Israel is a Trip (2)

Part 2 – Part 1

Just a few days away from boarding an El AL 777 to Tel Aviv, I got an email saying that our government sponsored friendship trip has been delayed because Israel’s foreign ministry is in the middle of  a salary dispute.  Foreign service diplomats miffed over being paid much less than Mossad, IDF and other government agencies are showing up at work in jeans, sneakers, and T-shirts that say on them , “I’m a poor diplomat.”

The first thing I thought of was whether those shirts come in extra large because Manouchehr Mottaki could really use one.  The second thought my IRI habituated mind went to was why those in power in Israel hadn’t publicly labeled their own diplomatic staff as  monafeghin and accused foreign enemies of pulling their strings. The fact that the salary of Israel’s diplomatic staff has eroded by more than 40%  in 17 years does not explain the current problem as well as foreign conspiracy theories. It should be obvious to Israel’s leaders that the Islamist Entity manufactures Israel’s labor issues by paying that country’s workers millions of Dollars to say they are not paid enough.

Not to make too light of the issue, I expect the dispute to create great inconveniences. The diplomats at the foreign ministry have hit the Israeli government with the following sanctions:

1. No one will be permitted access to the ministry who is not a ministry employee and there will be no meeting with any outsider in the building.

2. All services and contact with other governmental ministries, including the Prime Minister’s office, Shin Bet (Israeli Security Agency), Mossad, Defense Ministry, IDF, police, Knesset, and local authorities will be stopped.

The list goes on. I was tempted to recommend finding an Iranian-Israeli on the staff; certainly with some parti baazi at least our trip could be accommodated. But the Israelis are going to have to find out for themselves how the world really works.

This isn’t the first time Israel’s diplomats have sanctioned their own government. Last August when Benjamin Netanyahu was in Washington to negotiate with the Palestinians, the foreign ministry’s worker’s committee instructed its Washington staff not to assist him. The only reason he got anything done (or not done) was because the US had organized the affair and the White House took care of most of the logistics. As far as I know, nobody was fired or put in jail. But since there were no film directors of Jafar Panahi’s stature among the rebellious staff, an IRI comparison would be unfair to make.

Nor is this the rare labor dispute in that nation.  Israel’s’ workers don’t seem to take any guff from their employers. Netanyahu is dealing with a state prosecutor’s strike even as I write. In 2006, Israel Electric employees cut off the management from their computers, telephones, and electricity. I had promised myself to stay a neutral observer while in Israel, but the leftist in me finds it hard not to cheer those Israeli workers who have valuable pointers for the sheepish American labor unions.

Yet, one has also to consider the management point of view to make a fair judgment. An Israeli diplomat named “Y” who is quitting his US post to go back to Israel makes $4800 a month. His wife brings in $1900 a month in the US.  So it doesn’t seem so bad, until you find out he pays $1300 a month for the kids’ school, is expected to work around the clock, travel expenses are not reimbursed, has a mortgage in Israel, and takes the metro to go meet with President Obama.

Tough negotiations appear to be a way of life in Israel. Once the trip is back on track I should negotiate for a hotel with a great view.

To be continued

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