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Oren was surprised by backlash to his memoir — ‘slinky’ ‘self aggrandizing,’ and ‘reckless’

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This site enthusiastically promoted the hardcover version of the 2015 memoir by Michael Oren, formerly Israel’s ambassador to the United States. Now the paperback is out, with a revealing new afterword, and we are delighted to renew our strong endorsement.

The book is called Ally: My Journey Across the American-Israeli Divide. We noted last year that a more accurate subtitle would be How Israel’s Government Disrespects Americans, Particularly American Jews, But Is Still Ultra-Sensitive to Criticism. Oren’s memoir is an indispensable guide to how Israelis, especially top officials, really think about America. Oren was raised in New Jersey, emigrated to Israel as an adult, and is an accomplished writer, which makes his revelations even more convincing. He was picked as ambassador to the U.S. partly to slow the Jewish-American drift away from Israel, but his book cannot conceal his lack of respect for his primary audience.

The new afterword includes more of his trademark sniping at American Jews. He doesn’t disguise his contempt when he notes that “less than one-third” of the Jewish members of Congress opposed the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement, and he dismisses J Street, hardly an enemy of Israel, as “a branch of the Obama administration.”

Oren rushed his book out in 2015 to try and help stop the Iran deal, and his afterword has to ruefully admit he failed. But he does give a glimpse into Israel’s thinking, which suggests that the main reason Tel Aviv opposed the agreement was not any nuclear danger from Teheran. He notes that “a far more immediate shortcoming, from Israel’s perspective, was the treaty’s utter disassociation from Iran’s behavior” — and he cites, among other factors, Teheran’s support for the Hezbollah militia in Lebanon. In other words, Israel’s real fear is that Iran is countering Tel Aviv’s regional strength, and is therefore a threat to its ongoing occupation of Palestine.

Oren’s afterword then turns to how hurt he was that Ally triggered such negative reactions among so many American book reviewers. He writes:

I was prepared for a backlash, although admittedly nothing quite like what ensued. Drowning out the enthusiastic reviews was a wave of attacks. ‘Slinky,’ ‘self-aggrandizing,’ ‘reckless,’ ‘amateurish,’ ‘foolish, ‘ugly,’ even ‘un-Zionist’ — were among the epithets hurled.

He notes to his (and our) astonishment that even Abe Foxman, the former head of the Anti-Defamation League, accused him of “borderline stereotyping and insensitivity.” (He does fail to mention the Mondoweiss endorsement; we were “delighted” last year his book got on the best-seller list, and “sorry” it quickly “slipped off.”)

Michael Oren is not a stupid man. But he sounds genuinely stumped by the hostility, most of it from Jewish Americans. One explanation is that he has fallen out of touch with America. He moved to Israel in 1979, and despite frequent visits, he seems not to recognize the central truth that partly inspired Phil Weiss to launch this website; American Jews are quite happy in America, and growing numbers of them, particularly among the young, are turning against an Israel that continues the occupation, and jails and kills Palestinians who oppose it.

James North
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5 Responses

  1. pabelmont
    December 5, 2016, 7:23 pm

    In the recent election campaign, the hard-line-DEMs were out of touch with the rust-belt, out of work, out of self-esteem, out of luck, and out of patience blue collar folks (many of whom, among other things not noticed, were also so depressed that they were sinking into various forms of addiction including opioids). Such depression was not a form of announcement that life under Obama was so wonderful they wanted 4-more-years of it. Clinton and her crew missed the signal (didn’t get the memo) (what is it in “We Want Change” that was hard to understand? Trump’s voters and Sanders’s voters were both saying it.)

    So Oren being out of touch is not as surprising as this article makes it seem.

    Politicians spend so much time with friends and colleagues that they live (in effect) inside a bubble the hard shell of which excludes “signals” from “other people”.

    Just as Clinton said things that went down well with the hard-line-DEM insiders and therefore seemed to her to make sense, Oren writes things that go down well in Israel and therefore seem to him to make sense.


  2. Maghlawatan
    December 5, 2016, 10:09 pm

    Oren is slimy. Anyone who will attempt to polish the turd of Israeli human rights abuses is.
    What I find interesting about all the sociopaths who keep Israel doing what it does it that none of them sees the big picture , none of them understand where Israel is headed, none of them can stop the suicide

  3. Ossinev
    December 6, 2016, 4:40 am

    Poor dear. People are so so unfair. He should get out and about in the West Bank a little bit more. Seeing the IDF beat up a few Palestinian women and children will cheer him up no end.

  4. The Dirty Democrat
    The Dirty Democrat
    December 6, 2016, 9:02 am

    I watched Oren in the Democratic Convention Platform committee and I was astounded at the BS Oren put out as factual.
    He was proposing, in essence, Palestinians should be gotten rid of so the Jews could have their country. Dr. West wanted to take his head off with such thinking and most of us thought the same.
    I truly believe Netanyahu put Oren up as ambassador as an irritant to President Obama knowing he would cloud every issue brought up out of the white phosphorus mist of Israel’s reason for Palestine to exist.

  5. Kay24
    December 6, 2016, 9:07 am

    Oren is yet another zionist who being brainwashed into thinking EVERYTHING Israel does is for the good of the Jewish people, their homeland, and the “never again” theory.
    If they have to occupy, steal lands, build illegal settlements, kills thousands of civilians, imprison little children, lie to the world, and use the US as a tool to do all of the above, then it is OKAY and even heroic to do so.

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