08ASTANA2255, KAZAKHSTAN: ISRAELI AMBASSADOR SAYS ELITE

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08ASTANA2255 2008-11-14 09:59 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Astana

VZCZCXRO0992
PP RUEHBI RUEHCI RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHLH RUEHNP RUEHPW RUEHROV
RUEHSR
DE RUEHTA #2255/01 3190959
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 140959Z NOV 08
FM AMEMBASSY ASTANA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3834
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE PRIORITY 0805
RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUCNCLS/SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING PRIORITY 0204
RUEHTV/AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV PRIORITY 0258
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO PRIORITY 0914
RUEHJM/AMCONSUL JERUSALEM PRIORITY 0085
RHMFISS/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
RHEFAAA/DIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY 0369
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC PRIORITY 0286
RUEHNO/USMISSION USNATO PRIORITY 2372
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 2039

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 ASTANA 002255 
 
SIPDIS 
 
STATE FOR SCA/CEN, NEA/IPA, DRL/IRF 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/14/2028 
TAGS: PGOV PREL PINR ETRD MASS KIRF UZ TI IS KZ
SUBJECT:  KAZAKHSTAN:  ISRAELI AMBASSADOR SAYS ELITE 
DISSATISFIED 
 
Classified By: Ambassador Richard E. Hoagland, 1.4 (B), (D) 
 
1.  (C) SUMMARY:  The Israeli Ambassador in Astana asserts 
many in the elite are dissatisfied about President 
Nazarbayev,s alleged isolation and lack of a plan of 
succession.  The Israeli Embassy,s main functional interest 
is trade, with &modest military sales8 that include 
unmanned aerial vehicles.  The Israeli Ambassador said he 
would again seek support for the Dushanbe synagogue from 
Kazakhstani oligarch Aleksandr Mashkevich.  When asked why he 
was serving a second tour as Ambassador to Kazakhstan, he 
replied that it takes &tough guys8 to succeed in 
Kazakhstan.  END SUMMARY. 
 
A PROGRESSIVE KHAN, BUT STILL A KHAN 
 
2.  (C) Ambassador called on new Israeli Ambassador Israel 
Mei-Ami on November 13.  Mei-Ami arrived in Astana in 
September for his second tour as Ambassador (previous tour: 
1996-2002).  Drawing on his past experience in Kazakhstan and 
because his native language is Russian, he already has a 
broad circle of social contacts among the intelligentsia, 
business community, and the upper mid-levels of the 
government.  He said he has found them to be almost uniformly 
critical of President Nazarbayev, alleging that his close 
advisers, ministers, and governors (akims) are increasingly 
sycophantic and shield him from bad news, especially about 
the economy.  Emphasizing that his contacts are &not 
opposition,8 Mei-Ami said they feel the government is not 
doing enough to manage the financial crisis.  They also 
complain that Nazarbayev, now 72 years old, has no clear plan 
of succession.  They tell Mei-Ami it is &impossible8 First 
Daughter Dariga would be considered.  Mei-Ami characterized 
Nazarbayev as a &Central Asian khan,8 not dissimilar ) at 
least in psychology ) to other presidents in the region, 
although he is significantly more progressive:  &The khan in 
Tashkent (President Islom Karimov) thinks it,s enough if he 
gives stale bread and weak tea to his people.8 
 
3.  (C) Mei-Ami said Tel Aviv,s fundamental interest in 
Kazakhstan is to maintain strong, positive relations with a 
moderate Muslim country as a balance against Iran.  But 
that,s easy, he said, because there is &absolutely no 
anti-Semitism in Kazakhstan8 and, since its independence, 
has always been a strong friend of Israel.  Mei-Ami said 
several members of parliament in Astana are Jewish, including 
the colorful television personality Daria Klebanova, as well 
as several vice ministers, &although they do not advertise 
their Jewishness.8 
 
FROM SCALPLES TO DRONES 
 
4.  (C) Mei-Ami said the second Israeli priority, and what 
takes most of his time, is trade ) predominantly 
agricultural, medical, and high-technology equipment. 
Kazakhstan plans to send an 80-member trade mission to Israel 
in December.  When queried, Mei-Ami admitted Israel has 
&relatively modest8 military sales to Kazakhstan, including 
telecommunications, artillery for two battalions, 
night-vision goggles and other high-tech supplies, and &a 
number of unmanned aerial vehicles.8  He said Israel would 
like to increase military sales, but &laws on both sides are 
burdensome,8 and Tel Aviv is &fastidious about end-user 
concerns.8 
 
HELP FOR THE DUSHANBE SYNAGOGUE? 
 
5.  (C) Aware of the Ambassador,s past tour in Tajikistan, 
Mei-Ami asked about the status of the synagogue in Dushanbe. 
When the Ambassador queried why Jewish Central Asian or 
diaspora leaders have done nothing to finance a new synagogue 
and community center for that small community, he shrugged 
and said, without elaborating, &internal disputes.8  He 
said he had once pressed Israeli billionaire (born in 
 
ASTANA 00002255  002 OF 002 
 
 
Uzbekistan) Lev Leviev to take an interest in the issue, but 
had gotten nowhere.  Mei-Ami expressed satisfaction that 
Rabbi David Gurevich, the controversial &Rabbi of Central 
Asia8 who occasionally intervened with the government of 
Tajikistan about the Dushanbe synagogue, is no longer in the 
region, having lost his visa to live in Tashkent.  Mei-Ami 
dismissed him as &nothing but a trouble-maker.8  At the 
ambassador,s urging, Mei-A
mi said he would raise the 
Dushanbe synagogue issue again with Kazakhstani oligarch 
Aleksandr Mashkevich. 
 
6.  (C) Mei-Ami lamented that his embassy is so small ) only 
an Ambassador and a DCM/jack-of-all-trades &who spends most 
of his time on security.8  He said he has petitioned Tel 
Aviv for, at a minimum, a military attach and a trade 
attach, but so far the Ministry of Finance has not funded 
these positions.  When asked why he is back for a second tour 
as Ambassador to Kazakhstan, Mei-Ami admitted he would have 
preferred a comfortable post in South America, but Tel Aviv 
ran through two Ambassadors to Kazakhstan after he left ) 
&young smart guys who weren,t tough enough to succeed 
here.8 
 
7.  (U) BIO NOTE:  Mei-Ami was born in 1947 in Atyrau (then 
Guriyev), Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic, of Ashkenazi 
parents who had fled Poland/Ukraine to Uzbekistan during 
World War II.  In 1956, the family moved to Ukraine, and then 
emigrated to Israel via Poland in 1960.  In the 1980s, 
Mei-Ami filled diplomatic positions in Ecuador and Mexico. 
He was Israel,s Ambassador to Uzbekistan (1992-1994), and 
served twice in leadership positions in the Israeli Foreign 
Ministry,s Central European and Eurasian Department.  He is 
married and has two children.  He speaks Hebrew, Russian, 
English, Spanish, Polish, and French. 
HOAGLAND

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