I’m guessing Michael Oren’s recent assaults on President Barack Obama stem from his spell at Kibbutz Gan Shmuel. At 16, Oren was rejected by kibbutz girls who saw him as a weakling Diaspora Jew. He’s still trying to show them how wrong they were by attacking the leader of the biggest superpower. Pop psychology? Of course. Just like Oren’s.
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His new book, “Ally: My Journey Across the American-Israeli Divide,” is already a best seller on Amazon. How could it not be? How many former Israeli ambassadors to the United States have dared publish their thoughts on the father who abandoned a future U.S. president?
Oren’s main argument was presented earlier this month in an article in The Wall Street Journal. It is almost insulting in its groundlessness. According to Oren, both Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are responsible for the rift that developed between the United States and Israel. But only one of them is to blame. Here are the four pieces of evidence as described by the Kulanu MK:
* Obama delivered a speech in Cairo at the outset of his term, in which he appealed to the Muslim world, yet he never visited Israel then. The same speech included a mention of the United States’ commitment to Israel, but for Oren it suffices that one tries to reconcile with the Muslim world – and in Cairo, no less – in order to be labeled as anti-Israeli. Oren somehow omitted the fact that Obama later came on a very friendly visit to Israel.
* Obama broke a long-standing principle that has governed U.S.-Israel relations for years: One doesn’t publicly air any disputes. What a scoundrel!
I only hope this argument merely indicates Oren’s short memory span. Didn’t President George W. Bush demand of Ariel Sharon in March 2002 that Israel immediately withdraw from West Bank cities? Didn’t Bill Clinton twist Ehud Barak’s arm by forcing him to cancel an arms deal between Israel Aerospace Industries and China?
* Obama breached an agreement that the two countries spring no surprises on each other by publicly announcing new policies. And how did he do this? In a closed meeting with Netanyahu, in which he stated that he expected a settlement construction freeze and renewed peace negotiations that could lead to a two-state solution. How does a statement at a closed meeting turn into a “publicly aired surprise”?
* Obama announced a new U.S. policy that supports the establishment of a Palestinian state along the 1967 borders with an exchange of territory, including a freeze on construction in the West Bank. This is an amazing claim. First of all, Oren seems to think everything is personal. Is it unthinkable that Obama would consider this to be an American and Israeli interest? Secondly, is it possible that Oren hasn’t heard of the Clinton parameters laid out in 2000? They include a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders with exchanges of territory.
Let’s assume, as Oren does, that both leaders made mistakes, but only one of them did so purposefully. Let’s examine who that would be. One leader saved besieged Israeli diplomats at the embassy in Cairo; financed the Iron Dome anti-missile system; blocked Palestinian attempts to obtain recognition at the UN Security Council; and provided Israel with ammunition during last summer’s Operation Protective Edge.
The second leader mobilized in efforts to topple the U.S. president in 2012; avoided launching a diplomatic plan (Oren’s words); and appeared at the U.S. Congress behind the president’s back – conduct which Oren termed a “cynical political move.” Who is more to blame?
I’m not sure to what extent Obama managed to heal wounds inflicted on him by a father’s abandonment by exhibiting sycophantic behavior toward Islam. But I can tell Oren I called the only female kibbutz member I know in Gan Shmuel, and she told me that, in her view, it’s very macho for an Israeli politician to insult an American president – macho in the sense of being very dumb.