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Jewish Journal

Save the Ministry of Foreign Affairs!

by Noga Gur-Arieh

March 26, 2014 | 10:06 am

Frustrated employees strike outside of the Prime Minister's Office/ courtesy of the Facebook group "להציל את משרד החוץ" ("Save the Ministry of Foreign Affairs")

Last week, Tel Aviv University took political science students - including me - on a field trip to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Jerusalem, in order for us to examine the various possible career paths there. Since high school, it has been very clear to me that my future would be in diplomacy. I saw myself bringing Israel to the outside world, living in the beating heart of foreign affairs. I saw diplomacy as a major contribution to today’s global Village, and I still do. Only now, unfortunately, I don’t see myself as part of this world anymore.


Over the past year and a half, the employees of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs have been protesting  its lack of funding. They are currently in a feud with the Finance Ministry, which, every year, decrease its support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, relying more and more on pro-Israeli organizations to do the work for them. In the meantime, Israeli diplomats receive disgraceful salaries (one even posted his paycheck on Facebook: 6,800 NIS (about 1900 dollars) per month to an employee with an academic degree and 13 years seniority,) and suffer from lack of funding for their various activities around the world and in Israel (in May, the Ministry of Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs was downsized into a small division in the Prime Minister’s Office.) If you add in the frustration the employees feel as an outcome and their media-covered protests, you get very low demand for a diplomatic position.


This decrease in motivation to join the diplomatic field got to me during my visit. As the vast world of diplomacy opened to us, and our eyes sparkled with eagerness to start our new diplomatic lives, reality suddenly struck us: By the time we’ll get our degree, there may not be a Ministry of Foreign Affairs anymore. If our government doesn’t start realizing soon the damage it is doing by not recognizing the importance of diplomacy, the number of people who see themselves in service of the State of Israel while willing to sacrifice so much for something much bigger than themselves, will diminish fast.


Diplomacy should never be underestimated, especially in a place like Israel. Diplomats are an integral part of international affairs. They wake up in the morning with the purpose of making the world a better, more peaceful place. They help strengthen the global economic mutual dependence, which lower the chances of war; They support third world countries by sending there humanitarian delegations; They tighten relationships between nations by bringing different cultures together, and the list goes on and on.


Israeli diplomats in particular have another, very important role: they counter anti-Semitism and BDS worldwide, by exposing the phenomena and by bringing the truth about Israel to the uneducated people. They protect our country and the Jewish people by keeping an eye for lies and part –truths and acting on it, in the name of the Jewish state.


Our government fails to see the imminent role diplomats play in defending our national security. They keep directing funds to the IDF without realizing the importance of empowering the Israeli diplomacy. While it is true that in Israel security always comes first, those in higher ranks of government don’t see what political science students see: security doesn't just mean having a strong army.


It’s not too late: SAVE THE MINISTRY OF FORREIGN AFFAIRS

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