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The John Kerry-Bogie Ya'alon smackdown sends a dangerous message of US diplomatic amateurism

There is a disturbing trend taking place between Israel and her staunchest ally, the United States of America. Disagreements between the two nations which heretofore were expressed behind closed doors, resolved and then moved on from have managed to find their way into the mainstream media where they are discussed ad nauseam and without much background or context. Part of the problem is that the U.S. has folks managing foreign policy who have no background in diplomacy or even possess the proper temperament to be diplomats.

As a trained historian, I tend to attribute events to singular episodes. Why the U.S. has evidently lost its way in terms of diplomacy and how it acts on the international stage happened at the sudden death of the professional, highly educated and positive role model for how diplomacy should be managed, Richard Holbrooke. Susan Rice, President Obama’s National Security Advisor once gave the finger to Holbrooke and insulted him in a conference room full of people, hardly the most professional of conduct for someone in the diplomatic corps.

If the President’s effectiveness is to be judged by the team he assembles to represent, not only him and his policies, but the country as a whole, then the latest example of a serious diplomatic turmoil was the visit of Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon to the U.S. this past week. Through some unfortunate remarks Bogie Ya’alon made regarding John Kerry’s efforts at forging a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, General Ya’alon was practically ostracized by his American counterparts while on his trip.

His remarks were prompted by comments John Kerry made at Israel’s expense during the 50-day way with Hamas. His “hot mike” comments questioning Israel’s military actions were uncalled for meddling and very unprofessional and a former senator and member of the Armed Services Committee in the Senate should have known better. He barely apologized when caught making his comments which inflamed the situation with Ya’alon. The tit-for-tat actions then moved onto a controversy over releasing previously requested American munitions to restock what was used during the war. The Americans, under Barack Obama, have become a perilously petty group of politicians in a realm where politics simply has no place.

The danger of letting amateur diplomats at the U.S. State Department control content and message is visceral. It lets our common enemies know that there are chinks in our collective armor. Terror groups see this and react with glee and with renewed attacks. And why not? Disagreements show weakness to the Arab mind and they will try to capitalize on this weakness. The Daesh (ISIS) already has.

When there are policy disagreements between nations, this should never be done in a public forum. When there are personality clashes, such as those often reported between Obama and Netanyahu, it colors the strong cooperation between the nations and makes our security the victim of petty partisan politics. It becomes personal, which should never be the case in international relations.

About the Author
Rachel Grenadier was an olah from the Commonwealth of Virginia in 2003 who returned to the United States in 2015. She really wanted to stay in Israel, but decided that having family members nearby was better for her health than a bunch of devoted, but crazed, Israeli friends who kept telling her hummous would cure her terminal heart condition. She has her B.A. and M.A. from George Mason University in Virginia and is the author of two books: the autobiographical "Israeli Men and Other Disasters" and "Kishon: The Story of Israel's Naval Commandoes and their Fight for Justice". She is now living in Virginia with her three Israeli psychologically-challenged cats and yet, denies being a "hoarder".
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