$25,000 Rosh Hashana party for Israel's US ambassador
As Foreign Ministry beset by budget cuts, diplomats decry decision to approve a Rosh Hashana party this September in Washington on which $13,000 will be spent on catering alone; Foreign diplomat: 'This could be a modest event. Spending like this is a waste of money.'
A huge party thrown for the Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer to the US in September to celebrate the Jewish new year of Rosh Hashana, has raised the eyebrows of many workers in the Israeli Foreign Ministry
They claim that the ministry approved an event which amounts to a total cost of $25,000 during a time when, much to their dismay, the ministry has suffered significant budget cuts which have affected their ability to functions effectively.
While officials in the ministry maintained that it was acceptable practice to throw parties for Rosh Hashana, they said that there has never been an occasion of such proportions. The total expenditure on this one event, they contended, equalled that required for Israel’s Independence Day celebrations—a time when it is more acceptable to prepare such an expensive party which attracts many more participants.
The requests made for Dermer’s party included $13,000 on catering alone, $9,000 for a marquee tent and $1,000 for alcohol, balloons and music. Dermer invited senior officials in the American government to the party, along with Jewish community representatives and others.
Despite what appears to be frivolous spending and critics saying that it constituted a gross mishandling of financial resources, the party was approved. No justification, said some workers, could be provided for such an extravagant event amid budget cuts.
“There are diplomats in North America and other places who don’t finish the month by pouring out money without thinking,” complained one of the Israeli officials outside Israel. “Why couldn’t a more modest event be organized with refreshments, music and the raising of glasses like they do in the White House? It is ok to throw a large party in Independence Day, but why do another one on Rosh Hashana?”
Another official added, “At $25,000 it would have been possible to pay for a celebratory meal for hundreds of poor people. Diplomats outside of Israel are living in the minus and here they are throwing away money without thinking.”
The Foreign Ministry responded to the complaints: “A Rosh Hashana party is one of the two flagship events which have taken place for many years in the Israeli consulate in Washington. The budget for the event was approved as part of an annual program in advance and its costs were similar to those approved for the three previous years,” the ministry claimed.
“The budget for the previous period was even lower due to the fact that the previous ambassador’s home was significantly larger than now and there was no need to construct such a large marquee to fit the huge number of guests.”