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Oren’s criticism of US Jews earns his book five thumbs down: ‘slinky,’ ‘self-aggrandizing,’ ‘twists reality’

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Recent days have seen several sharply-negative reviews of Michael Oren’s new book Ally: My Journey Across the American-Israeli Divide. Five latch on to Oren’s condescending criticisms of American Jewish journalists as a group so afraid of American anti-Semitism that they need to criticize Israel to suck up to power. The angry reviews, two penned by Oren targets, Philip Gordon and Leon Wieseltier, suggest that Oren in his haste (he wrote the book in a year or so) has injured himself and the interests of his adopted country, Israel.

1. Jonathan Broder calls it an anti-Obama screed in Newsweek.

Broder summarizes Oren’s errors re Obama and his misplaced criticisms of American Jews and concludes that Oren has “has sorely misjudged his audience.” That audience is largely American Jews, who are offended by Oren’s sneering tone and will respond to the book, It’s Israel’s policies, not our psychology that is at fault. Note the obnoxious paragraphs from Oren that Broder quotes.

But others who closely follow U.S.-Israel relations will likely find Oren’s book a self-aggrandizing and ultimately disappointing screed. The American-born Oren, now a parliamentarian in Netanyahu’s right-wing coalition, has sadly shifted from measured historian to breathless polemicist, and a poor one at that. With its factual oversights, sneering tone and amateur psychological analysis of both Obama and Netanyahu’s American Jewish critics, Oren’s book offers a view into the deep rifts that have opened not only between Washington and Jerusalem, but also between Israeli and American Jews…

Oren’s accusations have drawn heated denials from the Obama administration. State Department spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby rejected them as “false,” noting that Oren himself was too far removed from the real diplomatic action to know what was really going on. Dan Shapiro, the U.S. ambassador to Israel, protested to Netanyahu, asking him to distance himself from Oren’s accusation. But in another sign of how toxic relations have grown, Netanyahu refused…

[Oren] also criticizes American Jewish journalists, charging they are largely responsible for Israel’s poor image in the U.S. media. He singles out New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman, as well as what he calls that paper’s “malicious” editorial page, which is edited by Andrew Rosenthal. He complains about The New Yorker’s editor David Remnick, Time columnist Joe Klein, The New York Review of Books, and Leon Wieseltier, former literary editor of The New Republic, saying their antagonism toward Netanyahu resembles classic anti-Semitism. “The presence of so many Jews in print and onscreen rarely translates into support for Israel,” he writes, apparently taken aback that the Jewish identity of some journalists doesn’t automatically translate into tribal solidarity. “The opposite is often the case, as some American Jewish journalists flag their Jewishness as a credential for criticizing Israel. ‘I’m Jewish,’ some even seem to say, ‘but I’m not one of those Jews—the settlers, the rabbis, Israeli leaders, or the soldiers of the IDF.’”

Then Oren once again dabbles in amateur psychology. Explaining why American Jewish journalists “nitpick” at Israel—a country he calls their “nation-state”—he suggests some resent Israel for complicating their conflicted identities as Jewish-Americans. Others, he sneers, “saw assailing Israel as a career enhancer—the equivalent of Jewish man bites Jewish dog—that saved several struggling pundits from obscurity.”

“I could not help questioning whether American Jews really felt as secure as they claimed. Perhaps persistent fears of anti-Semitism impelled them to distance themselves from Israel and its often controversial policies,” he writes, adding sarcastically: “Maybe that was why so many of them supported Obama, with his preference for soft power, his Universalist White House seders, and aversion to tribes.”

“Universalist White House seders”! A lot of Jews will read that and think, What an asshole!

Obama seder, with First Lady and the President

Obama seder, with First Lady and the President

2. A coup for the Washington Post. Here is former Obama Middle East adviser Philip Gordon writing the review in the Post saying that Oren’s effort to “peddle a false narrative” — the Obama administration abandoned Israel– will only hurt Israel:

The problem with the book is that Oren’s main argument is a caricature, bolstered by exaggerations and distortions that will probably contribute to the deterioration of the very relationship the author purports to cherish….

Philip Gordon, from Asbarez

Philip Gordon, from Asbarez

Gordon calls Oren out for his attack on Jewish journalists and his psychological analysis of the president:

By mischaracterizing important aspects of U.S. policy and attributing critiques of Israeli policy to anything from Obama’s upbringing and education to Jewish American journalists seeking to enhance their careers, boost ratings or heal some deep psychological wounds — that is, to anything but Israeli policy itself — Oren’s account will provide plenty of fodder for those who want to blame Obama for U.S.-Israeli tensions…

By the way, Gordon opens a window on Obama’s reasoning re Iran when he goes after Oren for trying to get the U.S. to attack that country:

[Oren] approvingly quotes former defense minister Ehud Barak’s claim to U.S. officials that “one night of strategic bombing will restore all your lost prestige in the Middle East,” not realizing how similar that claim might sound to Netanyahu’s “guarantee” to Congress a decade earlier that invading Iraq would have “enormous positive reverberations on the region.” Maybe Obama is not in fact banking on a historic reconciliation with Iran but is instead simply no more eager to use force to solve the problem than was his predecessor, who reluctantly tolerated the emergence of an Iranian centrifuge capacity and began the international negotiations process, yet was rarely accused of being soft.

3. Oren’s former roommate at Columbia, David Rothkopf, is generally positive about the book at Foreign Policy, but notes that the book has unleashed a “firestorm” and its treatment of Jewish journalists is “profoundly, offensively wrong.”

There are parts of Ally and of some of Michael’s recent editorials with which I have serious disagreements. He correctly observes, for example, that while Jews are highly prominent in the U.S. media, this hardly makes the media pro-Israel. However, to illustrate this, he goes on to suggest that several prominent Jewish journalists cite their “Jewishness” to give credibility to their attacks on Israel or to gain prominence. “I’m Jewish,” he later suggests they might be saying. “But I’m not one of those Jews — the settlers, the rabbis, Israeli leaders, or the soldiers of the IDF.” He speculates that if their stance is not due to opportunism, then their position may be due to their insecurity — perhaps due to their fear of anti-Semitism. And yet, elsewhere in the book, he proposes their critique of Netanyahu is similar to the age-old, anti-Semitic image of the Jew as “the other.” Frequently, he expresses frustration with American Jewish critics of Israel, suggesting that many American Jews (meaning those who are too critical of Israel) are psychologically or culturally impeded from understanding the situation in which that country finds itself. Nowhere does he really seem to entertain the possibility that these critics might just be right and their views motivated by the same hope for a better future for the U.S.-Israel relationship, or for Israel itself, as are his.

This view is not just wrong. It is profoundly, offensively wrong. But it is also revealingly wrong. It illustrates a vitally important dimension of the U.S.-Israel relationship as it exists right now — the breakdown between the views of the current Israeli leadership and many in the Israeli establishment, and the views of not only the current U.S. leadership but also many in the Jewish American community. It is important for students of the relationship to understand the rationales employed by those Israelis who attack Americans critical of the Netanyahu government, its settlement policies, and its role in tragic conflicts like the recent bloodletting in Gaza.

