A few years ago, at a side event in Italy, the French ambassador spoke about Italy's refugee policy. Speak out against? Supporting? Almost do not remember. In ten minutes, less than the time it takes to cook ravioli, relations between the two countries were on the verge of exploding, and an enraged Italy began promoting the closure of its embassy in France and flying the ambassador from its territory – no matter how sideways the event he was talking about. France, by the way, apologized.
In another case, the U.S. ambassador to Germany met with members of a German civil society organization. Legitimate matter. The thing is that during the meeting, the ambassador spoke in praise of the companies and civil associations, left or right, and their contribution to local democracy. A neutral and boring statement. Even then, a side headline on a German news portal some 20 minutes later was enough to rally angry German parliamentarians to kick out the ambassador of the world's strongest power, right? - Directly home.
Just as no one had any doubt that Germany had much more to lose, by the same token, the entire diplomatic world, without exception, knew what would happen next: the large and powerful United States was quick to apologize and praise the ambassador.
In Italy, as well as in Germany and in almost every democratic country in the world, there is an unwritten law that is followed all over the world: diplomacy is a delicate business with a clear border. A state that establishes friendly relations with another state does not interfere in its internal affairs. On no subject.
This is not a Watergate-level exposé. Just as there is no law prohibiting loud grapes at the wedding to which you were invited, or checking stand-up comedy materials during the funeral of a family of friends, there is no law in the world that prohibits foreign interference in the internal affairs of friendly countries. You are a guest - behave accordingly. You don't need a law for something so clear and universal all over the world.
All over the world? Almost, of course. If we continue the parable, Israel is the only place where guests enter the living room without knocking on the door, throw their shoes into one corner and socks into the sink, open a button, sit in front of the TV with their foot on the table and express concern about how you designed the panels. Sounds like an exaggerated metaphor? She's not even close.
Years of unimaginable lawlessness have turned Israel into a nuclear power according to foreign publications, etc., yes? - A playground for every ambassador and diplomat who does as he pleases, from "expressing concern" to physical and encouraging participation with post-Zionist and radical NGOs. Thus, while a delusional organization like Breaking the Silence is being expelled in disgrace from almost everywhere in Israel, it finds comfort (and headlines) in foreign diplomats.
This is a deep problem of policy, practices, and diplomatic culture led by the Foreign Ministry, but occasionally the legislature tries to provide an ad hoc response to it. The last attempt to put this kind of Band-Aid on it came in the form of the NGO Law, put forward by MK Ariel Kellner of the Likud. The law is intended to limit the influence of foreign government money on what happens in Israel by transferring funding to local NGOs, but paradoxically, it only increases them. Many of them make their living from a concept called shrinking civil space, or for short - "Look at this fascist state, trying to restrict law-abiding civil activists." This is exactly the fuel on which the foreign intervention engine operates.
This law and the need for it would become redundant if the State of Israel were to shake off the dust and start using the enormous toolbox it has. For example, inviting ambassadors to reprimand and stipulating cooperation of one kind or another, things that countries large and small from Israel dare to do when someone enters their living room and forgets who owns the house. Until the Foreign Ministry does this, we will continue to be Europe's joke.
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