US ConGen Jerusalem Sued by Former LES

Consulate General USA_1404Image by hoyasmeg via Flickr

The Jerusalem Post has a piece about a lawsuit filed by a locally hired employee (LES) against the US Consulate General in Jerusalem (Jan 9, 2010 22:53). Quick excerpt below:

Alleged terror ties are at the heart of a lawsuit the US Consulate in Jerusalem is fighting; it is being sued for NIS 250,000 by a former employee who the consulate discovered had ties with Hamas.
The plaintiff is Azam Qiq, who worked at the diplomatic mission until 2006 as a mechanic. His father was Hassan Qiq, the former head of Hamas in Jerusalem, who died in 2006.
Azam Qiq was hired by the consulate in 2003 and underwent a background check by its security teams. According to court documents obtained by The Jerusalem Post, during his hiring interview, Qiq said he had never been arrested or interrogated by the Israeli police.
For the next three years, Qiq worked in the consulate motor pool and was a good employee. He even received two awards from then counsel-general Jacob Walles for his exemplary service.
Qiq was fired by the consulate in September 2006.
In 2007, he filed a lawsuit against the consulate and the US government for unlawful dismissal and demanded close to NIS 250,000 in compensation. He claimed that his dismissal was not done in accordance with law, and that he did not receive severance pay.

The consulate, in its response, claimed that it had no choice but to fire Qiq. “We cannot exaggerate in emphasizing the sensitivity of having access to the consulate’s motor pool, which doesn’t just service consulate workers but also serves VIPs who come frequently to Jerusalem on official US government business,” read the response filed with the court.

Read the whole thing here.

The ‘Hillary Effect’ on Ambassadorships to the U.S.

Official portrait of Secretary of State Hillar...Image via Wikipedia

Mary Jordan writes ‘Hillary effect’ cited for increase in female ambassadors to U.S. for WaPo (January 11, 2010):

Quotable quotes from the article:
“Even when I say I am ambassador, people assume I am the spouse.”
Meera Shankar, Indian Ambassador to the US  
(India’s first female ambassador in more than 50 years)
“It’s a disadvantage that I am here by myself […] but that means I can work late and not feel guilty.”
Houda Ezra Ebrahim Nonoo
Ambassador from Bahrain since 2008
Hillary Clinton is so visible” as secretary of state […] she makes it easier for presidents to pick a woman for Washington.”
Amelia Matos Sumbana
Ambassador from Mozambique.
It’s considered normal if a woman goes with her husband but it’s not seen as the same if a husband goes.”
Angele Niyuhire
Ambassador from Burundi
Jordan writes that Ambassadors’ wives have historically played a huge role in entertaining — a key part of an envoy’s job — so that duty falls to the female ambassadors. “We need a wife, too!” several remarked.
Other tidbits from the article that you might find interesting:  
  • “There are 25 female ambassadors posted in Washington — the highest number ever, according to the State Department.”
  • “Eleven of the 25 female envoys in Washington are from Africa. Four are from Caribbean nations. The others are from Bahrain, the Netherlands, Croatia, Kyrgyzstan, Singapore, Oman, Colombia, India, Liechtenstein and Nauru, an eight-square-mile Pacific island with only 14,000 people.”
  • “Women remain a distinct minority — there are 182 accredited ambassadors in Washington — but their rise from a cadre of five in the late 1990s to five times that is opening up what had been an elite’s men club for more than a century.”
  • “While male ambassadors are usually accompanied by wives, female ambassadors are often here alone. Of eight interviewed, four are divorced and four said their husbands did not accompany them to Washington because of their own jobs.”
  • “More than half of new recruits for the U.S. Foreign Service and 30 percent of the chiefs of mission are now women, according to the State Department. That is a seismic shift from the days, as late as the 1970s, when women in the Foreign Service had to quit when they married, a rule that did not apply to men.”
Read the whole thing here.
More than half of the new recruits in the Foreign Service are women.  That may not be a great conundrum for the FS now, but before too long it will be. 
What would they do with the husbands?

