ayalon decided totry to humiliate the Turkish ambassador by seating him on a lower chair duringtheir meeting and by not having the Turkish flag displayed on the table. Oncethe Israeli press exposed the affair, Ayalon decided to apologize. His apologywas timely, but by that stage it basically meant that , whichwas the victim of offensive Turkish behavior, now had to apologize as well.
ISRAELI TAXPAYERS,
who pay Ayalon's salary, would be forgiven for hoping that this is the end ofsuch incompetent behavior by the deputy foreign minister. They may bedisappointed to know that, in fact, more of the same theatrics may soon follow. Why? Because people who work with Ayalon are in fact proud of his behavior.In a recent interview with The Post, a source close to Ayalon stated that " willbenefit from the way in which Ayalon managed the crisis."
To err is human, says the famous proverb. Ayalon erred once. The people whowork with him could have advised him to act otherwise, but it seems they wereunsuccessful or simply did not know any better.
However, if after the enormous damage caused by the deputy foreign minister tothe diplomatic standing of this country, his advisers are still feeblemindedenough to say that his actions are going to benefit the state, it shows thatthis issue has still not been understood properly by Ayalon's team. Or thatthey simply don't care about the damage they have caused.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu must address this level of professionaldeficiency shown by Israel Beiteinu in the Foreign Ministry. With the issue of becoming even more sensitive, needscompetent hands at its diplomatic wheels. Every statement could impact 'sregional and international position and leverage, both positively andnegatively.
With the regime of Ali Khamenei becoming weaker every day at home, he willincreasingly be looking outside his borders for ways to strengthen hisgovernment's standing. Just as 'sHafez Assad used his influence in as a pillar to maintain his regime, Khamenei will now be relying more on 'sinfluence in the region to shore up his position. This could include the use ofHizbullah hitmen to attack protesters in ,and the use of Hamas, Hizbullah and to create instability around 'sborders. This is in addition to Khamenei's so far successful plans to forge aclose alliance with .
The supreme leader's ultimate goal is to diplomatically outmaneuver and isolate.This means that needs its diplomats to be as competent as its soldiers who defend its borders.Just as Netanyahu takes 'ssecurity and defense seriously, he must pay similar attention to this country'sdiplomatic capabilities.
The recent episode with the Turkish ambassador has made into a laughing stock around the world,including among 'sintellectual elite, a majority of whom oppose Khamenei. Failure to address 's diplomatic failures may mean that 's supremeleader, despite his country's military inferiority, may actually win thediplomatic battle.

The writer is an Iranian-Israeli analyst and the coauthor of
The Nuclear Sphinx of Teheran: MahmoudAhmadinejad and the State of Iran.