Oren’s Factual Deficit

Michael Oren's anti-Obama screed won't get him invited back to the White House but it could get him into Bibi's cabinet.

By his account all of Obama's mistakes have been intentional and Bibi's lone mistake innocent and that was really Obama's fault.

Where a scholarly analysis is called for, he provides readers with the literary equivalent of a drive-by shooting.

He's entitled to his opinions but not to his own facts, and the articles and interviews promoting his book have been divorced of reality.  His assertion in the Wall Street Journal that Obama has abandoned Israel by being the first president in 40 years to break some mythological standard of "no surprises and no daylight" just doesn't stand up to …well, to daylight. 

The past six decades of US-Israel relations are replete with surprises and daylight coming from both sides. Some examples:

* In the Fifties Eisenhower threatened to isolate Israel during the Suez War;

*  In the Sixties there was Nixon's surprise Rogers peace plan; 

*  In the Seventies was Jerry Ford's "reassessment" of the relationship and Carter's secret deal with the Soviets to call a peace conference;

*  In the Eighties Ronald Reagan started out with the Saudi AWACS sale, joined with Saddam Hussein on a UN Security Council resolution condemning Israel's Osiraq raid, embargoed delivery of F-16s as punishment for that attack and later sprung a peace plan that Prime Minister Menachem Begin loudly denounced. Capping it off was Reagan's surprise recognition of the PLO that left Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir livid;

* In the Nineties it was George H. W. Bush who blocked loan guarantees in an effort to force a settlement freeze;

* In 2000 Bill Clinton proposed a peace plan after negotiations stalled, and in the first decade of the new century George W. Bush publicly endorsed Palestinian statehood.

All those surprises predate Obama, who's had a few of his own.  What most irks Oren seems to be a call for a settlement freeze and Washington secretly negotiating with Iran without informing Israel in advance.

Oren, who has forgotten the cliché about glass houses and throwing stones, overlooked Israel's surprises as well.  Washington was kept in the dark about negotiations on the 1993 Oslo Accords; the 1981 Osiraq attack; the IDF entry to Beirut in the 1982 Lebanon war, an endless string of settlement announcements often timed to poke a finger in the American eye; Bibi's collusion with the Republican opposition in Congress – with Newt Gingrich during the Clinton years and more recently with John Boehner– to undermine the policies of a sitting president.

And who can forget Bibi's persistent meddling in partisan domestic US politics, his endorsement of Mitt Romney, his congressional speech attacking Obama's Iran policy and his rude Oval Office lecture on live television for a lesson on Mideast history?

U.S. Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro called the book "an imaginary account" by a politician "who wants to sell books." Netanyahu rejected Shapiro's plea for an official apology for the attacks on Obama.  That's not surprising since the PM's office is reputed by many Israeli journalists to be a major source of semi-anonymous anti-Obama leaks.

However, two other key cabinet members were quick to condemn the book, including Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon.  Kahlon, the head of Kulanu, Oren's party,  repudiated his colleague's attack on Obama and said he does not speak for the party.

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, a member of Netanyahu's Likud party, said, “Oren is wrong to accuse Obama of malicious intentions toward Israel. The president prevents harsh resolutions against Israel from being passed at the U.N., and actively tries to strengthen the security ties between the states. Saying that the president has abandoned Israel is disconnected [from reality].”

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About the Author
Douglas M. Bloomfield is a syndicated columnist, Washington lobbyist and consultant. He spent nine years as the legislative director and chief lobbyist for AIPAC.