US Amb to the Philippines Kristie Kenney Blogs Farewell

Photo from US Embassy Manila

The US Ambassador to the Philippines, Kristie Kenney posted her “Farewell” on her blog on January 5. She departs the Philippines this month.  Her successor, former DG Ambassador Harry Thomas has yet to be confirmed by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.  Quick excerpt below: 

My memories of the past four years are as diverse as the Philippines themselves. I will never forget the rich cultures of Mindanao or the proud traditions of the Ifugao. I have loved the smiling face of every child our education programs have helped. The look of joy and wonder as they experience the Internet for the first time is unforgettable. Or the dedication of the teachers who serve from small rural schools to large Manila universities. (Sorry if my readers have wearied of me talking about education, but I am still the daughter and granddaughter of public school teachers. I always love helping education and those who teach.) In the Philippines, I have seen the wonders of the oceans and become dedicated to helping protect our environment. I’ve snorkeled with whale sharks, been diving in aquariums, tested jeepney emissions, talked to fishermen about sustainable fishing, seen our Peace Corp volunteers energize communities to create marine protected areas, and watched our USAID team design great programs with Philippine partners to promote clean energy and clean waters.
This will be my last blog post as the United States Ambassador to the Philippines. I thank all who were kind enough to read and comment on my blog. It has been a privilege to represent the United States in the Philippines. I thank Filipinos throughout the world for the kindness and friendship you have shared with me and so many other Americans. And I hope our paths will cross again. Let me close with an old Irish blessing that has always been a favorite of my Irish-American family:
May the road rise up to meet you
May the wind be always at your back
May the sun shine warm upon your face
May the rain fall soft upon your fields
And until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of his hand.
Filipinos from all walks of life are still writing back to thank her, to wish her well, ask that she extend her tour, or send an invitation that she return to the Philippines for a visit.  Read some notes below: 

Dario O. A.| Location: Manila
I feel so grateful to have you as the US Ambassador to the Philippines. But I am more thankful that through you, we have seen the wonders of our country when most of us Filipinos have not noticed of. We have taken for granted our great grandfathers who have fought hand in hand with the Americans during the World War II. […]We have not seen our talented Artists who hold our flag whenever they are performing abroad, instead we are so pessimistic that someday they will just leave our country and stay abroad for good. It is an eye-opening to all of us Filipinos, that indeed, there is still greatness in our country amidst all negative news and dirty politics that surrounds us. But somehow, we will need people to remind us from time to time of such greatness. People like you!
Ruben S. Valenton Jr.
You redefined ambassadorship with a personal and human touch. You’ve been to different provinces, towns, villages…sharing goods, time, listening to the folks and youth.
Noel Bernardo | Location: Manila Philippines
New wikipedia definition of the word AMBASSADOR:
AMBASSADOR = Kristie A. Kenney
Agnes Mercado
my name is mrs. agnes m. mercado, a 60 yr old grandma of 5 and counting, resides at 1306 artemis st. phase 6, v villa olympia, san pedro, laguna, phils. i would like to bid you farewell, madame ambassador KRISTIE KENNEYand thank you for all the kindness and sincere love and concern, humane touch to all the filipinos.
Blogie Robillo
People in Mindanao say, “Kristie loves Mindanao,” and people in the Visayas and Luzon say the same thing about you and their own places. This is a testament to your dedication, sincerity and passion.
Sylvester | Location: Davao
…you are the coolest U.S. ambassador ever!