Rothkopf goes on to say that when it comes to American Jews, Oren has twisted reality. As you read this, remember that a year ago Rothkopf published an exchange with Oren in which he said that Zionism was “exactly the wrong response to history.” That latent anti-Zionism is evident here too:

Michael is not a Likud-nik, not a reflexive right-winger… He struggles with these issues. I know this because he and I have spent many hours grappling with them together. And yet on these issues, he is not just tone-deaf, he is rationalizing his view with perspectives and analysis that twist reality, pervert his analysis, and make it hard for him to accept the idea that perhaps these critiques don’t come from American Jews because of their flaws, but because of their objectivity or their strengths.

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4. Jane Eisner in the Forward is also angered on behalf of Diaspora liberal Jews, whom she says Oren caricatures and misundertands. The review is titled, “Michael Oren, you hardly know us at all”:

The pluralism Oren ridicules is by now built into the DNA of American Jews (except, perhaps, those who live in ultra-Orthodox enclaves.) We feel accepted here because we are, and that leads many of us to strive to broaden that acceptance to those not as privileged. Of course, the president looks awkward wearing a yarmulke in the official Seder photograph, but that image serves as a powerful acknowledgement that our religious tradition is on equal footing with the Christianity that once dominated America.

The same cannot be said for Reform and Conservative Jews in the Israeli religious context. Another source of American alienation the Netanyahu government has chosen not just to ignore, but to exacerbate.

She says Jews are liberals.

Israelis are at fault for refusing to concede that Americans largely favor diplomacy over military action because the latter hasn’t worked out so well for us lately. And because we have myriad problems at home to address — problems like income inequality, persistent racism, assaults on free speech and reproductive rights, environmental degradation, a broken immigration system. The stuff Jews care about. A lot.

5. Just saw this. Leon Wieseltier in the Atlantic. He’s really pissed off.

In Ally: My Journey Across the American-Israeli Divide, Oren’s slinky and self-aggrandizing memoir of his service as Israel’s ambassador in America, he cites my derogatory adjectives about his boss and glosses them in this foolish and ugly manner

He too says it’s the policies:

There is one explanation for my stubborn resistance of Netanyahu’s good looks that Oren is reluctant to consider. It is that I detest many of his policies because I believe that they are hurting Israel and I do not like to see Israel hurt.

And he mocks the self-hatred analysis.

Oren might instead consider the possibility that it is not fear of anti-Semitism that impels his brethren in America to distance themselves from Israel and its often-controversial policies, but the policies themselves. The alienation that he laments, and rightly, has many causes, but it must also be counted as one of Netanyahu’s achievements. American Jewish insecurity? You must be kidding, brother. Our problem over here is not Jewish self-hatred but Jewish self-love. We are secure almost to the point of decadence. Speaking only for myself, I have searched my heart and am pretty satisfied that I have not carped about Netanyahu because I want to be asked into the Metropolitan Club.

Finally– 6–  not a book review, but an important critique of Oren’s many op-eds in his book roll-out: Ali Gharib at the Nation says that Oren’s book signals the end of liberal Zionism. The right wing is regnant in Israel, and Oren and his neocon wingmen are leaving no room in the middle for liberals to claim that Israel is supporting reform. Therefore the liberal Zionists should move into the BDS camp. (I have long talked about the inevitable polarization).

One of the most curious strains of Oren’s recent attacks were those against liberal American Jews. In his book (which came out this week and I haven’t read), he reportedly directs substantial ire at American liberals. A Haaretz article reviewed the attacks: “Obama isn’t Oren’s only target: he is also critical of American Jewish liberals and their ‘religion’ of Tikkun Olam, and turns devastating when it comes to American journalists who are also Jews.” Oren went after the New York Times editorial board, Times writer Thomas Friedman, and Leon Wieseltier, formerly with The New Republic and more recently of The Atlantic—liberal Zionists all.

No single example can tell the whole story of these complex politics, but Oren’s attack is representative of something broader: Unlike BDS, the Israeli right and, by extension, their American allies hold real power. It is they, not those one-staters among BDS advocates, who are squeezing liberals out of the pro-Israel camp in America….

In other words, the pro-Israel right—exemplified most recently in Michael Oren’s attacks on American liberals—is winning. The point is fast approaching at which liberal Zionists will have to choose between their liberalism and their Zionism, if only because the notion of liberal Zionism itself is everyday becoming less of a plausible ideology for what’s happening on the ground in Greater Israel. I’m not asking them to join BDS efforts, but at least if they can’t see who their real comrades are—those dedicated to human rights and equality as universal values—they should recognize who their real enemies are. Instead, the right is rendering liberal Zionism, such that it is, a moot ideology, even as liberal Zionists themselves take the fight to BDS. Michael Oren must be pleased.

About Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

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81 Responses

  1. Krauss
    June 28, 2015, 3:25 pm

    I’m not sure if you use the term “diaspora Jews” ironically or not, but I nevertheless wonder how long it must take for people until they finally stop seeing themselves as a “diaspora”. That is in of itself a product of Zionism; no place except Israel can truly be home, otherwise you are perpetually in the “diaspora”.

    That is mindpoison.

    • yonah fredman
      June 28, 2015, 4:30 pm

      Krauss- Traditionally world Jewry outside of Israel was referred to as the Golus, or the Galut, meaning the exile. (True believers would not exempt Israel from the term, insofar as the world is unredeemed and the idea is that this lack of redemption stems from God or the world being in exile from its truer state.) I think the world view that separates Israel from world Jewry outside of Israel is certainly apt at this time of Jewish sovereignty in Israel and the resulting actions of militarism, conflict and occupation. In other words I get your point regarding home versus diaspora as being denigrating to nonIsraeli Jews, but differentiating the two groups requires some term and Diaspora or Golus are the two traditional terms for those outside of Israel. If you want to unseat these terms you’ll have to offer some new word or be satisfied to be merely a critic.

      • MRW
        June 29, 2015, 12:05 am

        Traditionally world Jewry outside of Israel was referred to as the Golus, or the Galut, meaning the exile.

        Since 1948, you mean. Because Israel didn’t exist before then.

      • yonah fredman
        June 29, 2015, 1:29 am

        Okay, MRW, for you: outside of Palestine, but to correct an anachronism: outside of Eretz Israel rather than outside of the state of Israel.

      • piotr
        June 29, 2015, 12:00 pm

        I distinctly remember the phrase “Odessa, the star of our exile” from Odessa Tales, written by Isaac Babel in 1920-ties. And in the narrative, the phrase was spoken as a typical thing than an old Jew would say at the very beginning of XX century.

        The problem is that it was Zionist invention that Galut is juxtaposed with Aliyah, and the former are “down there”, while the latter “up here”. In that mode of thinking, Galut makes sense only to the degree that it plans Aliyah and in the meantime gives full support and deference to Israel. Amazingly, this point of view was largely (but never universally) accepted by “Galut”, and this happened quite gradually.

        However, among the “elevated Jews” of Israel a competition ensued who is a better Jew, or more Jewish, or more elevated etc. This competition also exists in USA, but unlike in Israel, it encounters a certain friction and limitations. Oren cannot comprehend that a Jew could refrain from the chance of ever greater commitment to Israel and ever more slavish deference to “democratic choices in Israel” unless having some abnormal, ulterior reasons.

        This inability suggests that he was never a serious historian. But who needs a serious historian? It does not increase book sales, academic prospects etc. Most rewards go to folks who follow the “dominant narrative”, even if it is tribalist, triumphalist, self-pitying and, above all, hostile to attempts at an objective perspective.

