Fire Ambassador Oren

Posted: December 15th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: The Right, the US and us | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

Israel’s ambassador to the US, Michael Oren, believes that supporting a two states solution and a full Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank, or opposing the war in Gaza, are illegitimate positions, which open the door for no less than the distraction of Israel. J street, the pro-peace lobbing group which advocates such ideas, is in Oren’s view “a unique problem”.

Forward reports:

Addressing a breakfast session at the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism’s biennial convention December 7, Ambassador Michael Oren described J Street as “a unique problem in that it not only opposes one policy of one Israeli government, it opposes all policies of all Israeli governments. It’s significantly out of the mainstream.”

After a speech that touched on the spiritual basis for and the threats to the state of Israel, Oren issued an unscripted condemnation of J Street.

“This is not a matter of settlements here [or] there. We understand there are differences of opinion,” Oren said. “But when it comes to the survival of the Jewish state, there should be no differences of opinion. You are fooling around with the lives of 7 million people. This is no joke.”

If I were one of Meretz or Labor’s member, or even Kadima’s, this would have been enough for me to demand for Dr. Oren to be sent back to Jerusalem. These parties hold some of J Street’s views (in Meretz’s case, probably all of them), so Oren is practically accusing them of “fooling around with the lives of 7 million people”. Even if he didn’t cross the line of talking about elected members of the Knesset, he got very close to it, considering the fact that Meretz, Labor and Kadima even sent representatives to the J Street convention.

James Besser touched this point on his blog at The Jewish Week site, when he wrote that “[according to the ambassador's approach], guys like Rabin and Ariel Sharon must have been secretly anti-Israel.”

It is no surprise that Oren is turning out to be the Likud’s ambassador to Washington, rather than Israel’s. Prior to his appointment, Dr. Oren was an associate researcher on the Shalem Center, the rightwing think tank and publishing house which is financed by Benjamin Netanyahu’s close friend, gambling billionaire Sheldon Adelson (who is also the publisher of the free rightwing tabloid Israel Hayon). When Netanyhau returned to the PM office, he appointed people from the Shalem Center and Israel Hayom to senior positions in his administration. These are the hardcore ideologists behind Israel’s current policies.

Dr. Oren is no exception. Like his boss Netanyahu he opposed in 2007 to (then) PM Ehud Olmert’s negotiations with the Abu-Mazen and the PLO, claiming in an article in Haaretz that Israel should replace the Palestinian Authority with “separate autonomous zones in the West Bank, where daily life would be run by local leaders”. This correlates with another idea Oren presented, this time in a piece in the Jewish-American conservative magazine Commentary: that Israel unilaterally annex the settlements blocks, as well as “strategic assets” in the West Bank and holy places.

(…) to maintain Israel’s demographic integrity, measures must be taken to separate Israel from the densely populated areas of the West Bank. In the absence of effective Palestinian interlocutors, Israel may have to draw its eastern border unilaterally. The new borders should include the maximum number of Jews, of natural and strategic assets, and of Jewish holy places.

Oren’s last piece before assuming office as Netanyahu’s ambassador to the US was an analysis of Adam Sandler’s Don’t Mess with the Zohan, which he believes to be an anti-Zionist film (or at least a Post-Zionist one).

As far as I could tell, Oren’s remarks weren’t mentioned in the Hebrew media or blogosphere. It could be that everybody missed this story, or that people just failed see the importance of it. Oren was never a public figure here, and before he was appointed, very few Israelis even heard of him. To the best of my knowledge, his book on the Six Days War wasn’t even published in Hebrew. His relations with the Jewish establishment in Washington is not that interesting for most Israelis.

American Jews, on the other hand, should find it very interesting. If I were in their shoes, I would have demanded to know from were exactly did Dr. Oren sum up the nerve to refer to J Street as an illegitimate organization, or to attribute some secret agenda to its people? As M.J. Rosenberg points out on TPM, Dr. Oren is, after all, the official representative of Israel in their country, not some Jewish organizational leader arguing his own private concerns (it seems that meddling in American politics is a common tendency in the current Israeli Foreign Office).

The bigger issue, of course, is the willingness of American Jews to continue with their unlimited support of Israel, even when in its actions, Israel is getting further and further away from the ideals and values these very Jews believe in. in other words, I am not surprised when a neo-con republican Jew is cheerleading for Netanyahu, but when it’s the liberal Jews that echo in every word the Israeli propaganda, I’m having troubles figuring it out. personally, I think it’s time for the Jewish community to get of the Taglit bus, and start applying on Israel the same political standards they use back home. Dealing with Ambassador Oren could be a start.


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