Obama Administration Hangs Rosenthal Out to Dry for Criticism of Oren
I find myself deeply disturbed by the Obama administration’s abandoning its support of its State Department anti-Semitism official, Hannah Rosenthal, for her mild rebuke of the Israeli ambassador for his refusal to attend the J Street national conference. Rosenthal has become the bete noire of the Israel lobby and attacked for her former role as a member of the J Street board. Supposedly holding such a position identifies her as being insufficiently supportive of this Israeli government.
The Israeli response to Rosenthal’s remarks has been the equivalent of a firestorm and characteristically disingenuous:
Senior government officials told Haaretz on Friday that “We were surprised at Ms. Rosenthal’s remarks, as reported in Haaretz.” The officials stressed that he comments “don’t reflect the nature of the relations between Israel and the U.S., nor do they reflect the great respect and appreciation of the ambassador and his staff felt both in Jerusalem and in Washington.”
Does Israel really believe that the Obama administration is pleased that Oren stiffed J Street, when the former sent its national security advisor as the conference keynote speaker?? As for holding Oren in “great respect” such respect is in the eye of the beholder, in this case, Israel. I can’t speak for the Administration, but Oren is held in disrepute by most peace-loving American Jews. He’s a weasel and little more than an elegant fob for the rightist Israeli government.
I’d like to bring further proof of my claim. The Forward reports that Oren gave a deeply disingenuous report to a Conservative Jewish gathering in DC in which he claimed that a Conservative Jewish supporter of Women of the Wall was NOT arrested by Israeli police at a demonstration a few weeks ago. This despite the fact that Haaretz reported that she WAS forcibly arrested, questioned at a police station for 2 1/2 hours and forced to sign a statement that she would refrain from coming to the Kotel for 15 days.
Based on a highly reliable source, I believe that Oren knew he was lying when he made this statement. The Forward has reported that Oren has withdrawn with his tail between his legs and now blames the Israeli officials who briefed him on the matter for misspeaking. He didn’t misspeak. He thought he could get away with lying. Only when he was called on it did he attempt to backtrack, rather feebly.
He promised a further “inquiry” to clarify the matter. Don’t hold your breath.
Further, this meeting with Conservative Jews was the same one at which Oren blasted J Street claiming fraudulently that it never supported the policies of any Israeli government. They say that a diplomat is a man who happily lies in service to his country. That couldn’t be truer in Oren’s case.
Returning to Rosenthal, the Israelis have exhibited further chutzpah in this statement:
Senior Israeli officials told their American colleagues that it was unacceptable for an administration official to publicly criticize Israel’s ambassador over his relationship with Jewish organizations…
Why? What’s sacred about the ambassador’s non-existent relationship with J Street such that it cannot be faulted by an American Jew who happens to serve in the Administration?
What disappoints me most about the Rosenthal affair is the Administration rolling over in the face of Israeli displeasure:
U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs, Jeffrey Feltman, issued a statement distancing himself from Rosenthal’s remarks. Statements were also delivered to the Israeli embassy in Washington stating that Rosenthal’s sentiments do not reflect the position of the U.S. administration.
Cowards. Wimps. Rosenthal was right. She said nothing radical or uncivil or embarrassing to the U.S. They should’ve released a statement saying merely that Rosenthal was speaking in a personal capacity and that her views don’t necessarily reflect those of the Administration. To renounce what she said is chicken-shit.
Of course, one has to understand that the reporters who wrote this story are two of Israel’s great stenographers on behalf of the government and power elite. Neither Barak Ravid nor Natasha Mozgovaya ever deviate from the party line in government ministries in Israel. So whether they’re reporting accurately the U.S. government response, or merely reporting the response as their government minders would like them to isn’t clear.
The Conference of Presidents, run by that neocon Israel-firster, Malcolm Hoenlein, has denounced Rosenthal and asked for her head:
Alan Solow, chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations…issued a condemnation of Rosenthal’s remarks, casting doubt over her ability to fulfill her responsibilities as an opponent of anti-Semitism.
