Michael Oren said he put “immense pressure” on Random House to publish his new book, Ally, this month, so he could mobilize American Jews against the coming Iranian deal, and they would intercede as they had failed to do in response to the Nazi threat in the 1930s.
Speaking at the 92nd Y last night, Oren said he resigned as Israel’s ambassador to the U.S. in October 2013 and then set out to write his book in a hurry for a “political reason.”
I wrote the book, and put rather immense pressure on Random House to bring it out not in September, October, the book selling period, but put it out in June now. Now, because Israel is at a crucial, I refer to it as fateful juncture, as an agreement, a nuclear deal with Iran, approaches literally in the coming days. And then after that perhaps a major French initiative in the Security Council that will have very profound implications for Israeli security.
He was referring to a French proposal to require the creation of a Palestinian state within a year and a half.
Oren then said his book opens with “love for America and love for the Jewish people” because approaching us with gratitude might “stave off another catastrophe.”
There are moments like this in American Jewish history where American Jewry had an opportunity to intercede and perhaps save millions of Jews. And that moment was lost. I grew up in the shadow of that guilt and that horror and it haunts me. I don’t think that every moment is 1938– don’t get me wrong. I don’t think Iranians are Nazis. But I have no doubt that given the opportunity they will wipe us off the map. Because they say it and they’re trying to do it, and we would be idiots not to think so.
Oren, who was born in New York 60 years ago and moved to Israel 40 years ago to serve in its army, said President Obama was determined to make a deal with Iran that virtually everyone in Israel believes is a bad deal. Americans lull themselves with such delusions as the idea that Iran can become a player in regional politics, or that Americans have had too much war. In fact, the Middle East is “a horrible neighborhood,” and Americans have only had two wars, and few of you have had to serve in them– nothing like all the war we’ve had, Oren instructed the audience of 300.
(I’ll have more on Oren’s task-sheet for American Jews, and his denigration of the Israel lobby theory, in days to come.)
Israelis had had an active debate about whether they could trust Obama to take military action against Iran if the situation required it up until September 2013, Oren said. Then the president declined to take action against Syria, ignoring the red line he had established for President Bashar al-Assad’s conduct.
“From that instant the debate in Israel [over Obama’s trustworthiness] ended and it has not been heard of since that time.”
Oren opined that both Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush are “wonderful.” He said he only knows Clinton personally, “and she understands us well,” but Israeli policy would have to change– slightly– if she is elected.
She is a Democrat, she is liberal. If she wins, I would hope that we would adjust our policies accordingly. I have very strong feelings about the peace process….You can’t call it the two state solution now, but you have a two state situation, de facto, in the West Bank, and let’s work to make it better, and let’s limit where we build our settlements, the most controversial thing. Let’s limit it to the settlement blocs, those areas that we all know are going to be part of the Jewish state if we ever have a two state solution. Whenever, no matter– let’s limit it. I think we’d have to adopt that kind of party policy if she were to be elected– to get in a different place.
Now a member of the Israeli parliament, Oren repeatedly bashed Obama for undoing 30 years of the special relationship between the countries, which he said was based on two principles, no daylight between the two official positions, and no surprises. That special relationship between the countries must be refurbished, whoever gets in to the White House, he said. The whole point of his book, he said, was to “restore this alliance” which had taken “some incredible bumps… over the last few years.”