Michael Oren Blames Obama for U.S. Shortcomings in Peace Process

Speaking in southern Israel, the former Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. says Obama's worldview informs his unwillingness to use military force.

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Michael Oren speaks at an event.
Michael Oren speaks at an event.Credit: Ofer Vaknin
Almog Ben Zikri
Almog Ben Zikri

To understand American failures in the Palestinian-Israeli peace process, MK Michael Oren (Kulanu) said Saturday, it is imperative to understand U.S. President Barack Obama's worldview, which was influenced by exposure to Islam in his youth and the principles he absorbed on U.S. college campuses.

Speaking to an audience in Be’er Sheva, Oren said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had not gotten enough credit from the Obama administration for his decision during his previous term to stop construction in the West Bank.

“I want to see a left-wing government that freezes construction on French Hill in Jerusalem,” he said, referring to a longtime East Jerusalem Jewish neighborhood.

Oren said he was relying on Obama’s own writings to draw this conclusion. He noted that these writings show unwillingness to be "the cop of the world" and use military force, and a desire to extend a hand to the Muslim world while moving away from Israel on a diplomatic level. However, Oren said that on the military level, Israel has received a warm embrance from the United States.

According to Oren, after the attacks in France, at Charlie Hebdo and the Hyper Casher supermarket, the United States did not send a senior official to the march of world leaders because it was defined as a march against radical Islam. “Obama will never utter the words 'Islamic extremism,'” Oren said.

To underscore his arguments, Oren quoted from Secretary of State John Kerry’s speech after the last terror attack in France, when he was visiting the U.S. Embassy in Paris. Oren quoted Kerry as saying that while some rationale of the attackers' anger could be found in the Charlie Hebdo attack, the current attack was “absolutely indiscriminate.” According to Oren, who cited Kerry’s slip of the tongue by using the word “legitimacy,” according to the U.S. administration’s worldview, when Muslims attack Western targets there is anger, there is a reason and that reason is on the Western side, we take part of the responsibility.

Oren also mentioned Obama’s speech after the attacks in Paris last year. According to Oren, in Obama’s speech he called the terrorists “extreme radicals,” and called the Hyper Casher a “deli” and the Jewish terror victims “folks.” The use of these words, Oren said, showed Obama’s worldview.

In June, Oren published an article in the Wall Street Journal entitled “How Obama Abandoned Israel” in which he criticized the president’s policy toward the country. After the article came out, the U.S. Ambassador to Israel, Dan Shapiro, slammed Oren’s statements, calling them “an imaginary account. Kulanu chairman Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon summoned Oren for clarifications and tried to persuade him to apologize. Oren refused, and Kahlon subsequently wrote a letter of his own to Shapiro, rejecting Oren’s comments.