“As an official of the United States government, it is inappropriate for the anti-Semitism envoy to be expressing her personal views on the positions Ambassador Oren has taken as well as on the subject of who needs to be heard from in the Jewish community. Such statements have nothing to do with her responsibilities and, based upon comments I am already receiving, could threaten to limit her effectiveness in the area for which she is actually responsible,” said the statement.
What Solow (I’ll bet this statement was written for him by Hoenlein or his PR flack) really means to say is that Rosenthal has no right to criticize any Israeli official even when his actions are detrimental to U.S. policy, as Oren’s were. That notion of the Israeli ambassador as sacred cow is preposterous. J Street represents an entirely legitimate Jewish organization that supports U.S. policy and advances the prospects for Israeli-Palestinian peace. Oren’s refusal to engage with them is a slap at J Street and indirectly a slap at Obama administration Middle East policy.
While I have no doubt that Rosenthal’s views were deeply personally held. That doesn’t make them personal views alone in this context. They were legitimate views about policy and as such she had a right to make them and her government should’ve supported her more fully.
I hope someone in the Administration will slap down the Conference and Hoenlein before they get too big for their britches. If they don’t, the next thing you know they’ll be on the warpath for Hannah Rosenthal’s scalp. We owe her support in that eventuality.
13 thoughts on “Obama Administration Hangs Rosenthal Out to Dry for Criticism of Oren – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم”
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“[Oren is] a weasel”
I protest vehemently…
on behalf of all weasels, who are unable to speak for themselves in this matter.
keep the good work. do you know if oren still holds his american citizenship as the israeli ambassador to the us (or was he indeed a patriotic enough israeli and therefore renouned his (and his family’s) US passports upon undertaking his offical work for a different state)?
My understanding is that he has given up his U.S. citizenship in order to assume the ambassadorship.
RE: “My understanding is that he has given up his U.S. citizenship in order to assume the ambassadorship.” – R.S.
MY COMMENT: This is apparently required by Israeli law.
SOURCE – http://mondoweiss.net/2009/05/a-thought-on-dual-loyalty-and-the-why-that-question-can-not-be-swept-under-the-rug-michael-oren-born-in-the-us-and-a-dual.html
Thank you all, BUT: did anyone here check – for a fact that is – that Oren DID INDEED renaunce his American citizenship? Unless someone PROVES otherwise – I must assume that Oren didn’t actively do it (as is the case with israeli “partiots” of his kind including the illegal settler Yisrael Meydad didn’t).
Is it really in her purview to make the comment she did about Oren? I mean if you think Oren was being antisemitic, saying what he did about J Street (it is a “Jewish” group, no? – although it does have a strong non-Jewish and even Arab backing), then maybe she had an official mandate to criticize him but perhaps she was doing so as a former J Streeter?
I think it was in her purview. Obviously, the MFA yelled Ouch & manged to get her slapped down pretty heavily. Obama figures relations are bad enough w. Bibi that he didn’t want an underling to poison the well even more toxically than it already was poisoned.
I don’t understand the “anti-Semitic” phrase. WHo’s talking about anti-Semitism. Oren is being a nitwit & rightist when he disses J St. & then attempts to have Hannah Rosenthal’s head. But “anti-Semitic??” Huh?
I’m certain very few in the Administration have much good to say about Oren. But unlike Rosenthal, they keep their opinions to themselves. She opened her trap at an inopportune time.
RE: “To renounce what she said is chicken-shit.” – R.S.
MY COMMENT: I could not have put it better myself!
RE: “We owe her support in that eventuality.” – R.S.
MY COMMENT: Yes, in spades!