      • lysias
        July 1, 2015, 3:18 pm

        Oren’s new book makes it clear that his book on the 1967 war, Six Days of War, was originally conceived to show that Israel was not the aggressor in that war. In order to write the book, he got financial support, he says, from the Shalem Center. So even his first and most famous book was the opposite of dispassionate scholarship. His next book,Power Faith, and Fantasy: America in the Middle East from 1776 to the Present, a history of the history of the United States in the Middle East, was meant to show “the essential tie between the idea of America and the concept of a Jewish state.” (Sorry, I’m reading the book on Kindle, and so cannot give page references.) Again, more propaganda than dispassionate history.

    • John O
      June 28, 2015, 5:09 pm

      You make a very good point, @Krauss.

      As someone born in England to Irish parents (and currently holding an Irish passport – which may come in handy if the English nationalists succeed in persuading their compatriots to leave the European Union), I was surprised in the wake of the Berkeley disaster to discover that Ireland has a minister for diaspora affairs (or some such).

      I may be wrong, but a “diaspora” seems to me to be a modern, and anachronistic, notion that serves only to keep old wounds open that should long ago have healed.

      I have never felt myself to be part of an Irish “diaspora”, and have never for one moment felt towards the people with whom I share my country “you did this to me”.

      • echinococcus
        June 28, 2015, 8:26 pm

        Diaspora a modern notion? Hardly. The term dates from a time when the Greek cities were very actively colonizing all over the Mediterranean (1000-800bc?) Sowing about.

      • Elliot
        June 29, 2015, 10:45 pm

        Piotr: “Amazingly, this point of view was largely (but never universally) accepted by “Galut”, and this happened quite gradually.”

        There is a precedent for this. One historian quipped that “Gentile” is the only time in history that an overwhelming majority accepted the name given to it by a very small minority.

      • RoHa
        June 30, 2015, 1:32 am

        “One historian quipped that “Gentile” is the only time in history that an overwhelming majority accepted the name given to it by a very small minority.”

        But only when it is needed to contrast with Jews. We don’t go round thinking “I’m a Gentile” or worrying about our Gentile identity.

      • lysias
        July 1, 2015, 3:25 pm

        The use of the word “diaspora” in its current sense seems not to have begun in Greek until the Septuagint, the Hellenistic translation into Greek of the Old Testament. I would hazard the guess that, where the Septuagint uses the word in its current sense, it is translating some Hebrew term. http://blog.dictionary.com/diaspora/

    • Elliot
      June 28, 2015, 9:25 pm

      Thanks, Krauss. Michael Oren chose to leave his homeland in the U.S. and join the America Jewish diaspora in Israel. Given how recently Jews left their ancient homelands in Europe and the Middle East to settlethe Israeli frontier, the whole country rates as today’s Jewish Diaspora.
      As for Yonah’s metaphysics, Israel is in deeper Golus than any other Jewish community today.

      • yonah fredman
        June 29, 2015, 12:01 am

        Elliot- Israel is not my birthplace, nor my birthright, but the displacement created by the tumult in Europe should not be minimized.
        Americans who have a distant relationship with their origins, roots, be they place, ethnicity or religion are certainly lucky in one way. There is only one direction: Forward.
        Not everyone was raised with the amnesia favored by America’s founding fathers. Since I live in Brooklyn, where so many are more recent immigrants to America’s shores, I am practically a Mayflower American (having arrived in the bodies of my grandparents in 1923, ’25, 41 and 41) and thus my inclination towards roots is not against the grain of most of my Brooklyn neighbors. And when I think of roots, I think of those roots as tattered and uprooted by hate. And thus when confronted with where do I come from, the most recent past presents a rejection rather than a homecoming. Granted that replacing the killing forests on the edge of town that present no welcome with a land in the Middle East at constant war is not a dynamic that you endorse. But to casually mention ancient homelands in Europe without some historic context is to speak unwisely (without the relevant facts).

      • socialconscience
        June 29, 2015, 8:58 am

        Yonah you talk of amnesia and please yourself well with pompous statements imagining that you have some authority on your own people’s history

        One can pretend to have authority and speak with a emotion on a topic but that authority becomes redundant when your argument is morally corrupt….

        However since you’ve managed to avoid such amnesia perhaps you can recount well the number of civilians murdered by the Zionist machine with America’s fervent support on recent years?

        don’t forget to include among others, operations:

        cast lead
        pillar of defense
        brothers keeper
        protective edge

        oh yes and lets not omit from consideration:
        collective punishment,
        labelling all Palestinians as terrorists,
        torture,
        apartheid,
        trial of Palestinian civilians including children in military courts and of course the world’s largest open air concentration camp of Gaza

        night arrest of civilians including children for the purpose of interrogatin and intimidation

        the pitiful prinicples used to argue for Zion are utter nonsense and don’t even figure on the same page of relevance as the above reasons against this poisonous colonialist regime

        why is that I hear you ask????

        because these crimes against humanity are occurring in the here and now…..the present….and that makes them more important than this self serving sob story of memories from the old country…

        American Jews have the box seat in world terms in empowering any chance of peace in Israel and the wider middle east…..

        I suggest to you open your eyes and find your morality Yonah

      • just
        June 29, 2015, 9:52 am

        Well said, socialconscience!

        +1 !!!

      • JulianaFarha
        June 29, 2015, 11:48 am

        Spot on, socialconscience.

      • Mooser
        June 29, 2015, 12:26 pm

        “Michael Oren chose to leave his homeland in the U.S. and join the America Jewish diaspora in Israel.”

        Since we’ve been milking a lot of bovine allusions lately, “Bulls-eye” Eliot! “The America Jewish diaspora in Israel” is perfect!

      • Mooser
        June 29, 2015, 12:30 pm

        ” I am practically a Mayflower American (having arrived in the bodies of my grandparents in 1923, ’25, 41 and 41)”

        Good Lord, “Jons” was right about the “sexual differences”! That is one hell of a gestation, Yonah.
        But it’s a good thing you got here before all the African-Americans. You wouldn’t want then taking your place on the (rotflmsjao) “Mayflower”

      • Elisabeth
        July 1, 2015, 3:04 am

        “And thus when confronted with where do I come from, the most recent past presents a rejection rather than a homecoming. ”

        How recent were those ‘killing forests’ Jonah?
        The Nazi’s were beaten a while ago FYI, and Europe is one of the safest places on earth.

      • Froggy
        July 1, 2015, 8:57 am

        Elisabeth : One has to keep one’s eyes on the kids. (By ‘kids’, I mean young adults between the ages of 18 and 28.)

        The kids are on the move over here. They think nothing of travelling across the continent to meet in person someone they met online, or to attend an international match. Travel is relatively cheap. They all have mobile phones, and they all Skype. Most are multilingual to some extent. Most are reasonably well-educated and well-read.

        They are showing us how the future will be.

        Racism is still a problem in some regards, but no one here ‘hates’ Germans, or the Dutch, the Spanish, or anyone else. Though hating the French has become something of a joke, many thousands of Brits still come to France to retire. (Many of the rest retire to Spain, Portugal, Greece, Malta, and Crete, and many other people have second houses on the continent.)

        Kids and older people take jobs that appeal to them, which is how it is that one comes across a café in Prague that is owned and run by two Scots, one of whom is married to a French Armenian and the other to a Greek.

        Nationalities and cultures aren’t disappearing but they are expanding.

