Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Ambassador, You Are Spoiling Us...

We are so familiar of the cliché of someone being an 'ambassador' for such and such a cause - and it is most often used in cases of the fall from grace of some such 'ambassador' - that it is a curious pleasure to see it used to apply to the fall from grace of a real-life ambassador, who henceforth will probably be remembered as being a great ambassador for the select community of those that get found by the police lying in the street drunk and naked but for the scant cover afforded by bondage gear. Step forward Israeli ambassador to El Salvador Tzuriel Refael; since recalled by Tel Aviv, his arrest has been called an 'unprecedented emabarrassment' by a government spokesman, who was presumably not moved to the same sentiments by the levelling of Jenin, last year's bombing of Lebanon or the erection of Israel's illegal 'security wall' in the Occupied Territories.

My sympathy goes out to Ambassador Refael, who, one imagines, knew how to have a good time and was not willing to allow a mere trifle such as diplomatic protocol to interfere with his fight for the right to party. But one might ask what Israel is doing with a diplomatic presence in such a small republic thousands of miles away as El Salvador. The answer might lie in the Central American state being a loyal client for the Israeli arms industry, and a couple of decades of back, for Israeli expertise in training its government-sponsored death squads. A similar thought ran through my mind when I walked through the beautiful old town centre of Bratislava last month, seeing embassies housed on almost every street corner. I was a bit surprised to see, alongside the missions of better-known countries the consulates of such marginal nations as Georgia and Paraguay, until I realised that such countries are probably availing of Slovakia's long-standing arms industry. Of course, Costa Rica, which famously abolished its army in 1948, also has an embassy there. But Costa Rica still imports weapons for its police force and its state paramilitaries, I presume.