Israeli Amb. Oren Confirms Major Shift In U.S.-Israel Relations Under Obama
June 28, 2010



The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has pointed to recently reported remarks by Israeli Ambassador to the U.S., Michael Oren, that confirm ZOA’s long-held and argued view that, under President Barack Obama, U.S.-Israel relations have shifted dramatically away from their former warmth and closeness.


According to reports, Ambassador Oren “told [Israeli] foreign ministry colleagues at a private briefing in Jerusalem that they were facing a long and potentially irrevocable estrangement. Sources said Mr Oren told the meeting: ‘There is no crisis in Israel-US relations because in a crisis there are ups and downs. [Instead] relations are in a state of tectonic rift in which continents are drifting apart.’ Mr Oren’s privately-voiced pessimism stands in stark contrast to public declarations in both Jerusalem and Washington that differences between the two states amount to nothing more than ‘disagreements’ between allies … According to Mr Oren, attempts to gain leverage over President Obama through some of his ‘pro-Israel’ aides – believed to be a reference to Rahm Emanuel, the White House chief-of-staff, and Dennis Ross, a senior State Department official – had failed. Instead Mr Obama had shown determination to take personal charge of the faltering Israeli-Palestinian peace process and is understood to hold Mr Netanyahu at least partly responsible for the lack of progress. ‘It’s a one man show,’ Mr Oren reportedly told his colleagues” (Adrian Blomfield, ‘US-Israeli relations suffer ‘tectonic rift,”’ Telegraph [London], June 27, 2010).


Ambassador Oren denied some of these remarks yesterday, particularly the reference to a “rift” between the U.S. and Israel, the Washington Post noting that, “Oren said the briefing, given in Hebrew at the Israeli Foreign Ministry, was no different from what he often says to various groups. ‘I said shift, not rift, but that may be a subtlety that escaped the Israeli ear,’ he said. [However] the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, citing five Israeli diplomats who either heard Oren speak or were informed of his remarks, said he painted ‘a dark picture’ of U.S.-Israel relations … [This also contradicts remarks by Ambassador Oren in an interview with the Jerusalem Post last week in which he said] that the Obama administration was ‘as good if not better’ on Israel than ‘many previous administrations’ … Oren on Sunday emphatically denied as ‘a lie’ a report that he had suggested in the briefing that Obama operated out of cold calculation, not emotional attachment to Israel. But he confirmed that he did say Obama runs a very tight ship, with key decision-making done at the White House, not the State Department or other agencies. ‘This is one of the most centralized administrations in post-World War II history,’ said Oren (Glenn Kessler, ‘Israeli Ambassador Oren denies statement of ‘rift’ with U.S., despite reports,’ Washington Post, June 28, 2010).


ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, “Even allowing for the fact that Ambassador Oren has issued clarifications that denied some of his reported remarks in a private meeting with Israeli Foreign Ministry officials in Jerusalem, he has nonetheless pointed to a major ‘tectonic’ shift (he never denied using the word ‘tectonic’) in the U.S.-Israel relationship and identified the source of that shift as being President Obama himself.


“The admission of a deep shift rings true, because there is so much data to confirm it. The ZOA has pointed over the past 18 months to major changes in the U.S.-Israel relationship, including harsh, repeated criticism of Israel, including an unprecedented ‘condemnation’ for merely announcing a program of urban construction in Jewish neighborhoods of eastern Jerusalem, while other countries that actively oppose vital American interests receive no such criticism. The Obama Administration demanded a freeze to Jewish construction in Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem, while ignoring or down-playing Palestinian intransigence, terrorism and incitement to hatred and murder. President Obama has not made an end to Palestinian incitement to hatred and murder against Israel a precondition for continuing U.S. aid and diplomatic support for the Palestinian Authority (PA). On the contrary, he has increased aid to the PA without any alteration in Palestinian policies, conduct or attitudes.


“The Obama Administration has warned Israel not to militarily strike at Iran while, at the same time, not setting any timetable for the success of negotiations designed to bring an end to the Iranian nuclear program. Indeed, senior Obama Administration officials have linked American efforts to stop Iran developing a nuclear weapons capacity to further Israeli concessions to the Palestinians. Worse, in a major speech to the U.N., President Obama coupled America’s commitment to Israel’s security with Israel ‘respecting’ the legitimate claims and rights of the Palestinians.


“President Obama also broke with decades of past U.S. policy by agreeing to a Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty conference declaration singling out Israel and demanding that it sign the treaty.


“ZOA has also pointed to Obama’s June 2009 Cairo speech, in which he demoted Israel’s existence to a mere consolation prize for enduring the Holocaust, while comparing Palestinian suffering to Jewish suffering in the Nazi era, strongly and shockingly implying that Palestinian suffering was equivalent to Jewish suffering during the Holocaust. He also strongly implied the Palestinian situation is equivalent to that of U.S. Blacks during slavery and Blacks during Apartheid-era South Africa.  The assumption, just barely left unsaid, is that Israeli Jews are oppressors.


“False themes like these emanating from President Obama and his Administration seem to be a means of changing the political climate between the two countries and thus a deliberate distancing of the U.S. from Israel. Unsurprisingly, a large number of Obama’s senior Middle East advisers have track records of hostility to Israel.


“Even occasions in which the strength and warmth of U.S.-Israel relations could emphasized without reference to the Middle East – like Israel’s magnificent relief efforts in Haiti, which former President Clinton praised rightly and explicitly – are passed by. Indeed, in the case of the Haiti relief effort earlier this year, President Obama praised many countries by name for their efforts, but conspicuously omitted mention of the one country whose assistance to Haiti exceeded that of all others apart from the U.S. itself – Israel.


“Ambassador Oren is clearly pointing to a serious problem that must concern every supporter of Israel and everyone who values the U.S.-Israeli relationship.”



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