Home > Diplomacy, Israeli Neoconservatism > A skeleton in Amb. Michael Oren’s closet

A skeleton in Amb. Michael Oren’s closet

Michael Oren

RELATED POST Amb. Michael Oren’s credibility problem

One of the major criticisms of Ambassador Michael Oren’s attack on J Street is that it constitutes improper meddling in the internal politics of the Jewish-American community. In this morning’s Haaretz, columnist Akiva Eldar reminds (annotated excerpt after the jump) readers that Oren has a habit of intervening in his host country’s domestic affairs.

This is not the first time that Oren has stuck his nose where it does not belong. After the Oslo Accords were signed, Oren, then the American Jewish Committee‘s representative in Israel, distributed a document calling for a centrist bloc headed by Ehud Barak (then chief of staff) and MK Benny Begin as a counterweight to Yitzhak Rabin, who was being led by the left and Yossi Beilin, and to Benjamin Netanyahu, who was being led by the radical right. The American Jewish Committee’s president, Al Moses, said he did not agree with his representative’s remarks. Oren stepped down soon afterward. Incidentally, this short interval was omitted from the ambassador’s official resume.

Eldar is referencing a news report he wrote as Haaretz Washington correspondent on December 8 1993 (annotated full text at bottom). Here’s the relevant excerpt

Last week, Michael Oren, who represents the American Jewish Committee in Israel, distributed a document in which he called for the establishment of a “central block, headed by Chief of Staff Ehud Barak and MK Benny Begin, to counter Yitzhak Rabin, who is being led by the left and Yossi Beilin; and Benjamin Netanyahu, who is dragged behind the extreme right.”

American Jewish Committee President Alfred Moses said that he “does not concur with the content of the position paper that Oren distributed, and that he will make it clear to Foreign Minister Shimon Peres when they meet in Jerusalem.”  Moses clarified that the “committee does not intervene in the domestic affairs of the State of Israel, and supports the government moves.”

Note that Eldar also references another recent, but hardly noticed, Oren shocker reported by The Forward

Oren issued a surprising proclamation of a personal belief in a divine plan behind the creation of the State of Israel

In the run-up to his appointment as ambassador, Oren, with the help of the mainstream US media, pulled off an amazing image makeover — the movement neoconservative became a pragmatic centrist. It seems, however, that Mr. Hyde has overcome Dr. Jekyll. As Oren reverts to his old self, it’s time to look at his history. Just a cursory investigation reveals that this is only one skeleton of many in his closet. More to follow soon.

New ambassador needed

Excerpt from column, Akiva Eldar, Haaretz, December 22 2009

Instead of arguing over the two senior appointments in New York – UN ambassador and consul general – the prime minister and foreign minister should find a new ambassador to Washington. In his brief term, Michael Oren, the man Netanyahu assigned to fill the most important diplomatic post in the world, has managed to clash with a broad swath of the Jewish community. In a speech at a conference by the association of Conservative synagogues two weeks ago, Oren called the peace lobby J Street “a problem” and “beyond the mainstream.”

Shortly before, he skipped a conference hosted by J Street, which was attended by U.S. President Barack Obama’s national security adviser and several elected officials, because J Street objects to the policies of all of Israel’s governments.

The ambassador told participants at the Conservative conference that God Almighty is the reason why the remnants of the Jewish people rose up from the ashes of the Holocaust and returned to their land.

This is not the first time that Oren has stuck his nose where it does not belong. After the Oslo Accords were signed, Oren, then the American Jewish Committee‘s representative in Israel, distributed a document calling for a centrist bloc headed by Ehud Barak (then chief of staff) and MK Benny Begin as a counterweight to Yitzhak Rabin, who was being led by the left and Yossi Beilin, and to Benjamin Netanyahu, who was being led by the radical right. The American Jewish Committee’s president, Al Moses, said he did not agree with his representative’s remarks. Oren stepped down soon afterward. Incidentally, this short interval was omitted from the ambassador’s official resume.

Addressing a dinner party in the US, Bennny Begin spoke in favor of the Beit El Yeshiva

Akiva Eldar, Haaretz, December 8 1993

Washington — Last week, Likud MK Binyamin Zeev Begin joined several other Likud members who are currently promoting settlers’ issues in the United States.

Begin was the main speaker in a festive dinner party held for the Beit El Yeshiva, which, according to the dinner invitation, is a settlement “that guarantees the security of Israel’s borders.”

The settlers’ leaders called on the US Jewry to “contribute to bolstering the Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria and in Gaza, and to finance their supporters’ PR campaign, instead of giving their money to the United Jewish Appeal (UJA).”  The Jewish Press weekly reported that the settlement activists announced a fundraiser that aims at $1 million, and the phone number published for those who wish to make a donation was of a New York representative of the settlements.

Last Saturday, the Zionist Organization of America, the only one of the 64 Jewish organizations in the United States that is called Zionist, made former Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir an honorary member.  Shamir immediately seized the opportunity to attack the government.

Another gathering that the organization will hold this weekend in Washington will be attended by Minister Shimon Shetreet, Labor MK Hagai Meirom, Tel Aviv Mayor Roni Milo, and Likud MK Eliahu Ben Elissar.  Ahmad Maher el-Sa’id, Egyptian ambassador in the USA, will also attend.

The Israeli Embassy reported that Ambassador Itamar Rabinovich will not be able to address the conference.  It was further reported that no other representative was invited to replace him.  Addressing the conference, Major General Giora Rom, the Israeli military attaché, will speak about military issues.

Last week, Michael Oren, who represents the American Jewish Committee in Israel, distributed a document in which he called for the establishment of a “central block, headed by Chief of Staff Ehud Barak and MK Bennny Begin, to counter Yitzhak Rabin, who is being led by the left and Yossi Beilin; and Benjamin Netanyahu, who is dragged behind the extreme right.”

American Jewish Committee President Alfred Moses said that he “does not concur with the content of the position paper that Oren distributed, and that he will make it clear to Foreign Minister Shimon Peres when they meet in Jerusalem.”  Moses clarified that the “committee does not intervene in the domestic affairs of the State of Israel, and supports the government moves.”

The joint team of Jews, Arabs, and Americans that works under the auspices of Vice President Al Gore has recently held a fund-raiser for the territories.  Kenneth Bialkin, one of the most prominent veteran Jewish leaders, said that “we should maintain a balance between the Palestinian and the Jewish residents of the territories, and take the settlers’ needs into consideration.”

  1. jo smith
    January 24, 2010 at 01:32

    why do you keep referring only to eldar ??

    he represents at most 5 pct of israelis

    why dont you give the opinions of the large groups
    the mainstream

    you distort the israeli reality

  1. December 27, 2009 at 18:56
  2. January 4, 2010 at 06:55
  3. January 4, 2010 at 19:23

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