The Anti-Defamation League lashed into former Israeli ambassador to the US Michael Oren Sunday for a number of “unjustified and insensitive” essays he published in US media, one of which claimed that President Barack Obama’s foreign policy may have been unduly influenced by his early upbringing among adherents of the Muslim faith.
ADL Director Abraham Foxman called on the American-born Knesset member to retract his statements that “attack” the president and “veer into the realm of conspiracy theories.”
“In the days leading up to the forthcoming release of a memoir of his experiences as Israel’s Ambassador to the US, Michael Oren appears to be using the very legitimate and sharp policy disagreements between Israel and the US as an insensitive and unjustified attack on the president,” Foxman said in a statement.
“We hope that Ambassador Oren will walk back these unjustified attacks,” he said.
Ahead of the release of “Ally,” on the Israel-US relationship, Oren penned three opinion pieces that received mixed reactions from US political figures and the Jewish community: “How Obama abandoned Israel” in Tuesday’s Wall Street Journal; followed by “Why Obama is wrong about Iran being ‘rational’ on nukes,” in the Los Angeles Times; and on Friday, in Foreign Policy Magazine, “How Obama Opened His Heart to the ‘Muslim World.”
In the Foreign Policy piece, Oren blasted Obama’s “naive” approach to Islam, and speculated that his outreach to the Muslim world may stem from the fact that he was abandoned by his Muslim father and therefore seeks acceptance from his co-religionists.
Foxman took issue especially with the Foreign Policy piece, which he termed “borderline stereotyping.”
“Ambassador Oren revives the meme of the president’s ‘Muslim heritage’ to make the case that American foreign policy in the Middle East is primarily being promoted and dictated by the president’s early upbringing in the Muslim faith and in Muslim traditions,” Foxman said,
Oren’s essay, he continued, “veers into the realm of conspiracy theories, and with an element of amateur psychoanalysis he links US policies in the Middle East to the president’s personal history of having a Muslim father. Then, taking it a step further by suggesting this ‘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.”
Oren was in New York Sunday night to launch the PR tour for his book, which he said he had released with the aim of enlisting American Jews to fight the emerging nuclear deal with Iran at a “critical moment” reminiscent of the lead-up to the Holocaust.
The book is “about saying no” to a nuclear deal that “everybody in the Knesset agrees is emphatically bad,” Oren noted during the event at the 92nd Street Y, adding that “Israel is at a fateful juncture” and that American Jews have the opportunity to “intercede and perhaps save millions of Jews,” Haaretz reported.
Oren reiterated that he believes “Obama is not anti-Israel” but that he has engaged in a major policy shift vis-a-vis Israel.
He also intimated that the American Jews in the Obama administration “have a hard time understanding the Israeli character.”
“There were discussions in the White House in which there were six Jews – 3 Americans and 3 Israelis, discussing a Palestinian state – and the only non-Jewish person in the room was the president or the vice president,” Oren said, adding that non-Orthodox and the intermarried American Jews don’t fully grasp Israel’s position.
Oren gave a lengthy interview to the Times of Israel last week in which he echoed charges in “Ally” to the effect that aspects of US-Israel ties are “in tatters” because of the president. He said “Ally” was “a cri de coeur… for an alliance that should be in a much better place than it is.” He also said he wanted to get the book published as soon as possible because “we’re at a crucial juncture now with the Iran issue, and it’s very important to set certain records straight as we go into what could be a fateful period for the State of Israel.”