23 June '10
Ambassador Michael Oren gave a curious interview to the Jerusalem Post this week. In some respects, we got the unvarnished and deliciously candid analysis we have come to expect from him:
Asked about J Street’s influence on the White House or its sway in Congress, the ambassador said, “I don’t think that they have proven decisive on any major issue we’ve encountered.”
Oren said J Street was fundamentally different than the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).
“AIPAC’s mandate is to support the decisions of the democratically elected government of Israel, be it left, right or center,” he said. “J Street makes its own policy and does not necessarily, to say the least, accept the decisions of the policies of the government of Israel.”
“Listen, I represent the democratically elected government, and that government reflects the will of the people of Israel, and what they perceive as the interests of Israel,” he said, adding that J Street was an organization “taking issue with that, and that in itself is a source of disagreement.”
But he is also a diplomat, one trying to hold the tenuous U.S.-Israel relationship together. So he feels compelled to say things such as “the tone changed within a week” after Obama’s display of rudeness toward Bibi Netanyahu. Listen, at that time James Jones was holding meetings on an imposed peace plan and leaking it to the media. Obama more recently has not exactly been the stalwart partner for Israel during the flotilla incident. And Oren unfortunately goes well beyond the needs of diplomatic niceties when he declares:
“Bi-partisan support for Israel is a national strategic interest for us, and I’m sometimes in the difficult position of having to tell some of Israel’s most outspoken supporters to be aware of this,” Oren said.
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