The Michael Oren book on the US-Israel relationship keeps spinning off interesting stories.
At the Forward, Larry Cohler-Esses shows a pattern of misrepresenting the truth on Oren’s part. One of Oren’s targets in the book is the New York Times, and he writes that he complained angrily to the Times after it published an Op-Ed article in 2011 in which “[Palestinian president Mahmoud] Abbas suggested that the Arabs had accepted the U.N.’s Partition Plan in 1947 while Israel rejected it.”
Cohler-Esses then points out that nowhere in the Times piece did Abbas make that assertion. Here are the sentences in which Abbas refers to the Partition Plan:
[T]the question posed to the international community was whether our homeland should be partitioned into two states. In November 1947, the General Assembly made its recommendation and answered in the affirmative. Shortly thereafter, Zionist forces expelled Palestinian Arabs to ensure a decisive Jewish majority in the future state of Israel, and Arab armies intervened.
A second misrepresentation is Oren’s assertion that the New York Times refused to run a rebuttal to the Abbas piece by former Israeli president Shimon Peres. In an act of “chicanery,” Oren says, Andrew Rosenthal, editorial page editor of the Times, encouraged the submission of that piece but didn’t publish it. The pro-Israel group CAMERA seized on that charge to say that the Times needs to come clean.
But Cohler-Esses contacted Rosenthal, who contradicts Oren:
According to Rosenthal, who wrote me in an email after checking on this, “We have no record of receiving an Op-Ed submission from Shimon Peres following the Abbas Op-Ed of May 17, 2011.”
In his email Rosenthal stated, “I offered [Oren], or Prime Minister Netanyahu, or someone else in his government the chance to write an Op-Ed. He declined. Mr. Netanyahu has turned down every offer we have made for him to write for the Op-Ed page.”
Oren has a solid background in twisting the truth. A year ago, you may remember that after CNN aired surveillance video from the occupation showing two Palestinian boys collapsing after they’d been shot fatally by Israeli soldiers during a demonstration, Oren stated repeatedly that the boys may not have actually died. CNN subsequently dropped Oren as an “analyst” because of these efforts to distort the truth (Alex Kane reported).
Oren’s book shows how important he sees the battle for space in the American media. Again, from the Forward:
[Oren] relates an upsetting account of his effort to get a rebuttal to [Abbas’s alleged] false history into Rosenthal’s hands on deadline in the form of a response from Israel’s then-president, Shimon Peres. According to Oren, this meant frantic text messaging with Peres while he was at his own son’s graduation ceremony from Columbia University.
“The result was his moving memoir of Israel’s struggle for independence and its insuppresable yearning for peace,” Oren writes. “Just before deadline, I pressed the SEND button and sighed with relief.”
Can you imagine ruining a son’s graduation by frantic texting over a New York Times Op-Ed the whole time?
Speaking of the Times, Jerusalem bureau chief Jodi Rudoren has published a cute piece about the Oren book that treats the differences over some of its assertions re the Obama administration as “a parlor game.”
Tit, meet tat. But the game went on.
This story follows her piece three days ago, mining Oren’s account for a heroic story about Israeli diplomacy.
It’s bizarre that the Times treats this book as a dish story when it has become a source of genuine controversy in the United States for its smears of Jewish journalists who dared to criticize Israel, its revelations that Obama was supposed to clear his Cairo speech and Iran talks with Benjamin Netanyahu before undertaking either, and its claim that Obama “abandoned” Israel, a claim the US ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro has angrily disputed.
The real story continues to be too hot for the Times to handle. We and Michael Oren do agree on what that story truly is: America’s contribution to Israel’s growing isolation and the battles between Israeli and American Jews over Israel’s conduct.