Danny Ayalon and UNESCO: Lies or Incompetence?

Twitter and Facebook messages announcing Israel’s suspension of its contacts with UNESCO were released by the Deputy Foreign Minister hours after issuing a formal denial that blamed his spokeswoman for the original announcement

Danny Ayalon and UNESCO: Lies or Incompetence?
screenshot of Danny Ayalon's facebook page

Last night (Wed.) the Deputy Foreign Minister, Danny Ayalon, announced that Israel severs its contact with the international culture organization, UNESCO. This was a result, he claimed, of UNESCO announcing the sheikh’s tomb known to Israelis as Rachel’s Tomb to be a mosque. Which, by the way, is not the case.

This took place on the same day in the Foreign Ministry announced it was suspending defense cooperation with the UK, so Ayalon may be forgiven for thinking this was too much for one night. Therefore, Ayalon quickly announced (Hebrew) his earlier proclamation was taken out of context by… his spokeswoman, Irena Ettinger; he claimed he never said that relations with UNESCO would be severed. It should be noted that Ayalon’s words in the Knesset are certainly confusing: he said that “Israel strongly rejects all of UNESCO’s five decisions”, and that “we have decided to suspend all our cooperation with UNESCO on these issues, and also regarding other issues.” Can anyone tell me what “also regarding other issues” means, except suspension of all Israeli cooperation with UNESCO?

Be that as it may, the sound you are not hearing is the whistling of the rocket launched from the Foreign Ministry and delivering the recently fired Ettinger to the job market. Which would be only fitting a spokeswoman who claimed her boss said “Israel suspends its cooperation with the organization until it cancels this scandalous decision.” Assuming, that is, Ayalon did not actually say that.

But is Ayalon’s denial truthful? In the past, the deputy minister had no qualms about blaming his screw-up on other people. In the infamous affair of the low chair, for instance, he chose to blame the media, who shockingly refused to follow his game plan. Danny Ayalon’s facebook page

The Haaretz article, in which Ayalon denied what Ettinger attributed to him, was published at 21:04. 36 minutes later, Ayalon’s Facebook page was updated to include the announcement of “suspension of relations with UNESCO – the original, un-updated pronouncement. It can still be seen in Ayalon’s Facebook page as this post is written; I attach a screencap (I wish to thank Yair Mehalalel for that). As can be seen from the second screencap, Ayalon’s Twitter stream informed us at about 10:00 today that “Because of Rachel’s Tomb, we severed relations with UNESCO (Hebrew). The link is to Ayalon’s Facebook page (see the photos in full size here and here. I’ve highlighted the relevant bits).

Danny Ayalon and UNESCO: Lies or Incompetence?
Screenshot of Danny Ayalon's twitter account

So when is Danny Ayalon telling us the truth – when he says on Facebook that he severed tied with UNESCO, to the joy of the Israeli mobs, or when he denies it for the benefit of the diplomatic community?

One could, of course, argue that the Twitter message and Facebook update are also the work of the hard-working Ettinger. But they appear hours after Ayalon’s official denial. So apart from the question of why Ettinger still holds her job – if indeed she erred, and is not used as a scapegoat – we also have to wonder whether Danny Ayalon knows what his subordinates are doing in his name.

Lying or incompetent? It’s your call, Danny.