American Media and Ambassador Oren

Allies should have the same ideals and values. They stand together when one is threatened or feels threatened. They are willing to share intelligence and defense capabilities. They assist in saving each other’s lives on and off the battlefield. Yet the press, the Obama administration, and even some in the Jewish community have portrayed Israel as anything but an American ally, as an obstacle to peace. They have been neither objective nor fair in reporting Israel’s concerns, as evidenced by the attacks made against former Israeli ambassador to the U.S., Michael Oren, regarding his book Ally.   

In her book Stonewalled, Sharyl Attkisson addresses the current problem with the media, since many are no longer, “willing to serve vigorously and effectively as the Fourth Estate watchdog to government and other powers.” Those who want to silence someone launch a propaganda campaign to divert from the damaging facts by focusing on something else, something she calls “controversializing.” This is happening to Michael Oren as the Obama Administration’s watchdogs have unfairly attacked him personally, while ignoring and brushing off the Iranian actions and rhetoric.

Michael Oren feels that there are some in the media who “flag their Jewishness as a credential for criticizing Israel. As an Ambassador I had to deal with a reality, and that reality is that there are a number of Jews in the media who will flag their Jewish identity to lend credibility to their criticism of Israel. To not deal with this would have been remiss as an ambassador, and I chose to discuss it in my book because I want it out there, I want this as an issue we talk about with American Jewry.”  

The issue is that some American Jews are ignoring or are willing to look the other way concerning the existential threats against Israel. Oren told American Thinker, “The American Jewish leadership and media must recognize we are confronting a strategic challenge. We must raise the awareness. Frankly, it is deeply depressing that as the Jewish people face these threats parts of the American Jewish media and leadership are discussing trivia. History will judge us. Subsequent generations will look back on us as we look back on Jews of the 1930s. Remember that American Jewry once had a chance to save six million Jews, and there are six million today in Israel. This is about our survival as a people. It’s about our children and grandchildren. What may look like an academic debate here in America is for us in Israel a matter of life and death.”

Leaders in Iran can call the U.S. Secretary of State a liar, scream for the destruction of Israel, and just recently made hostile assertions against the U.S. Yet, when those in the Obama administration are interviewed, not much emphasis is placed on these Iranian statements. Instead, Israelis are the ones discredited and dishonored whether, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu or Ambassador Oren. 

The U.S. ambassador to Israel, Daniel Shapiro, said that Oren’s description of the U.S.-Israel relationship under President Obama “did not reflect the truth and is imaginary.” Abraham Foxman, the outgoing national director of the Anti-Defamation League, said that Oren suggested that Obama’s “worldview of Muslims and Islam has driven the president to embrace the Muslim world at the expense of both Israel and US national security interests. This results in borderline stereotyping and insensitivity.” Furthermore, it is almost humorous that the Obama administration called upon Prime Minister Netanyahu to publicly distance himself from what was said in the book, something he rejected.

Oren was asked his feelings on the attempts to polarize him. He sees some as “setting up a straw dog. They say that I said X, and then attack my supposed statements, even though I never said it. Those ignoring my call for a discussion are actually delegitimizing the book and me. If people think I will stop they are delusional. It has been very distressing.  It has been a Jewish effort that is systematic and pervasive. The book is a cry out to the Jewish people and supporters of Israel that we must protect ourselves.”

Look no farther than Jonathan Broder’s recent Newsweek article, in which he wrote, “The American-born Oren, who renounced his U.S. citizenship and now serves as a lawmaker in Netanyahu’s right-wing coalition, transforms from a measured historian into a breathless polemicist.” Instead of focusing on the actual content, Broder takes something completely out of context considering that federal American law requires any American who officially serves a foreign county to renounce their U.S. Citizenship. In fact, Oren has said “The renunciation of my citizenship, though painful, did not render me less American in my culture, principles, and spirit.”

While condemning those who oppose the Iranian nuclear deal, some in the press go out of their way to show how President Obama is a strong supporter of Israel. Take for example Jeffrey Goldberg, the Atlantic Magazine journalist, who interviewed President Obama in May and talked about how “a number of years ago, I made the case that you’re America’s first Jewish president;” emphasizing how President Obama feels a personal responsibility toward Israel and has its back. Compare that to the interview with Ambassador Oren on June 29th when Goldberg spent the majority of the article questioning Oren’s motives for writing the remarks about President Obama and the Jewish American journalists.

Not all who interviewed Oren attempted to “controversalize” him. One example of someone who asked fair and relevant questions was Los Angeles Sinai Temple Rabbi David Wolpe who is also a writer for Time magazine. He actually touched on topics that were not trivial. The ambassador feels that Rabbi Wolpe is “an American Jewish leader who is willing to engage me on the issues.  He discussed the substantive parts of the book, and did not miss the big picture of what I was trying to say.”

Supporters of Israel must rally to defeat the deal with Iran by speaking out against those who are holding a one-sided point of view. The personal and vicious attacks on Oren are attempts to suppress his dissent. Yet, if anything, it reinforces the ambassador’s perspective, the existence of a strained relationship between the Obama administration and Israel as well as those in the Jewish community who are trying to polarize him.

The author writes for American Thinker. She has done book reviews, author interviews, and has written a number of national security, political, and foreign policy articles.