        — McDonalds is popular in France, but that hasn’t led to the decline of French cuisine.
        — Indian food is more popular in Scotland than Scottish food.
        — Traditional Irish folk musicians have adopted and adapted the Greek bouzouki for Irish folk music.
        — There is a Breton music group that recorded an entire CD using South American instruments.
        — Many American Jews put up ‘Christmas trees’, but not one American Jew that I ever met has put up a crèche, or taken on the veneration of Christian saints.
        — Bretons love gefilte fish. (That is an understatement!)
        — The haunting theme song for the American film Black Hawk Down is in Breton, using two classic Breton musical forms, the gwerz or lament; and the kan ha diskan or call and return form. (The lead singer is the kaner, and the second singer is the diskaner.)

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BfYJYMmnUh4

        Denez Prigent, the kaner, is a famous Breton singer/songwriter, and he chose as his diskaner Lisa Gerrard, an Australian.

        The world is changing, and we are changing with it.

      • RoHa
        July 1, 2015, 4:11 am

        I didn’t know there was any sort of forest in Brooklyn.

    • Keith
      June 29, 2015, 10:00 pm

      KRAUSS- “I’m not sure if you use the term “diaspora Jews” ironically or not, but I nevertheless wonder how long it must take for people until they finally stop seeing themselves as a “diaspora”.

      Let us begin by noting that the concept of “Diaspora” is part of the social mythology of Classical (medieval) Judaism, Jewish Zionism, and any other Jewish group that chooses to see itself as separate from a non-Jewish host community. It is a community based belief in apartness which can continue as long as the Jewish elites are able to maintain this particular belief system. Truly assimilated Jews do not consider themselves to be a wandering Diaspora, however, may go along with the traditional usage. Jewish Zionism seeks to oppose complete assimilation of Jews into the host non-Jewish community and to maintain a distinct Jewish community (tribe).

  2. just
    June 28, 2015, 3:28 pm

    Thanks, Phil.

    I think that Michael Oren has done the Israel/US relationship a big favor. Sorry that so many people feel hurt and/or angry, but shaking things up is not always a bad thing. Complacency and stagnation can be a very bad thing.

    “Ali Gharib at the Nation says that Oren’s book signals the end of liberal Zionism. ”

    I certainly hope so!

  3. Donald
    June 28, 2015, 3:47 pm

    Gotta give credit to Wieseltier–that last sentence about the Metropolitan Club was pretty damn funny.

    I was impressed by Ali Gharib–he needs to be in the MSM when this subject is discussed. Not likely, of course.

    Though that brings me to the negative side of all this–one of the effects of having someone like Friedman be attacked is that it enhances their credentials in the press. I’ve heard people in real life describe Friedman as pro-Palestinian, which is delusional, but the reason people think that is because some on the Zionist right hate the liberal Zionists–as Gharib says, they seem to dislike them almost more than they dislike the Palestinians, which is probably an exaggeration, but not by much. The spectrum of debate in the MSM in the U.S. goes from rightwing Zionist to liberal Zionist and not even very liberal Zionist, but just people like Friedman, except in a few places like the New York Review of Books, where they run pieces by Shulman ( who is very critical of Israeli behavior, to the point where I don’t know what his ideological stance is).

  4. Brewer
    June 28, 2015, 4:09 pm

    “sadly shifted from measured historian to breathless polemicist ”

    No shift. Never was “measured Historian”, ask Norm:

    It would seem that Oren’s main achievement is lending a scholarly veneer to, as it were, the Abba Eban version of the June war. To reconcile the historical record with this apologetic narrative he resorts to several distinct, if overlapping, procedures:

    attaching equal weight to a public statement (or memoir) and the hard evidence of an internal document contradicting it
    burying in an avalanche of dubious evidence a crucial counter-finding
    minimizing, misrepresenting, or suppressing a crucial piece of evidence

    In the ensuing pages, I will illustrate how Oren skews the historical record of the June war by deploying these techniques.

    http://www.ussliberty.org/orenbook.htm

    • Philip Weiss
      June 28, 2015, 4:55 pm

      I agree with Norm. It’s sad that these critics of Oren need to create a noble backstory: great historian. He wasn’t. His discussion of the Balfour Declaration as the promptings of Wilson’s Presbyterian soul are foolish. There was an Israel lobby then, and now; and he denies its existence, because it would mean giving up his game.

    • JLewisDickerson
      June 28, 2015, 5:32 pm

      Abba Eban with Footnotes

      Michael Oren’s Six Days of War: June 1967 and the Making of the Modern Middle East

      Reviewed by Norman Finkelstein

      LINK – http://www.ussliberty.org/orenbook.htm

    • JWalters
      June 29, 2015, 3:31 am

      Phil, spot on. Once the founding myth is gone, it comes down to intellectual honesty vs “my religious fanatics right or wrong”. Israeli founder Uri Avnery debunks founding myths here
      https://consortiumnews.com/2015/01/03/israeli-founder-contests-founding-myths/

      Regarding current myths, does Haim Saban keep a suitcase packed for a quick flight to Israel in case Los Angeles’ non-Jews riot against its Jews? Or is he more focused on his cut of Israel’s crime profits?

  5. Citizen
    June 28, 2015, 4:56 pm

    Pretty amazing to this mere Gentile American from the working class, this accusation that Jews in the US main media and influential parts of the US government–are too biased against Israel and its policies and conduct. Next thing, somebody speaking for Israel will be making such accusations against the tiny segment of the US Congress speaking up for Palestinian children or against those illegal Israeli settlements. Wonder who the first influential American will be who calls publicly for cutting off aid to Israel until it stops its lebensraum policy? This won’t happen, so there’s the real state of affairs, whether you are talking about Jewish Americans or Gentile Americans–you know, the 98%?

  6. JLewisDickerson
    June 28, 2015, 5:14 pm

    RE: “Universalist White House seders”! A lot of Jews will read that and think, What an asshole!” ~ Weiss

    MY COMMENT: It’s not just Jews who will think that! ! !

    • just
      June 28, 2015, 5:24 pm

      “Maybe that was why so many of them supported Obama, with his preference for soft power, his Universalist White House seders, and aversion to tribes.”

      Is inclusion anathema to Oren? Is “soft power” also to be ridiculed? Are “tribes” that important to Oren?

      Is he representative of the average Jewish Israeli?

  7. Irfan
    June 28, 2015, 5:24 pm

    I had to chuckle at the “Universalist seder” comment. Oren’s mother, Marilyn Bornstein, was my second-grade teacher at St Cloud Elementary School in West Orange, New Jersey during the 1970s. She used to have this contest whereby any student who read 100 books during the school year could come to the Bornstein home for dinner. It was considered a great honor.

    Well here I was, a little Muslim kid who’d read 100 books– the first kid that year to be invited to Mrs Bornstein’s house. As it happens, I went on a Friday night, and the Bornsteins were observant. It wasn’t a Universalist seder; it was an inter-denominational sabbath. I still remember it. We had chicken for dinner, and chocolate cake for dessert. It was a great night. I wonder what Michael would have said if he’d been there. I’m glad he wasn’t.

    He was at college–at Columbia, I guess. After dinner, Mrs Bornstein showed me his room, filled with books. “This is my son Michael’s room,” she told me with great pride. “He’s a genius, and someday he’ll be a great man.”

    I was greatly impressed with that at the time. A little skeptical now.

    • just
      June 28, 2015, 7:35 pm

      What an incredible story, Irfan! Mrs.Bornstein sounds like a great teacher. Coincidentally, my second grade teacher also supported and encouraged my wild reading habit and I won an award that year as well.