And yet another nail, though this time perhaps only a mere 4-point common one, in the coffin of hope we once upon a time had for this administration, perhaps naively forgetting that ours is a nation that has moved so far right that “reactionary” now means “conservative” and “liberal” “radical”. Yes, let’s do indeed shut down a person with the temerity to offer a mild and totally justified rebuke against the appalling behavior of a representative of one of our principal essentially symbiotic clients, that stalwart little democracy and ethnic-cleansing land-stealer, Israel. Now that we have this latest religious maniac who attempted to join the ranks of terror martyrs by bringing down an airliner, we hear the stentorian voice of Warrior Joe L., our heroic albeit bloodthirsty neocon senator from Israel (Connecticut, too), calling for preemptive action against Yemen. Yes, indeed, let’s shut Hannah Rosenthal the hell up because such as she, possibly in the pursuit of some of evil J Street’s goals, might actually not want to wage preemptive strikes against other nations and even intelligently address the issues, including the sources, of terrorism.
This is kind of off-topic, but I find it fascinating that the United States administration has seen a need to appoint an “anti-Semitism official”. I wonder whether they have ever even considered appointing an anti-Arabism official, and an anti-Islamophobia official. Something tells me that the need has never occurred to them despite the fact that anti-Arabism and Islamophobia are far more widespread and far more dangerous to far more people than anti-Semitism is.
George Bush appointed Karen Hughes as a sort of anti Islamophobia czar and called her a public diplomacy officer. Of course the ploy didn’t work because she had no serious policy to sell, not to mention she was ignorant about the Middle East and Islam.
Exactly – it was a ploy. Would they even TRY to pass something like that over on the Jews? Not a chance. Everyone knew what her job really was, and no one was charmed because she put some stupid schmatta over part of her head, and pretended it was a sign of respect. And she was not even remotely an Arab or a Muslim, was she? Didn’t even, as you pointed out, know the first thing about the Middle East (except you are supposed to put a schmatta on your head when you go there). Can you imagine the hue and cry if the administration appointed a goy as anti-Semitism Czar? Yet we are supposed to be thrilled to pieces to have some ignorant P.R. hack appointed for us. No frickin’ thanks!
And that “happy American Muslims” marketing campaign fooled no one; the three viewers Al Hurra has are CIA assets and only watch it for fear they will be quizzed about its content by their handlers; and that glossy youth magazine – what did they call that? – lasted about a year before it folded – they couldn’t even give it away. Nobody was even interested enough to steal a copy.
Arabs and Muslims tend to like American people. They like American principles of freedom, American prosperity, and appreciate American culture, and American technology, but they really, really, really do not appreciate blatantly patronizing attempts on the part of the Empire to sell them what is obviously a bill of goods.
And in the meantime anti-Arab and anti-Muslim attitudes and incidents have not abated, and worse yet are likely to be strenuously defended as freedom of expression. Not only are mosques attacked and vandalized, but also Eastern churches – a couple have been burned virtually to the ground, one in this area (as was a mosque near my home a few years ago). And of course verbal and physical attacks, some of them deadly, happen all the time to people who might be “Middle-Eastern-looking-or-acting” (whatever that is), and displaying, especially wearing, Arabic writing can cause all kinds of problems. Just recently yet another Sikh was murdered by someone who apparently mistook him for a Muslim. And getting authorities to classify these things as hate crimes is like pulling their teeth out one at a time, even when it is completely obvious the person who committed them was motivated by anti-Arab or anti-Muslim sentiment.
Where is our anti-Arabism, anti-Muslimism czar? And don’t give us some know-nothing Baptist with mixed European background unless you are prepared to offer the Jews as their anti-Semitism official a raging goy who thinks a latke is a character on a sitcom!
Many left-wing Israelis like myself suffer similar abuse from the majority of American Jewery who blindly follow Israeli Government policies. But wait until it will come to a point they will define for you who will be considered a Jew, in ways that you will not like at all. Do not expect us to protest against it !
As a nephew of the late Jewish heroe Hannah Senesh, I sure can identify a heroe when I rarely come across one: Hannah Rosenthal surely is one. Kol Hakavod !! I will surely trust her to protect us against antisemitism.
Dr. David Senesh