A reader writes:
I am a Department of State foreign service officer working in a regional affairs bureau that is NOT the Near East Asian (NEA) Bureau, which has responsibility for the Middle East, including Israel.
A few months ago I found myself chatting with a guy at the local park about my job. I told him the name of the bureau where I worked, and was surprised when he proceeded to rattle off a string of names of people who worked in my bureau, almost without pause. These weren't the sorts of people who are known to the general public. How do you know so much about my bureau in the Department of State, I asked?
He explained that he worked at a certain prominent Jewish advocacy organization, and that it was his job to know who we are. I asked if he worked a lot with officials in the NEA Bureau. Never, he said, explaining matter-of-factly that they are all anti-Israel. (What a claim!) In fact, he said, the entire State Department is anti-Israel, so his organization's modus operandi is to go straight to the top -- the political appointees, Administration officials, Members of Congress.
I was so shocked, I didn't know what to say. In my nearly decade-long career in the State Department I have never met anyone who is "anti-Israel." Perhaps our experiences working at Embassies in other Middle Eastern countries make us more balanced in our assessment of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. Perhaps that is exactly what they are seeking to avoid.
All in all, an enlightening experience.
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