      Thank you so much for sharing it~ it’s precious!!!

      • Irfan
        June 29, 2015, 8:10 am

        Thanks. One more mini-story: my father worked in the ER at Beth Israel Hospital in Newark in the 1970s; the ER there is named after Lester Bornstein, Michael Oren’s father. Small world.

        What always gets me about Oren’s story is the double standard it raises re “assimilation.” The great anxious fear of “native” Americans of a certain sort is that immigrants are a problem because they refuse to “assimilate.”

        Along comes Oren, whose great trick is to adopt a sort of Americanized anti-assimilationism: he’s recognizably American in speech and demeanor, but he physically left the country, renounced his citizenship, rejected its most distinctive constitutional norms, and has now made a career out of spleen-venting polemics aimed at Americans skeptical of Zionism and/or Israel.

        If I did for Pakistan what Oren did for Israel, people would regard me as a traitor to the United States, e.g., move there, change my name, renounce my citizenship, join the military, fight the Indians at Kargil, serve as a spokesperson for the Pakistan Army, oppose human rights inquiries into the alleged human rights violations by the Pakistani government, describe reformers at home as “a unique problem,” and make Pakistani nationalism my life’s creed (attacking critics of that creed as racists). The taint of those actions would follow me like a cloud for the rest of my days.

        By contrast, when Michael Oren does it for Israel, he’s on the receiving end of adulation and awe for decades. What is it that stops the forward momentum of the Oren juggernaut? He writes a book that attacks Leon Wieseltier. That’s the red line you can’t cross in America–making Leon Wieseltier mad. Pathetic that the need to defend Leon Wieseltier’s reputation is our culture’s substitute for a sense of principle, but c’est la vie.

      • Annie Robbins
        June 29, 2015, 8:47 am

        really interesting irfan. i’ve been chewing on some homegrown (unprofessional) psychological analysis of oren myself lately, i guess i feel entitled to since he’s written his book. so much grist for the mill in his upbringing.

        it’s a sorry state in our country where there’s such a gross imbalance in a national response to the kinds of actions he’s taken. traitor indeed. it says more about our national psyche than it says about him.

      • Annie Robbins
        June 29, 2015, 9:09 am

        What is it that stops the forward momentum of the Oren juggernaut?

        i keep saying i think israelis are brainwashed and i don’t mean that metaphorically. i really think oren is an example of that. i think they (lots of them anyway — not all) are so pumped up on hasbara (in a steroid kind of way) they’ve confused it for actual truth (or nutrition). and that pattern or habit leads the mind to not be able to distinguish fact from fiction.

        so, perhaps he’s so pumped up in these zionist (or jewish?) myths or beliefs (about assimilation?) that he shoots for the stars and exposes all the craziness it entails.

        i always thought him identifying himself as an historian was propaganda. because his sort of “history” is more like fable-making or leon uris pseudo historical fiction or something. and i think the pseudo psychological analysis in his new book reveals his penchant for making those same kinds of leaps and bounds, in his pseudo history as well. there’s a possibility the exposure could stop the juggernaut, we can hope anyway. not sure how he can climb down from this pedestal he’s placed himself on.

      • just
        June 29, 2015, 9:17 am

        “Along comes Oren, whose great trick is to adopt a sort of Americanized anti-assimilationism: he’s recognizably American in speech and demeanor, but he physically left the country, renounced his citizenship, rejected its most distinctive constitutional norms, and has now made a career out of spleen-venting polemics aimed at Americans skeptical of Zionism and/or Israel.”

        Exactly, Irfan. And, he’s not the first to do so. There are many Americans who’ve chosen Israel over their own country~ in words, in deeds, in allegiance. If I think about it, I can only come up with one that has been repudiated in any way, and his name is Pollard. Others are fêted by those occupying the highest levels of US government.

        “Pathetic that the need to defend Leon Wieseltier’s reputation is our culture’s substitute for a sense of principle, but c’est la vie.”

        So well said! It’s both pathetic and a horror show. Thank you, Irfan.

        “it says more about our national psyche than it says about him.”

        Yes it does, Annie. There are unwell, incurious, and massively hypocritical characteristics to this “national psyche”.

      • Annie Robbins
        June 29, 2015, 9:29 am

        just, it’s not surprising if oren is blind to how out of bounds he’s gone, if he’s indeed as brainwashed as i think he is (he probably believes this stuff he’s writing, although i absolutely believe there’s an abundance of hoodwinking/lying in the hasbara community) but for the country (US – mainstream) to be so indoctrinated into a zionist mindthink to not recognize how traitorous he is, that’s what’s really freaky. but indications are people are not buying it.

      • just
        June 29, 2015, 10:00 am

        I think that Oren wants to be the next PM, Annie.

        I really do. Outrageous sells well among Zionists.

      • Annie Robbins
        June 29, 2015, 10:07 am

        ;) bring it on. lol. almost nothing about israeli society would surprise me anymore. imho, he’s completely un presidential (and completely lacking in charisma, brains aside). it’s almost unfathomable he could muster that much support or influence in israel – or anywhere for that matter.

      • just
        June 29, 2015, 10:21 am

        iow, much like Netanyahu, without the signature sneer.

        The camera loves him, though. He’s hornswoggled the MSM/American viewers quite well.

      • Irfan
        June 29, 2015, 11:43 am

        I agree with Just that Oren seems to be positioning himself to become PM. If he does, he’ll become the second Israeli PM with intellectual ties of some sort to the Shalem Center. Netanyahu was the first: one of Netanyahu’s adviser’s at Madrid was Yoram Hazony, the founder of the SC. Oren was a fellow at the SC for several years.

        I’m not in favor of an indiscriminate academic boycott of Israeli institutions, but if I had to put one institution on a blacklist, I’d put Shalem and its various affiliates, including the College, on it. The latter’s slogan ought to be: “Shalem College: Education for the Occupation.” But they’re rapidly being normalized, here and in the US.

        To me, the most obvious examples of Americans who’ve chosen Israel over the country of their birth are the Israeli Americans in the IDF–ordinary American suburbanites with a gun, a uniform, and a sense of holy mission, staffing checkpoints and stomping (or cruising) around the West Bank. Every now and then you’ll encounter one at a checkpoint or blocking the road or something. “Shalom!” they’ll say to you in a bright American accent. I always want to ask, “What the hell are you doing here?” But I also want to get through the checkpoint. So I hand over my passport and keep quiet. (“I need to see your visa, too!”)

        So: American accent, American gun, American ammunition–Israeli uniform, Israeli orders, Israeli checkpoint. A cosmopolitan package deal paid for by the American taxpayer.

        You can tell I’m going checkpoint hopping tomorrow. I’m already irritated.

      • just
        June 29, 2015, 12:06 pm

        “So: American accent, American gun, American ammunition–Israeli uniform, Israeli orders, Israeli checkpoint. A cosmopolitan package deal paid for by the American taxpayer.

        You can tell I’m going checkpoint hopping tomorrow. I’m already irritated.”

        Succinct. I wish more Americans paid attention…

        As for the Shalem Center, I agree with you about blacklisting it. From wiki:

        “The Shalem Center (Hebrew: מרכז שלם‎, Merkaz Shalem) was a Jerusalem research institute that supported academic work in the fields of philosophy, political theory, Jewish and Zionist history, Bible and Talmud, Middle East Studies, archaeology, economics, and strategic studies. Haaretz newspaper characterised it as “a research facility identified with the Zionist right wing and with American neoconservatives”, founded by a small group of former Princeton University students.

