Good Lorde! Now we’re fighting New Zealand!

In the world of Israel’s ‘anti-diplomacy,’ anything is possible — including the extremely improbable.

Maori warriors (Image by Wikimedia Commons)
Once were worriors… soon once more. Maori presentation at an NZ Navy base (Photo by New Zealand Defence Force)

There comes a time in every Israeli’s life when he or she must undertake a great challenge on behalf of the Zionist endeavor. This morning I learned that my country has found itself at the center of a diplomatic debacle with New Zealand, and it appears that I may have to be the one to tie the bungee rope around my waist, step into the ravine of international relations, and resolve it.

First, though, let us ask: how in the world does one run into conflict with New Zealand? It must take so much imagination and innovation to even start to ruffle kiwi feathers. Of course, the French sank a boat in Aukland harbor in 1985. It was the Greenpeace Rainbow Warrior, which threatened to temper with the Republic’s South Pacific nuclear experiments. Les Français actually ran a commando operation on New Zealand soil, killing one activist. Indeed, they are known for being avant garde, and that fiasco is up there with Duchamp’s Pissoir.

But how did we, a far more conservative nation, get the New Zealanders mad? We are experts on fighting our immediate neighbors – but they are so far away, and so famously peaceful to begin with. What could we have possibly done to irk them? Or how did they manage to irk us?

It fits right in with most of our famous cases of faux pas; it has to do with refusal to share. In this case: the refusal to share an ambassador. It appears that, in a is not at all unusual arrangement, New Zealand’s ambassador to Turkey also serves as its ambassador to Israel. He is based in Ankara and is in charge of contact with several regimes of the Levant, including Jordan and the Palestinian Authority.

As new Ambassador Jonathan Curr arrived in Turkey recently, he was due to present his credentials to Israeli President Reuven Rivlin. In addition, he was due to present a letter of introduction to the PA. New Zealand does not recognize Palestine as a sovereign state, hence the lesser ceremony.

Upon learning of the Ramallah engagement Israel cancelled the Jerusalem ceremony and announced that it will not recognize Curr as an ambassador – unless New Zealand appoints a more “minor diplomat” to deal with the Palestinians (who of course always deserve less than we do). Since Israel controls all movement to the West Bank, Curr could literally be barred from handing the letter to the PA.

Wellington reacted with outrage, and a western diplomat explained to the Haaretz daily that, “Israel scored a massive self-goal”. I’ll be the first to agree. For years now, Israel has been dealing with the world in what can only be described as “anti-diplomacy.” Five years ago we gave the Turkish ambassador a short stool to sit on to make him feel short and belittled. A few weeks ago we called Brazil a “diplomatic dwarf” and refused to apologize (President Rivlin finally did, of his own accord).

Are our diplomats senseless idiots, or this this deliberate policy? I would pick the latter. Israel is severing and hurting its ties with as many countries as possible, including historical allies. As a result, the Israeli public feels isolated and huddles around the calming figure of Netanyahu, a solitary companion in a world with no friends.

This is where I come in. I do have a friend in this world besides Netanyahu. Well, of course she’s never heard of me, but I’m a loyal friend to her, ever since first listening to her album “Pure Heroine.” My friends all know that despite my years, I am prodigious New Zealand musician Lorde’s number-one fan between the Jordan and the sea. Not only did I dress up as her for Purim but I translated three of her songs into Hebrew, and sang two of them on IDF radio. The IDF would likely prefer to forget this peaceful incident once the war erupts and we start bombing Nelson.

My adoration for Lorde is indeed such that I am willing to represent all of her nation’s interests in Israel and relieve Curr of his Canaanite duties. I will be more than happy to share my responsibilities with an equally enthusiastic Palestinian Lorde fan, and I know there are many of them out there. Chances are we may set a fine example of diplomacy, one that is far superior to the joke offered by Avigdor Liberman’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.  We’ll never be royals, but we can be honorary chargés d’affaires. Why not?

Addendum: Minutes after this post first appeared, my dear friend Michelle Bubis, an Israeli with Kiwi roots and a lover of both countries, reminded me that this isn’t Israel’s first bad brush with New Zealand. in 2004 two Israelis were arrested in Auckland and charged with passport fraud. The Mossad was never openly implicated, but the relationship between the countries suffered and the bad memories linger. Perhaps we are simply jealous of those who dwell in peaceful green islands and bug them as a young boy pulls on the braids of the girl he finds pretty.

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