Israeli Diplomats on Strike, Suspend Diplomatic and Consular Operations Worldwide

— Domani Spero

Britain’s David Cameron is visiting Israel and is expected to address the Knesset on Wednesday, March 12.  The host country’s Foreign Service, has been on strike since March 3rd, and Israel’s Foreign Service Workers’ Association has reportedly stated that staff would not co-operate or assist with preparations for Mr. Cameron’s visit.

The British embassy in Tel Aviv said: “We have an enormous respect for the work of our colleagues at the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and we are grateful to them for their close collaboration with us. “The visit of Prime Minister Cameron will be a proud moment for both countries, and we regret the MFA were unable to participate in its organisation on this occasion.”

Israel’s Foreign Service Workers’ Association released the following statement about the strike:

As of Tuesday, 3rd March 2014, Israel’s diplomats will no longer engage with foreign representatives, take care of official visits of any kind, either in Israel or overseas, issue visas or provide any consular services. This is just part of an extended list of organizational measures which will take effect immediately.

Israel’s diplomatic corps was left with no other choice but to ratchet up its year-long labor dispute with the Ministry of Finance, after the latter caused the failure of a seven-month mediation process led by the former Chief Justice of the Labor Court.

The diplomats were willing to give a real chance to the mediation process and find pragmatic solutions to all outstanding issues; however, the finance bureaucrats lacked sincerity and did not reciprocate with the same approach.

The bold measures mentioned above will hopefully raise awareness, both domestically and internationally, of the dire situation of Israel’s hard working diplomats.

Why have the Israeli diplomats decided to take these measures?

It may seem unusual for the diplomatic service of a country to become engaged in such a difficult labor dispute. This is especially true in relation to Israel’s diplomats, who are well known around the globe for their commitment and their excellent ability to represent Israel with the many different challenges it faces.

Precisely because of their deep commitment to Israel’s international standing and national security, Israel’s diplomats insist that their reasonable demands be met. Among them are a long-overdue adjustment of the salary to the rise in the cost of living, an end to a discriminatory tax policy, consideration of the dear price paid by “trailing” spouses and children in terms of loss of income, career and pension, and a decent compensation for extra hours.

It is unfortunate that the same dedicated civil servants, who receive praise wherever they are stationed in the world as representatives of Israel, are met with nothing but scorn by the Finance Ministry bureaucrats, who know little about the importance of diplomacy to national security. This is true always, but more so in a country like Israel, which is faced with an unparalleled range of challenges in the international arena.

The Times of Israel reports that “no diplomatic passports are being issued and “no assistance whatsoever” is being granted to Israeli officials abroad.”  All consular services to Israeli citizens have reportedly been suspended with exceptions made in cases where lives are in danger or bodies need to be returned to Israel for burial.

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State Dept Wants To Protect Labor Rights in the Global Market Place – Smart Power in Action, Really …

— By Domani Spero

 

To mark Labor Day, Barbara Shailor, the State Department’s Special Representative for International Labor Affairs blogged on September 2 over at DipNote about “Protecting Labor Rights in the Global Market Place.”  We also marked labor day with a blog post on the State Department’s refusal to talk about granting labor rights to its local embassy employees worldwide (see State Dept on Embassy Workers Unionization: Yo! Could Put U.S. National Security at Risk).

We should admit upfront that Ms. Sailor’s blog post is definitely the most worthwhile read of the two.  After all, who can argue against “protecting the dignity of workers everywhere” as “the right investment?” Or fault the “history of the labor movement in the United States — and of workers everywhere — [… ] the story of courageous men and women who persevered and risked their lives to bring dignity to their work?”  This American value is a laudable export to the  global market place. Last year, Ms. Shailor also had a labor day message for everyone.

This year, we again applaud the State Department’s commitment  “to doing everything we can to advance labor rights in the global economy.” We are republishing Ms. Shailor’s blog post in full in appreciation of smart-power pretense affectation.

For over a century, we’ve set aside a day to honor the contributions of workers. The cookouts, shopping sales, and parades are end of summer American rituals.  But the significance of Labor Day — advocating for the dignity of work — is, and always will be an American value.

Promoting labor rights and improving working conditions is a smart economic investment — essential to driving growth, ensuring its benefits are broadly shared, and delivering decent jobs for the American people.

Protecting the dignity of workers everywhere is also the right investment.  The goal is to create not just more growth, but better growth.  That means ensuring all workers enjoy certain universal labor rights, including the freedom to associate and effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining, and prohibitions against the worst forms of child labor and forced labor, and employment discrimination.

Much of the world is still experiencing high unemployment, a lack of opportunities for youths, discrimination towards women, disabled persons, and LGBT individuals, and the growth of disenfranchised migrant workers and refugees.  This exacerbates already volatile situations in many countries.

By combating the root causes of poverty and helping countries provide a prospect for decent work we can better hope to achieve our foreign policy goals: stability, security, democracy, and prosperity for all.  We cannot build a stable, global economy when hundreds of millions of workers and families find themselves on the wrong side of globalization.

Secretary Kerry captured the importance of protecting rights in the global market place in his address at the University of Virginia, where he said:

“I’m here because our lives as Americans are more intertwined than ever before with the lives of people in parts of the world that we may have never visited. In the global challenges of diplomacy, development, economic security, environmental security, you will feel our success or failure just as strongly as those people in those other countries that you’ll never meet…it also gives us many more rivals determined to create jobs and opportunities for their own people, a voracious marketplace that sometimes forgets morality and values.”

The history of the labor movement in the United States — and of workers everywhere — is the story of courageous men and women who persevered and risked their lives to bring dignity to their work.

Today, we celebrate the sacrifices and successes of workers everywhere, and commit to doing everything we can to advance labor rights in the global economy.

 

Excellent example of talking the walk but not walking the talk.  Brava! Can we have more, please? File under the “hypocrasy” tag. And no, that’s not a misspelling.

😳