        In its mission statement the Center wrote that “It seems that the entire Jewish people is suffering from an identity crisis”, making its purpose to “provide a proper response to these processes”.[1] Due to the prestige the center was able to acquire, with time renowned academics of different political orientation have joined the ranks of its faculty.[1]

        The center became Shalem College in January 2013, when it received accreditation from the Council of Higher Education to offer Bachelor’s degrees.[1]”

        (Sharansky & Ya’alon are past fellows, too.)

        Irfan~ thank you so much for your rich and thoughtful comments here. I took advantage of the link to your blog, and found that (no surprise) you’re a professor! I also note that it appears that you are presently “teaching political philosophy at Al Quds University in Abu Dis, Palestine (aka “the West Bank”).” Lucky students and lucky you!

        Please come around here often~ when you’re not teaching or “checkpoint hopping”. Your perspective is important and instructive.

        ;-)

      • Mooser
        June 29, 2015, 12:42 pm

        Does it ever occur to anybody that “assimilation” is a two-way street?

        Has there ever been a question of Jews “assimilating” in the US? They have always been “assimilated” into the definition of “people” and “citizens” since they got here (Others have not been so fortunate).

        Now, how much social or religious isolation a Jew or even Jewish “community” wishes to enjoy, (if they enjoy that) is up to them. But I don’t think the “assimilation” is up to us.
        And it is pretty artificial, and extremely dangerous, to pretend that Jewish “assimilation” is a choice we make, not, for the most part, made for us by others.

        Would anybody like to point out a community of “un-assimilated” Jews in the US? Could they even do that if they wanted to, opt out of US citizen ship?

      • Mooser
        June 29, 2015, 2:18 pm

        “Irfan~ thank you so much for your rich and thoughtful comments here”

        Yes!

      • JWalters
        June 29, 2015, 7:14 pm

        There are strong parallels between Oren’s mindset and the remnants of American slavery’s racism, exemplified by the recent Charleston church massacre. A solid commentary on that mindset is in “Confronting Southern ‘Victimhood'”.
        https://consortiumnews.com/2015/06/29/confronting-southern-victimhood/

      • Donald
        June 29, 2015, 11:11 pm

        “If I did for Pakistan what Oren did for Israel, people would regard me as a traitor to the United States, e.g., move there, change my name, renounce my citizenship, join the military, fight the Indians at Kargil, serve as a spokesperson for the Pakistan Army, oppose human rights inquiries into the alleged human rights violations by the Pakistani government, describe reformers at home as “a unique problem,” and make Pakistani nationalism my life’s creed (attacking critics of that creed as racists). The taint of those actions would follow me like a cloud for the rest of my days.

        By contrast, when Michael Oren does it for Israel, he’s on the receiving end of adulation and awe for decades.”

        Just wanted to say this was a really fascinating comment. Your whole subthread here was great. It ought to be a front page post.

      • Sibiriak
        June 30, 2015, 3:52 am

        Donald: “Just wanted to say this was a really fascinating comment. Your whole subthread here was great. It ought to be a front page post.”

        ———–

        I second that; not only fascinating, thought-provoking and cogent, but very well-written as well.

      • Mooser
        June 30, 2015, 12:29 pm

        You know, I gotta wonder, all those who rail against “assimilation” of Jews; okay, let’s say they got their wish, and the US made Jewish assimilation extremely difficult. Separate citizenship for Jews, or fraction of citizenship, proscriptions on certain occupations, restricted travel, discrimination in public services and accommodations and no civil service jobs without conversion. No service in the military! All of those are well within the practices of places that have made Jewish assimilation difficult.
        Would they then say “Isn’t life grand for us in the USA, what a great arrangement”? I doubt it.

  8. Shingo
    June 28, 2015, 6:45 pm

    Phill,

    You left out Aaron David Miller’s criticism too, which is also pretty scathing.

    http://foreignpolicy.com/2015/06/24/a-misunderstanding-of-principles-michael-oren-israel/

    • Annie Robbins
      June 29, 2015, 9:50 am

      shingo, miller:

      Oren opines that the first principle of the U.S.-Israeli alliance that Obama has forsaken is that while both parties could disagree, they would not do so publicly.

      who thought up this “first principle” and who does it serve? is it a demand from israel? i recall first reading about it a few years ago, i think it was after biden blew up and clinton publicly criticized netanyahu when some new settlements were rolled out during biden’s visit to israel. all these pundits came down on the admin and screamed ‘how could you be so vocal’ and chastized the admin for not keeping it behind closed doors. what bs. closed doors just means don’t tell the public.

      and this principle of ‘no surprises’, since when does israel warn the US it’s rolling out new settlement expansion?

      maybe i’m wrong but it seems to me both these principles are israeli demands. or does the US also demand israel run everything past them first?

      more from miller:

      I remember an impatient Saeb Erekat, then-chief Palestinian negotiator, during both the Wye and Camp David summits in 1998 and 2000, asking me why we hadn’t given the Palestinians our proposals, while knowing full well we were waiting for the Israelis to review and react first.

      why is the US waiting in the wings, ever? or ever-chasing after the impudent child.

      • michtom
        June 29, 2015, 10:39 am

        This ‘first principle’ is along the lines of the Republican 11th commandment popularized by Reagan in the ’60s: Thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican.

        But, more importantly, it derives from “Not in front of the goyim!”

  9. jayn0t
    June 28, 2015, 6:48 pm

    “The presence of so many Jews in print and onscreen rarely translates into support for Israel” says Oren. This statement is obviously false, but it is useful to Zionism. It makes it look as if the critical support for the ethnic cleansing of Palestine, which is fairly common among American Jews, and universal among US politicians, isn’t support for ethnic cleansing at all. It makes liberal Zionists and crypto-Zionists like like opponents of Zionism.

  10. echinococcus
    June 28, 2015, 8:32 pm

    Therefore the liberal Zionists should move into the BDS camp.

    Gharib must feel suicidal, as also whoever welcomes the strange idea.

    They already have started moving, with disastrous results for the Palestine solidarity movement and the boycott itself.

  11. Shingo
    June 28, 2015, 8:51 pm

    Given what a train wreck this book has become, one has to wonder if being tone deaf and out of touch with reality is a side effect of Zionism. Even from within the bubble of the Beltway, it is unimaginable that Oren could have been so immune to the cracks in the pro Israeli facade and the chasm dividing Israel from the US public, if not the rest of the world.

    Now that he had entered politics, Oren has clearly entered the realm of pandering to the right wing constituents of the Likud Coalition and abandoned all reason for political expediency.

    • jayn0t
      June 28, 2015, 9:19 pm

      That Oren is “out of touch with reality” doesn’t matter.

      “within the bubble of the Beltway” is more important than “the US public” and “the rest of the world”, because the Beltway controls the USA.

      “entered the realm of pandering to the right wing constituents of the Likud Coalition” – the only pandering going on is US pandering to Israel and its supporters.

  12. Shmuel
    June 29, 2015, 2:03 am

    Acceptable reasons for disagreeing with Michael Oren:
    1. You don’t understand.
    2. You are prejudiced.
    3. You are nuts.

    Breakfast at the Orens’ must be a joy.

