Monday, June 22, 2015

Michael Oren's revenge?

Michael Oren is a former Israeli Ambassador to the US. He’s just published a new book, Ally: My Journey Across the American-Israeli Divide. Although it’s not due out until June 23, 2015, it seems that half the world has already read it.

The book presents an insider’s look at recent US-Israel relations. The book claims that, essentially, US President Barack Obama and his administration have deliberately and consistently thrown Israel under the bus (David Suissa, “Torn between two loves”, JewishJournal, June 17, 2015).

The revelations are shocking, especially so for anyone who has defended Obama as ‘really a true ally to Israel’. If you read this book, you are not going to feel good about Barack Hussein Obama.

Oren wrote (in a Wall Street Journal essay that summarizes his accusations), "From the moment he entered office, Mr. Obama promoted an agenda of championing the Palestinian cause and achieving a nuclear accord with Iran. Such policies would have put him at odds with any Israeli leader" (ibid).

The US has been quick to declare that Oren’s assertions in the book are ‘false’ (“US Rejects 'False' Claims of Abandoning Israel”, NDTV, June 18, 2015). US Secretary of State John Kerry characterized the book’s assertions as “absolutely inaccurate and false” (ibid). U.S. Ambassador to Israel Daniel B. Shapiro told Israel Army Radio that Oren is a know-nothing fabulist trying to hawk his new book (William Booth, “Netanyahu refuses to apologize for ex-ambassador’s criticism of Obama”, Washington Post, June 19, 2015).

The US has become so angered by the book, it has demanded an apology from both Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (“Despite US Demands, Netanyahu Won’t Disavow Michael Oren’s Book”, JewishPress, June 18, 2015) and the head of Oren’s Israeli political Party (Kulanu) (Jacob Kornbluh, “Kulanu Chairman Kahlon Apologizes Over MK Oren’s Criticism of Obama”, JPupdates, June 17, 2015).

Netanyahu didn’t apologize. Kulanu head Moshe Kahlon did (“Kahlon apologizes to US over ex-envoy’s Obama putdown”, Times of Israel, June 17, 2015).

The book, some say, threatens to destabilize Israel-US relations (“Oren's memoir drama hurts Israel”, AI Monitor, June 18, 2015).

You may already know all of this. What you may not know is, Michael Oren is no fool.

You may not realize that, after this uproar by the US against his book, Oren has—just days after the uproar started—published another essay, this time in Foreign Policy (“How Obama Opened His Heart to the ‘Muslim World’”, June 19, 2015). In its own way, this essay stands as a foundation for understanding why Obama has betrayed Israel—because he has been determined to reconcile with Islam (ibid).

Israel Matzav reminds us that Oren has written yet another essay, this time in the LA Times (“Why Obama is wrong about Iran being 'rational' on nukes”, June 19, 2015). Here, Oren attacks the Obama Iran policy again, this time from a completely different angle.

Then, in two interviews, Oren opened up his ‘defense’ against US cries of ‘false’. In one interview, he tells of Israeli reaction to an Obama promise broken:

By the summer of 2013, President Obama had convinced several key Israelis that he wasn’t bluffing about using force against the Iranian nuclear program. Then he failed to enforce his red line against Syrian dictator Bashar Assad—and the Israelis realized they’d been snookered. The Israelis were shocked. In an interview, Oren recalled, “Everyone went quiet. An eerie quiet. Everyone understood that” Israel was on its own (Matthew Continetti, “ ‘We’re On Our Own’ “, Washington Free Beacon, June 19, 2015).

In another interview, “Oren tells the story of what happened when Vice President Joe Biden asked Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas to ‘look him in the eye and promise that he could make peace with Israel.’ Abbas looked away. The White House did nothing” (ibid).

Actually, the White House did act. It attacked Israel. It accused Israel of ‘disproportional casualties’ in Gaza. It announced that it would ‘re-evaluate’ its support of Israel at the UN. At one point during the Gaza-Israel war, the White House said it was “appalled” by civilian casualties in Gaza, casualties that were “inflated and trumpeted by Hamas propagandists” (ibid). Oren pointed out in this interview that in the past Obama had used the word ‘appalling’ to describe the atrocities of Muammar Qaddafi. “Qaddafi and the IDF”, Oren said, became “two peas in a pod, according to this White House” (ibid).

If I had to guess, I’d say Oren understands the Obama administration all too well. I’d say he understands how the White House would react and respond. I’d say he’s prepared a booby-trap for them.

The trap works like this: offer up the book. It’s bait. The administration took it like a greedy shark. The White House went ballistic. Now, through a series of interviews and follow-up essays in the Wall Street Journal, the LA Times and Foreign Policy—all written within a week--Oren strikes back with a vengeance. Each essay and interview gives a slightly different argument as to why the Obama administration has become so anti-Israel.

These essays and interviews aren’t just an example of Oren hitting back at Obama with some kind of a one-two punch. They’re more like a one-two-three-four-five punch, all occurring over less than three days.

I wouldn’t call this story, ‘America rejects disgruntled diplomat’. I’d call it, ‘Oren’s revenge’.

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