Stalinism at the Foreign Ministry?

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Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has a penchant for rubbing against the grain of Israelis with some of his more abrasive statements.

Today’s Jerusalem Post contains an item in which an unnamed Foreign Ministry official accuses Liebermann of trying to initiate a “Stalinist” regime inside the ministry in order to strike fear in the hearts of ministry workers. This came after Lieberman approved the suspension of a senior official accused of having leaked information to the media.

The incident exemplifies the problem prevailing within the Foreign Ministry and other civil service divisions in Israel where too often officials have become so full of themselves that they seem to have lost the plot.

They do not seem to appreciate that if one of them leaks restricted information to the media or any outsider, such a person is committing the ultimate breach of responsibility and ethics in his capacity as a civil servant. Such a person should be terminated not suspended.

It is only in the insane climate of Israeli politics that completely appropriate disciplinary action against such irresponsible behavior is referred to as “Stalinist”.

The diplomat involved, Alon Bar, who Lieberman had previously described as “one of our brilliant diplomats”, previously served as former Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni’s diplomatic advisor.

There is a need to institute a compulsory seminar for all civil servants to undergo prior to taking up civil service posts. The course should explain to them in black-and-white terms that the role of a civil servant is to serve his minister and not to usurp the role of an active politician. The Foreign Ministry, more than any other department, should be made conscious of this.

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