Last week, an internal memorandum written by Boston-based Israeli consul general Nadav Tamir was leaked to the Israeli press, causing a media “firestorm” in Israel. In the memo, Tamir writes that the US-Israeli relationship is suffering as a result of Israeli hostility towards President Obama’s efforts to bring the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to an end:
During a visit to Israel, I became more aware that we have a damaging misunderstanding regarding the intentions and policies of the American administration. I must note that even if I am wrong in my assessment of the American administration, the way in which we manage our relations nowadays is causing strategic damage to two very important aspects that make up our special relationship and they are the level of intimacy in coordinating policies, and the support of US public opinion towards Israel. [...]
In many American circles, there is a feeling these days, that while the Obama administration tries to resolve global conflicts, it must deal with the refusal to cooperate by governments in Iran, North Korea, and Israel. Aaron Miller’s words, spoken after the Obama-Netanyahu meeting, clearly show this feeling. He said it was a meeting between Obama yes we can and Netanyahu no you won’t. [...]
There are, of course, players in American and Israeli politics who oppose Obama ideologically and are willing to sacrifice the special relationship between the countries to further their own political agenda, but we cannot let these players damage the bipartisan attitude that rightly characterized the conduct of Israeli governments toward the US.
As a result of his memorandum, Tamir was recalled back to Israel and Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman angrily told the press that “if someone is not happy and can’t live with government policy, the way is not to criticize and leak but to resign.” Some in the conservative community in Boston have sympathy for Lieberman’s position. Tom Mountain, a right-wing columnist for the Jewish Advocate, wrote in response to the controversy, “The bottom line is that the Obama government has been hostile to the Israeli government from the beginning. … Tamir is writing as an apologist for the Obama administration.’’
Yet many in the Jewish community around Boston have come to Tamir’s aid. Jonathan Sarna, a Jewish historian at Brandeis University, told the press that Tamir has “been seen as the most effective [consul] that anyone can remember.” And Michael Ross, the President of the Boston City Council and a son of Holocaust survivors, called Tamir a “dedicated advocate for Israel.”
Meanwhile, the Boston Globe defended Tamir in an editorial titled “Called out for telling the truth” today. The Globe writes, “Tamir was acting well within the rules of his position…when he offered his government some frank advice about how Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s policies are alienating some Americans. Monitoring local opinion is part of what consuls do, and Tamir shouldn’t be punished for doing his job.”