Kahlil | Location: Makati City
I am one of your regular readers and blog fan. Thank you for the dedicated service and commitment to further strenghten the US-Phil relations.
Mons Romulo Tantoco | Location: Pasig City, Philippines
Our profound thanks for all the kindness you have shown my family and our countrymen.
Nonoy Seneres | Location: Mindanao, Philippines
Thank you, Ambassador Kenney, for your constantly hands-on approach to doing everything and anything in the truly heartwarming way you expeditiously marshalled the USA’s available resources to assist those of us Filipinos who urgently needed food and other necessities in the aftermath of countless natural disasters such as Typhoon Ondoy.
Jose Corpus | Location: Chino Hills, CA.
Thank you so much for your kind service to both of my home countries… The US sent their very best representative and you will be missed. […]I hope the next appointed ambassador to the Philippines will be up to the task and continue the progress and unique relationship our two countries share.
Dindo Guevara | Location: Synergeia Foundation, Makati City
I remember the time when you read stories for school children in Jolo. You were also there during the distribution of books for the teachers of Sulu . You also inaugurated our school building in Paglat, Maguindanao. Let me also tell you that you have changed the lives of many of our out of school youths. I am also humbled every time I see you taking the economy class section of PAL when you go to Mindanao.
Rey Flores | Location: makati city
Never had the opportunity to meet you personally but I have always felt you are an all-time “best adopted american daughter” of the Philippines
Her fans are not limited to regular street folks.  On January 6, the Armed Forces of the Philippines presented Ambassador Kenney with a plaque expressing the AFP’s appreciation of the Ambassador’s contribution to U.S.-Philippines military cooperation. They also gave honored her with a testimonial parade at Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City. 
Here is an excerpt from the Philippine Daily Inquirer’s coverage of the event (AFP holds parade in honor of exiting US ambassador | January 06, 2010):
From feeding poor schoolchildren across the country, meeting with Moro rebels to dancing the “Papaya” song on a popular television game show, outgoing US Ambassador Kristie Kenney has transformed the art of diplomacy, Gen. Victor Ibrado, chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philipines, said on Wednesday.
The military paid tribute, on Wednesday, to the departing first American woman ambassador to the country with a testimonial parade traditionally held in honor of a retiring officer or a head of state and rarely held for diplomats.
“Nobody in this country, not even the MILF or the communist rebels, will contest the now common knowledge that Ambassador Kenney is the most popular and best-liked ambassador, American or otherwise, in Philippine history,” said Ibrado in a speech during the ceremonies.
Ibrado said Kenney managed to “soften the rough edges” of the RP-US relationship through humanitarian support and hastened the implementation of bilateral programs in the country by reaching out more to the Filipinos.
“Diplomacy never envisioned a hands-on approach… …(S)ome bilateral undertakings fail, international relations sometimes go sour … people don’t support their government’s program with a foreign state. But that changed with Ambassador Kenney,” he said.
Ambassador Kenney is one of our few ambassadors who has immersed herself in new media – she blogs, tweets (2,000 fans), and is on Facebook. The US Embassy in Manila similarly is on Facebook, Flickr, Twitter and YouTube. But she obviously is the face of the US Embassy in the Philippines; and by using the new media tools she gave her office accessibility and as one fan puts it “a personal and human touch.”  Whereas in the past, only the well-connected may have accessed to the US ambassador, the new media made it possible for regular folks to feel connected as if they personally know the individual.             

She’ll be a tough act to follow not only because she has done gigs like Kristie Kenney does Papaya Dance | 2008 or U.S Ambassador Kenney at Wowowee | 2008, but because she always look as if she was enjoying herself whether she was visiting a school, tending to a ship visit, or traveling in the provinces.  The stint she did at Wowowee in 2008, the leading noontime variety show in the Philippines probably reached more people than any PAS material could ever do. (She has also done her farewell at Wowowee but we have yet to find a clip of that visit).         
But the real reason she’ll be a tough act to follow — the host country has fallen in love with her! I would not be surprised if a crowd turns up to send her off at the airport.    

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Quickie: Obama, Diplomat-in-Chief

Kenneth Weisbrode, author of the The Atlantic Century: Four Generations of Extraordinary Diplomats who Forged America’s Vital Alliance with Europe (Da Capo, Nov. 2009) has a new piece in the History News Network (Obama, Diplomat-in-Chief | 1-11-10). Excerpt below: 

[…] The consensus seems to be that Barack Obama and his team have achieved something important, namely a “reset” of America’s international image, but have done less than what they promised. However premature it may be to reach such a verdict, Obama’s actions strike some as overly tentative, even ambivalent—the implication being that he is still learning on the job.

He probably is, as should even the most experienced chief executive. Issuing annual report cards on his handling of foreign policy, issue by issue, may overlook this point, as well as three others: American presidents are rarely able to get all they want; Obama hardly assumed office with a clean slate; and America’s relationship with the rest of the world amounts to much more than the decisions and actions of a single American president, especially after one year.

Moreover, both Obama and his Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton, have spoken often of the long term and, to repeat a Washington cliché, of keeping their focus on the important as well as the urgent. But just what is the “long term”? And how does a president focus upon it while also dealing with the massive daily workload, not to mention a 24-hour news cycle?
The global America that Obama personifies is very much a work in progress. Its relations with the world need as much order as its relations in the world need broadmindedness. Obama has done much so far to change the tone of the latter. One can only hope that he will succeed with respect to the former as he pursues what looks to be a rather pragmatic foreign policy of continuous adjustment. But 2010 is likely to force his and America’s hand; and the thoughtful, deliberate executive may come to find greater use for the inspirational mover of the masses who so dominated the headlines little more than a year ago.
It is an interesting read.  See the whole thing here.