  13. bryan
    June 29, 2015, 3:33 am

    Has Oren provided Exhibit A in Rivlin’s case for prosecuting Israeli society’s sickness?

    I was struck by how much more appropriate Eisner’s prescription is to Israel rather than America especially the necessity to “favor diplomacy over military action because the latter hasn’t worked out so well for us lately. And because we have myriad problems at home to address — problems like income inequality, persistent racism, assaults on free speech and reproductive rights, environmental degradation, a broken immigration system. The stuff Jews care about. A lot”. The fact that very few of these issues get any airing in Israeli politics (and indeed all seem to be steadily worsening) surely brings into question the Jewishness of the Zionist project.

  14. WH
    June 29, 2015, 3:39 am

    The notion that being at all critical of Israel is somehow career-enhancing for US journalists is so absurd that I wonder whether Oren seriously believes it, or is simply using it as a very weak pretext to attack people he resents. There is no shortage of journalists (especially in TV) who got into career-threatening and in some cases career-damaging trouble because of criticising Israel, just like politicians who didn’t yet have a secure foothold on a power base (ask Cynthia McKinney, or ask MJ Rosenberg about the AIPAC dossiers).

  15. eGuard
    June 29, 2015, 6:59 am

    Don’t forget: singling out Jews, journalists this time, and so having to do his dance is anti-Semitic.

    Here’s another one: https://twitter.com/rupertmurdoch/status/269973016753102849

  16. RobertHenryEller
    June 29, 2015, 7:34 am

    Israel is a Zionist state, not a Jewish state.

    Jews obey the Ten Commandments. Jews do not like, steal or murder. Jews practice Rabbi Hillel’s Golden Rule.

    If there are any Jews is Israel, they are certainly not running the country.

    • socialconscience
      June 29, 2015, 8:24 am

      RobertHenryEller how true!

      after having my head spun from reading the above comments and trying to get my head around all the complex observations and word weaving, your comment seems like genius…

      Zionism and it’s underpinning violent industrial military complex (they only system truly maintaining Israel’s grip on anything approaching control of Palestine) is the word to summarise this modern day ‘ApartheidoNazism’

      Judaism has long been dropped at heel and used as the political football……

      The only thing more shameful than this product of mass deceit and wider public apathy is the grossly under reported self serving support of Americans’ tax dollars and it’s elected representatives….

  17. ckg
    June 29, 2015, 9:37 am

    Another relevant review of Oren’s book is by Eric H. Yoffie, a former rabbi and president of the Union for Reform Judaism: “Michael Oren’s contempt for U.S. Jews”, in Haaretz.

  18. Kay24
    June 29, 2015, 10:19 am

    It makes you wonder just who will be interested in buying this book which should be categorized and shelved under the “fiction” section of any bookstore (the few ones remaining).

    Apparently Oren has disdain for American Jews:

    “Michael Oren’s contempt for U.S. Jews
    Far from the genuine respect you would expect from a former Israeli ambassador, Oren seems to view America’s Jews as unreliable and quick to criticize the Jewish state.”

    Haaretz

    When these zionist realize folks are not buying their narratives nor supporting their crimes, they begin to have “disdain” for them.

  19. lysias
    June 29, 2015, 10:50 am

    RT: Israel intercepts & escorts Gaza flotilla flagship, RT columnist aboard:

    Contact has been lost with the Swedish boat Marianne, which had been leading the Gaza-bound Freedom Flotilla, after other boats turned back. The IDF announced that they intercepted and searched the vessel which had tried to “breach the maritime blockade.”

    RT’s Nadezhda Kevorkova who is on board the Marianne, the flotilla’s flagship, said by phone that a military helicopter had been flying above the flotilla as well as an unknown military plane “flying very low above the water” near the activists’ vessels.

    According to RT, the Israeli Navy boarded and occupied the boat 100 nautical miles from its destination, Gaza. Which means that this happened in international waters and was an act of piracy (like the seizure of the Mavi Marmara a couple of years ago).

  20. michtom
    June 29, 2015, 10:57 am

    Some reactions: “the U.S. ambassador to Israel protested to Netanyahu, asking him to distance himself from Oren’s accusation. But in another sign of how toxic relations have grown, Netanyahu refused.”

    Toxic would be threatening to cut off military aid to Israel. Everything else is just PR.

    “Saved several struggling pundits from obscurity.”
    In the case of Tom ‘The Unit’ Friedman, if only he were in danger of obscurity.

    It has always seemed to me that being a Jew should be based on the ethical statements from the Seder: We should think of ourselves as having personally come out of slavery; no one is free unless everyone is free; Jews have an obligation to work for that universal freedom.

    And, based on that, Zionism can’t be Jewish.

    • Froggy
      June 29, 2015, 12:56 pm

      michtom : “We should think of ourselves as having personally come out of slavery; no one is free unless everyone is free; Jews have an obligation to work for that universal freedom.”

      Tikun Olam.

  21. Vera Gottlieb
    June 29, 2015, 11:49 am

    Are Zionists really than dumb that all seem to copy their arguments from the same book? ‘Self-hating Jews’…how many times have I read this. And those Germans fighting against Hitler…self-hating Germans???

  22. broadside
    June 29, 2015, 1:34 pm

    The Forward’s Eisner: “… but that image serves as a powerful acknowledgement that our religious tradition is on equal footing with the Christianity that once dominated America.”

    Yes. And Hanukkah is the equivalent of Christmas, unfortunately –perhaps the biggest danger facing Jews in America.

  23. just
    June 29, 2015, 1:46 pm

    Another coup de grâce for US security and justice from the treacherous bipartisanly Israel- first, US Senate:

    “Letter signed by 22 senators urges Obama to support Israel
    Letter asks administration to oppose Palestinian efforts for membership in UN and other international bodies.

    Nearly one-quarter of the U.S. Senate signed on to a bipartisan letter urging President Barack Obama to support Israel around the world.

    Twenty-two senators signed the letter, which was written “in response to your welcomed recent remarks at Congregation Adas Israel” on May 22 concerning his commitment to Israel’s security. The letter was sponsored by Sens. Mike Rounds, R-S.D., and Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y.

    While welcoming Obama’s “unwavering commitment” to Israel’s security, the signers also want the Obama administration to remain committed to the United States’ “long-standing policy” of negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians as the way to peace.

    The letter specifically asked the administration to oppose Palestinian efforts for membership in the United Nations and other international bodies.

    Among the signers are five Jewish Democrats: Ben Cardin of Maryland, Barbara Boxer of California, Ron Wyden of Oregon, Charles Schumer of New York and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut.

    The signers wrote that they were “deeply concerned by previously reported and unattributed comments by U.S. officials that the U.S. might change its approach to the peace process at the United Nations Security Council.” …”

    http://www.haaretz.com/news/world/1.663590?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter

    I hope that Mr. Obama’s overflowing trashcan in the Oval Office has room for one more piece of junk.

