Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Cabinet Protocols, Early July 1948: On the Practice of Political Discourse

It's been a while since we've had an installment in our series of cabinet protocols (introduced here, previous chapter here). Now we're back, with protocols of another two meetings.

On July 2 1948, Israel's cabinet dealt with three topics. The first was the ongoing arrest of people who had been on the Altalena. Most had already been released, but it appears there was a degree of chaos or at least lack of clarity as to whether they were all free, or perhaps a handful were still under arrest, and who, actually, was in the position to know.  The second was about the positions to be taken in the cease-fire negotiations: it was decided to wait for the next meeting. Finally, there was a kerfuffle about appointments in the brand new IDF. Some of the ministers felt some officers were being promoted for political reasons, or because of their connections.

The meeting of July 4th dealt with another matter having to do with forging an acceptable political discourse in the brand new country: is it permissible for cabinet ministers publicly to express their disagreement with decisions made in the cabinet? There's no necessarily "correct" answer to this question; different societies will be comfortable with different answers. Israel in July 1948 however didn't yet have a political tradition to break.

Other matters discussed on July 4th were the negotiating stances to be taken in the cease-fire talks: Not to relinquish Israeli control of Jerusalem, for example, to preserve the battlefield results since the beginning of the war, and to assure free and unhampered immigration. Finally, a number of ministers posed questions about how the Arab population was being treated. The terse protocols don't say much about the content of the discussions, and for that we'd need to read the far longer stenograms of the meetings.

No comments:

Post a Comment