Speaking at Manhattan’s 92nd Street Y Sunday evening, former Israeli ambassador to the United States Michael Oren revealed that his controversial book slamming Obama’s Middle East policy, “Ally: My Journey Across the American-Israeli Divide,” was originally scheduled to be published in the fall. He moved up the release in order to motivate American Jews to rise up against the Iran nuclear deal:
“It’s about saying no” to an Iran deal that “everybody in the Knesset agrees is emphatically bad,” Oren said. He compared “this critical moment” to the Holocaust era, when American Jews had an opportunity to “intercede and perhaps save millions of Jews”.
Oren previewed the book (whose official release is June 23) in a recent Wall Street Journal piece where he laid out his argument that President Obama was dedicated to disrupting the Israeli/United States friendship from his first day in office.
“From the moment he entered office, Mr. Obama promoted an agenda of championing the Palestinian cause and achieving a nuclear accord with Iran. Such policies would have put him at odds with any Israeli leader. But Mr. Obama posed an even more fundamental challenge by abandoning the two core principles of Israel’s alliance with America.”
The two core principals Oren discussed were a public united front, no daylight between the countries public positions, and “no surprises,” between the two countries, and changes in policy will be discussed privately before they are announced publicly.
Immediately after his first inauguration, said Oren, Mr. Obama told American Jewish “leaders” that things were going to be different:
“’When there is no daylight,’ the president told American Jewish leaders in 2009, ‘Israel just sits on the sidelines and that erodes our credibility with the Arabs.’ The explanation ignored Israel’s 2005 withdrawal from Gaza and its two previous offers of Palestinian statehood in Gaza, almost the entire West Bank and half of Jerusalem—both offers rejected by the Palestinians.”
One of Obama’s first moves was without warning breaking a commitment made to Israel in the previous administration:
Obama broke the first principle in 2009, by voiding a commitment made by Bush #43, “to include the major settlement blocs and Jewish Jerusalem within Israel’s borders in any peace agreement.”
As part of that commitment Israel was free to add housing units to existing settlement communities in Judea and Samaria as long as they didn’t expand those communities, and they were free to add communities in agreed to areas in Jerusalem.
Speaking for the Administration, Hillary Clinton publicly denied there was any U.S. commitment, but Elliot Abrams who negotiated the agreement for the United States backed up the Israeli account in a 2009 WSJ op-ed.
Soon after, according the former ambassador, Obama gave his famous Cairo speech with its unprecedented support for the Palestinians and its recognition of Iran’s right to nuclear power, throwing Israel under the bus without first giving America’s ally a heads up. Even more important the former ambassador related in recent Foreign Policy article, every policy move made by the Obama administration toward the Muslim world was signaled in that speech.
These pronouncements presaged what was, in fact, a profound recasting of U.S. policy. While reiterating America’s support for Israel’s security, Obama stridently criticized its settlement policy in the West Bank and endorsed the Palestinian claim to statehood. He also recognized Iran’s right to enrich uranium for peaceful purposes, upheld the principle of nonproliferation, and rejected former President George W. Bush’s policy of promoting American-style democracy in the Middle East. “No single nation should pick and choose which nations hold nuclear weapons,” he said. “No system of government can or should be imposed upon one nation by any other.” In essence, Obama offered a new deal in which the United States would respect popularly chosen Muslim leaders who were authentically rooted in their traditions and willing to engage with the West.
Whenever Israeli leaders were perplexed by the administration’s decision to restore diplomatic ties with Syria — severed by Bush after the assassination of Lebanese president Rafik Hariri — or its early outreach to Libya and Iran, I would always refer them to that text. When policymakers back home failed to understand why Obama stood by Turkish strongman Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who imprisoned journalists and backed Islamic radicals, or Mohamed Morsi, a leading member of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and briefly its president, I would invariably say: “Go back to the speech.” Erdogan and Morsi were both devout Muslims, democratically elected, and accepting of Obama’s outstretched hand. So, too, was Hassan Rouhani, who became Obama’s partner in seeking a negotiated settlement of the Iranian nuclear dispute.
In his Wall Street Journal piece Oren goes on to provide a list of examples already in the public record where Obama purposely surprised his Israeli allies:
“In May 2011, the president altered 40 years of U.S. policy by endorsing the 1967 lines with land swaps—formerly the Palestinian position—as the basis for peace-making. If Mr. Netanyahu appeared to lecture the president the following day, it was because he had been assured by the White House, through me, that no such change would happen.
Israel was also stunned to learn that Mr. Obama offered to sponsor a U.N. Security Council investigation of the settlements and to back Egyptian and Turkish efforts to force Israel to reveal its alleged nuclear capabilities. Mr. Netanyahu eventually agreed to a 10-month moratorium on settlement construction—the first such moratorium since 1967—and backed the creation of a Palestinian state. He was taken aback, however, when he received little credit for these concessions from Mr. Obama, who more than once publicly snubbed him.”
Oren also mentions Obama’s once-sided statements and leaks, “intended to deter Israel from striking Iran preemptively.”
The real kick in the guts from the American president was the surprise announcement in 2014 that Israel’s primary ally had been secretly negotiating a with its most deadly enemy. He wrote:
“The daylight between Israel and the U.S. could not have been more blinding. And for Israelis who repeatedly heard the president pledge that he “had their backs” and “was not bluffing” about the military option, only to watch him tell an Israeli interviewer that “a military solution cannot fix” the Iranian nuclear threat, the astonishment could not have been greater.”
But as Oren wrote in Foreign Policy, perhaps Israel shouldn’t have been surprised, because Iran is Obama’s last chance to make good on that speech made in Cairo a little more than six years ago:
Only Iran, in fact, still holds out the promise of sustaining Obama’s initial hopes for a fresh start with Muslims. “[I]f we were able to get Iran to operate in a responsible fashion,” he told the New Yorker, “you could see an equilibrium developing between [it and] Sunni … Gulf states.” The assumption that a nuclear deal with Iran will render it “a very successful regional power” capable of healing, rather than inflaming, historic schisms remained central to Obama’s thinking. That assumption was scarcely shared by Sunni Muslims, many of whom watched with deep concern at what they perceived as an emerging U.S.-Iranian alliance.
Oren moved up the publication of his book “Ally: My Journey Across the American-Israeli Divide,” to light a fire under the seats of all Israel supporters in the U.S. to fight against the Iran deal, which although incomplete is already known as a capitulation to the rogue, terrorist supporting Iranian regime.
One seemingly unrelated anecdote in the Oren book explains why it will take a supreme effort to stop a bad deal negotiated by the Obama administration. In the book Oren explains how he himself fell for the Obama “Kool-Aid” in 2008. He said that this was before he “understood the deep and profound coldness within Barack Obama, ‘a chill’ that ‘distanced him from traditional American allies—not only Israel—whose ambassadors complained to me of the administration’s unprecedented aloofness. ‘Obama’s problem is not a tin ear,’ one of my European colleagues lamented, ‘it’s a tin heart.’”