The American Interest
Analysis by Walter Russell Mead & Staff
World’s Most Undiplomatic Diplomat Steps Aside

Israel’s controversial foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman is stepping down from the cabinet and asking the Israeli parliament (the Knesset) to suspend his parliamentary immunity so that charges against him can be examined in court. Via Meadia has no view on the charges against Mr. Lieberman; we note that a lot of Israeli politicians get in trouble with various Israeli laws and we wonder sometimes whether this is because the laws are too strict, the prosecutors too zealous or the politicians too lax. Perhaps it is a mix.

So we don’t know the facts of Mr. Lieberman’s case and will happily leave all those matters to the Israeli justice system. But we’d like to offer one small suggestion to Israelis thinking about who might replace him in the next government (for now, Prime Minister Netanyahu will handle the portfolio): try finding a Jacob next time.

Many Israelis are so frustrated by the sea of criticism and worse surrounding their country that they welcome a brusque, in your face foreign minister who will tell all those no-good anti-Israel foreigners some harsh home truths that they need to hear. But from where we sit at Via Meadia, it seems that Israel would be better served by less of an Esau and more of a Jacob at the top of its diplomatic service. “My brother Esau is a hairy man,” Jacob says to his mother in the Book of Genesis, “but I am a smooth man.” Smooth diplomats will help Israel more than rough and hairy ones right now; Israel has a case to make and it needs diplomats who can do that.

Published on December 15, 2012 10:15 am