    • traintosiberia
      June 29, 2015, 11:40 pm

      More is on the way

      “” Sometimes, however, that cautious statesmanship seems to doom those best intentions to the trash heap of chaos. In this case, that chaos might be triggered by the barely contained secret that the United States will not only renew its defense aid agreement with Israel when it expires in 2017, but that it will likely be INCREASED significantly beyond its current three billion USD. The posturing and denial swirling around this poorly concealed secret is almost fodder for a tragic comedy: no one is willing to admit this is meant to be a ‘kiss and make-up’ defense deal to put Israel more at ease with the Americans engaging Iran. Netanyahu himself staunchly declares that even if a new deal is reached and for significantly more money that it will still not change Israel’s overall opposition to American engagement with Iran. In other words, the U.S. is going to give more money and weapons to an irritated Israel in order to keep it ‘calm’ about allowing Iran the chance to dabble with nuclear energy. Iran, of course, is not going to be blind to this development. From its side it will no doubt see its own international agreement as trying to constrain its ‘national defense sovereignty’ while then watching the Americans follow it with another with Israel that will subsequently arm it to the teeth, with an anticipation and expectation of Iranian misbehavior. Saudi Arabia will undoubtedly clamor onto Israel’s coattails to also gain new advantages and ‘cooperation.’ Keep in mind this current situation emerges from the ‘positive’ diplomacy of engaging Iran, with the intention to prevent it from developing nuclear weapons capability and making it more responsibly tied to the global community.”By Professor M Crosston. http://journal-neo.org/2015/06/04/hammer-and-nail-spinning-war-from-peace-in-iran-s-nuke-deal/

    • broadside
      June 30, 2015, 11:32 am

      “The letter was sponsored by Sens. Mike Rounds, R-S.D., and Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y.”

      I always get a kick out of who “sponsors” these junk pieces of legislation. Is it done at random? A bidding process? (“Who wants gum?” “I do! I do!”)

  24. just
    June 29, 2015, 3:07 pm

    “Obama’s ‘malice’ towards Israel is useful scapegoat for Netanyahu’s failures
    There’s a good reason why the prime minister refused to distance himself from Michael Oren’s views: He agrees with them.

    Earlier this month, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rebuffed U.S. Ambassador Dan Shapiro’s request to publicly dissociate himself from Michael Oren’s harsh attacks on Barack Obama. Netanyahu reportedly said that that Oren wrote his book ALLY in a private capacity and was not a member of his Likud party. The real reason for the prime minister’s demurral, however, is probably much more straightforward: He concurs with Oren’s diagnosis of Obama’s inherent malevolence towards Israel. …

    … Most of them, however, do not subscribe to the view that is so widely prevalent in right wing/Republican circles of American Jewry that Obama harbors an overarching animosity towards Israel, that he basically has it in for the Jewish state: In their eyes, Obama’s extraordinary record of diplomatic and security assistance renders that notion ridiculous. Nor do they believe, as Oren asserts, that Obama should bear most if not all of the blame for the breakdown of trust between the two leaders: Anyone who has read newspapers during the last six years knows that such a theory beggars belief. …

    … Oren, at least, seems to believe that exposing Obama’s sinister designs can help the Israeli campaign against the Iran deal: He has said that he pressured Random House to bring up the publication date to June, rather than September-October. It would not be a stretch to believe that he coordinated his timing with Netanyahu, but the only proof so far for such collaboration is circumstantial: It will probably backfire, like most of Netanyahu’s ploys. So far, Oren’s reputation seems to have sustained heavier damage than Obama’s.

    For Netanyahu, however, the talk of Obama’s ingrained malice serves a much more fundamental purpose: It can help to explain his own failures, to himself as well as to others. After all, Netanyahu has repeatedly described his campaign against Iran as the single most important mission in his life: He must now prepare to defend his possible failure to prevent an agreement that he believes is a disaster for Israel, as well as the ensuing rapprochement between Washington and Tehran that he has long railed against.

    This is the same Netanyahu who has long prided himself on his intimate knowledge of America and his great sway over its public. How can he justify the fact that he has had such little impact on the formulation of American policy under Obama? How can he refute accusations that his refusal to show flexibility on Israeli-Palestinian diplomacy left him with no bargaining chips to play? How can he negate the claim that his support for Obama’s Republican rivals undercut his ability to influence the White House on what he describes as Israel’s greatest existential challenge? Indeed, how can Michael Oren exonerate himself of responsibility for the role he played in this fundamental fiasco?

    There is only one sure escape route from the dead end: It’s called scapegoating. “A person who is blamed for the wrongdoings, mistakes, or faults of others, especially for reasons of expediency,” as the Oxford Dictionary writes. “Scapegoating serves as an opportunity to explain failure or misdeeds, while maintaining one’s positive self-image,” as the Psychology Dictionary observes.

    Obama’s pre-programmed evil designs are Netanyahu’s scapegoat. If Obama’s wish to ingratiate himself with Muslims at Israel’s expense is ingrained and immutable, then Netanyahu’s tactics over the past six years cannot be faulted. Even if he would have compromised on the Palestinians and turned his back on Republicans, the results would have been exactly the same. His relations with the White House would be shot, and his standing among Obama-led Democrats would be shattered. He did what he could, but his efforts were doomed from the outset. …

    …But there is a difference between simply trying to deflect blame and scapegoating: the success of the latter is usually reliant on the existence of prior prejudice. Interestingly, Oren makes just such a connection when he asserts that “pathological” criticism of Netanyahu, especially by American Jewish journalists, “resembled that traditionally triggered by the Jews.”

    This claim, especially when it is ascribed to Jewish writers and journalists, is one of Oren’s more preposterous, but it does bring to mind another psychological phenomenon called projection: “a theory in psychology in which humans defend themselves against unpleasant impulses by denying their existence in themselves, while attributing them to others.”

    http://www.haaretz.com/blogs/west-of-eden/.premium-1.663603?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter

    There some innate psychopathology there…

  25. yourstruly
    June 29, 2015, 8:13 pm

    One is either on the side of the slave (oppressed) or the slaveowner (oppressor). This holds no matter one’s nationality, ethnicity, religion, race or gender.

    In Palestine/Israel the Palestinians are the slaves, since it is their homeland that is being occupied (occupying another people’s land is a form of enslavement), which means Jewish Israelis (being that they are the occupiers) are ipso facto the slaveowners.

  26. Edward Q
    June 30, 2015, 4:22 pm

    I wonder how common Oren’s views are among Israelis?

  27. lysias
    June 30, 2015, 4:43 pm

    Max Blumenthal’s new book, The 51 Day War: Ruin and Resistance in Gaza, has just arrived on my Kindle. However, because I am in the midst of reading Oren’s book right now, it will be a few days before I get to the Blumenthal.

    • WH
      July 1, 2015, 3:22 am

      I got it too – I’ll read it once I’ve finished Mohammed Omer’s book on the same topic. I also got a hard copy of Mads Gilbert’s new book, which is sure to choke me up like his last one.

      • lysias
        July 2, 2015, 7:14 pm

        I finished Oren’s book (finally, he really needed an editor,) and so I have at last started to read Max Blumenthal’s The 51-Day War.

    • a blah chick
      July 2, 2015, 8:27 pm

      ” I am in the midst of reading Oren’s book right now”

      As one vet to another you have definitely earned combat pay and a campaign medal for slogging through that dreck.

      • lysias
        July 2, 2015, 9:54 pm

        Did I mention being a vet? (I’m not denying it. In fact, I am a Vietnam Era vet, although I never saw combat, thank God.)

        But it was quite a slog to get through Oren’s book. It was far too long. He needed an editor who would cut it down.

      • lysias
        July 3, 2015, 2:33 pm

        Now I am reading Max Blumenthal’s The 51 Day War. It’s a far better read.

        With quite a shocking chapter on how the violent attacks on left-wing peace demonstrations were organized. Two rap stars encouraged violent behavior by the Israeli thugs.

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