The Existential Threat to Israel
Ally by former Israeli Ambassador to the U.S., Michael Oren, is a powerful and insightful look at the American-Israeli relationship. Oren is considered a centrist and moderate who respects both Shimon Peres and Benjamin Netanyahu. This enhances his credibility when he tells the world that Israel is in existential danger and that his only agenda is a reality check regarding this administration’s policies toward Israel. The other portion of the book, which will be explored in a future article, is Israel’s relationship as reflected by some in the American Jewish media and leadership. American Thinker had the pleasure of interviewing Ambassador Oren about some of the issues facing Israel today.
Through his rhetoric and actions President Obama has bullied Israel into silence and attempted compliance, regarding the issues of the Iranian nuclear deal, the settlements, and the establishment of a Palestinian state. For example, the president has said that Iran can be rational yet still be anti-Semitic. He noted during the Cairo Speech how he wants to seek a world without nuclear weapons, “I understand those who protest that some countries have weapons that others do not. No single nation should pick and choose which nations hold nuclear weapons,” and in May 2011 endorsed a peace accord between Israel and the Palestinians based on the pre-1967 lines.
Oren told American Thinker; “Lets remember one infamous example, when the Nazis pursued their insane ends. Even during the last days of World War II, as the Allied armies liberated Europe, they diverted precious military resources to exterminating Jews. Unlike Israel, which is in Iran’s backyard, the U.S. is not threatened by the proximity of national annihilation. The Israeli position is that this is an irrational regime. I agree with former CIA Director Mike Morell that they want to wipe Israel off the face of the earth, something they have been calling for the last thirty years. Let’s not forget they also attempted to blow up the Israeli Embassy in Washington DC and assassinate the Saudi Ambassador.”
He also agrees with Michael Hayden who said the “enemy of our enemy is still our enemy,” when referring to Iran. Oren believes the president’s allegiance with Iran to defeat ISIS is “misguided. Iran and its terrorist groups have killed more Americans than any other terrorist group outside of Al Qaeda. This does not even include those in the American military who were killed by Iran during the Iraq War. They are not friends.”
When asked if it is true that Israel is working with Muslim states such as Egypt, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia, he responded, “As I said in my book, ‘President Obama set out to bring Arabs and Israelis closer to peace.’ He has in fact brought us closer, but not through peace, but through common concerns and anxiety about his policies. Israel and the Sunni Arab countries have a closer confluence of interest now than anytime since Israel’s founding in 1948. We have common concerns about the Muslim Brotherhood, the growing ISIS threat, Sunni radicals, and the Iranian nuclear program.”
He did not want to get involved in the rhetoric of 2016 American presidential candidates. Although he did feel, “those who are pro-Israel must worry about the progressive wing of the Democratic Party. They question if Israel reflects their values. Let’s understand Hillary Clinton is a Democratic liberal. If she will be elected we will have to understand and deal with this ideological worldview. I do think every president is entitled to his or her view and is something Israel will have to come to terms with. If Israel has to stand alone they will stand alone.”
President Obama is willing to allow Iran the right to have a peaceful nuclear program, and reaches out to the Muslim world with unprecedented concessions. People need to remember the president’s words from 2009: “that the window of diplomacy is not open indefinitely,” yet, it has never closed. It appears the Iranians have learned that the longer the negotiations, the more concessions they get, including conceding the longstanding demand that Iran disclose its past nuclear-weapons research, ignoring the issue of Iranian missile development, wavering on the inspection of military sites, and standing idle as Iran props up Assad and arms Hizb’allah with rockets.
Oren feels, “Iran’s concrete goal is sanction relief. In Israel there is a national consensus this is a bad deal and we have a right and a duty to defend ourselves. During the ten-year period Iran will be advancing centrifuges, and doing more research/development, so on the day after the tenth year they can break out with many nuclear weapons. It’s called ‘Sunset to Arsenal.’ I am currently not comfortable with any agreement if Israel’s concerns are not addressed.”
What mystifies him is the reaction of American college students where Israel is seen as the aggressor while ignoring Iran’s support of terrorist organizations like Hamas and Hizb’allah, their abuse of human rights against women and gays, and their desire to annihilate Israel. Many college students overlook Iran’s violent ways; yet, call for singling out Israel through boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS.) There also is the recent comments by John Kirby, the State Department spokesman regarding the Trade Promotion Authority Bill provision, which discouraged boycotts of Israel and their controlled territories through “principal negotiating objectives” of U.S. officials. Kirby said that this administration would not abide by the clause referring to the Israeli controlled territories. Oren told American Thinker, “You cannot distinguish between Jews. It becomes a slippery slope once you start boycotting Jews because of their political views or commitment to their ideals. BDS is a strategic threat to take Israel down through isolation that affects Israel’s economy. We must allocate resources and be proactive on the diplomatic front to defeat it.
Readers gain insight to what Oren had to endure behind the scenes. A powerful section of the book discusses what happened during the Jerusalem settlement issue in 2010. This was another example of how this administration is completely one-sided, condemning Israel for building settlements in their own capital while at the same time saying nothing while Iran killed its own people. In the book, he relays his words to a State Department official, “We inadvertently slight the vice president and apologize, and I become the first foreign ambassador summoned by this administration to the State Department. Bashar al-Assad hosts Iranian President Ahmadinejad, who calls for murdering seven million Israelis, but do you summon Syria’s ambassador? No, you send your ambassador back to Damascus.”
Ambassador Oren wrote this book to send a clear message, “A friend who stands by his friends on some issues but not others is, in Middle Eastern eyes, not really a friend. In a region famous for its unforgiving sun, any daylight is searing.” Ally is a must read, because it alerts people that Israel faces the greatest challenge they have faced since World War II.
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.