A funny thing happened to Michael Oren on his way to Seattle. This month, he was scheduled to address St. Mark’s Cathedral, seat of Seattle’s Episcopal diocese. But he dropped out at the last minute. Now his only major appearance will be speaking to a “private” audience of Seattle Jews at Temple DeHirsch Sinai.
It’s instructive to learn how his St. Mark’s gig came about and then came not to be. A few months ago the local Jewish community leadership wrote to the Bishop asking that Ambassador Oren speak before the congregation. Wendy Rosen, director of the American Jewish Committee was the official who made these arrangements. I find it odd that the Israeli government’s official representative in the Pacific NW books speaking engagements through American Jewish community leaders. It makes it appear as if American Jews are almost official extensions of the Israeli State itself.
At any rate, the Church agreed to have Oren speak there on June 8th. But the next thing they knew, he canceled his talk because he had an urgent matter to attend to in San Francisco. Perhaps someone in that fair city can tell us what’s so important that he had to cancel an event he’d lobbied the local Christian community to host. Some church members with whom I spoke had a sneaking suspicion that the Ambassador’s staff was worried that he would receive a less than stellar welcome into the bosom of St. Mark’s. After all, this is the same Church which hosted numerous programs promoting a peaceful resolution of the conflict. Among them several I participated in, including events on Islamophobia, the Mavi Marmara massacre, the Arab Spring and its impact on Israel. Clearly, the Israeli government and its representatives here see St. Mark’s as a hotbed of delegitimization. That’s why they’re eager (or are they?) to send their Ambassador into the lion’s den.
With the Israeli government supported lawsuit against the Olympia food coop for its support of BDS, Seattle’s shunning of an official Israeli LGBT delegation, the supposed pro-Palestinian activism of St. Mark’s Cathedral, and the presence of an especially aggressive local StandWithUs chapter, the Israeli government appears to see the Pacific NW as a hotbed of anti-Israel activity. That’s likely why the Ambassador is gracing us with his presence. That’s why SWU has announced that instead of the two Israeli hasbara interns who spent this year in Seattle pounding the hustings of local campuses and high schools searching out pro-Israel recruits, there will be TEN this coming year.
Set all this as a backdrop against Oren’s other appearance here in Seattle. On June 6th, the 45th anniversary of the start of the 1967 War, he will address hundreds of Seattle Jews at a “private” event (note contradiction) to which the entire community has been invited. There’s a catch though. You may not attend unless you offer private contact information and RSVP, which undoubtedly allows Israeli government security to vet those wishing to attend. The event will be at Temple DeHirsch Sinai on Capitol Hill at 7PM.
I am tweeting a series of questions of my own to the Ambassador which I’d like him to address in his talk. You can join the conversation at his Twitter feed. Let’s shower him with love and affection and truths he’d rather not face. If he doesn’t address them, perhaps those who do attend (haven’t yet decided whether I will) can remind him of the gaps in his hasbara talk.
Though Ambassador Oren’s talks have a history of drawing protest and controversy, one wonders why he or the local Jewish community leadership felt so paranoid that they needed to close the event to the public. What are they afraid of? Note also the irony of the Israeli government demanding that the local Christian community open a major forum for its representative to speak, but then closing off a Jewish venue to public access. Pro-Israel advocacy groups like StandWithUs are quick to denounce so-called violations of free speech when Ambassador Oren’s speeches are disrupted. But in this instance, the community has circled the wagons and shut off free and open debate. Their message: do as we say and not as we do.
Ahad Haadam says
Here is the question on my behalf I’d like him to answer: every 8 year old around the world can draw the borders of his country. Can you, Mr. Oren, draw Israel’s borders? Here is a napkin and a pen for your convenience.
Seattle’s shunning of an official Israeli LGBT delegation, the supposed pro-Palestinian activism of St. Mark’s Cathedral, and the presence of an especially aggressive local StandWithUs chapter, the Israeli government appears to see the Pacific NW as a hotbed of anti-Israel activity.
I think one of the mistakes Palestinians have made, is that they havn’t really fully played the ‘Christian’ card. I’m no fan of the conservative Christian Right, but they are not supporters of Zionism, hence i’m wondering if this is not a serious mistake?
Instead of touting ‘universal values’ would it not be more fruitful to break the neo con Zionist strangehold by encouraging these groups and supporting them?
I don’t like the Christian Right, but groups like Christ at the Checkpoint, will have resonance amongst them, more than ‘universal values’.
That said, I don’t like the Republican right wing, nor the conservative movement. Partly because i’m Muslim, Islam at it’s core is liberal and clashes with right wing politics.
It’s a dilemma.
The West has always treated Oriental Christians like Muslims; it is millennial. The crusaders massacred Oriental Christians along with Muslims.
Later, Catholics like the French, found it useful to ally with Christian communities in the Near East.
Evidently in consequence, the Oriental Christians have found it easy, today, to have visas to depart for Europe and the US.
The problem with the argument vis-a-vis the Christian Zionists, is that there is no question but that Christian Palestinians are original inhabitants of Palestine, with as much right as Jews to inhabit the country. Muslim Palestinians can be accused of being Arabs and late arrivers, but Christian Palestinians can’t.They are the Arabic-speaking descendants of the ancient population of Palestine.
Therefore their voice cannot be allowed to be heard, because it would put the narrative in question.
The West has always treated Oriental Christians like Muslims; it is millennial.
the Crusaders massacred Jews too. As for todays Christians, I disagree with you. The Palestinians have a lot of support and do influence greatly, Christian discourse towards the Middle East. Christianity tends to sympathise more with the Palestinians.
The original inhabitants of Palestine is not the reason they are supported, that is subjective, in any case, the right to land is not by who has lived there the longest, otherwise i’d be the first to rally the US an illegal state built on genocide of Indians. Nobody has rights to any land except by military rights. That is why countries from time immemorial including today have armies. In the civilised world that we now have chosen to create, we agree on rules not to invade. The UN, thus every country signed up has to abide by the rules. Who lived where centuries ago is of no significance. Israel is breaking todays UN resolutions, that is of significance.
Alexno, when I said support, I meant outside of the US, though even in the US, it’s changing now, with Christian groups influencing the deviant theologies of Evangelical Armeggedon.
By the way, Stephen Walt, in his book The Israel Lobby predicted this. He said Christian support for Israel in the US is based on a deviant thelogy and they will come to realise they are wrong. Not those exact words, but he said something to that effect when he was questioned about the Armeggedonites, and why he didn’t mention their influence on the Zionist lobby in the US. He said it would recede with time, and that is now starting to happen.
Deïr Yassin says
“… Christian Palestinians are original inhabitants of Palestine, with as much right as Jews to inhabit the country. Muslim Palestinians can be accused of being Arabs and late arrivers….”
1. You mean as much right as Jews coming from Russia, Poland or indigenous Jewish Berbers from Morocco ?
2. You seem to make a distinction between Palestinian Muslim Arabs and Palestinian Christian Arabic-speaking.
“Arab” is a lingustic denominator, but the Arabs have no common ‘genetic’ origin whatsoever from Morocco to Western Iran. They are various indigenous populations who have been arabized and mostly islamized too.
3. Palestinian Muslims can only be “accused of being…late arrivers” if one doesn’t know the history of Palestine. Just as the Christian Palestinians they are rooted in the land. You seem to imply that Palestinian Muslim came from the Arabian Peninsula, and are not indigenous who converted to a new religion.
I’m not sure many Palestinans would appreciate this division of Palestinians into ‘indigenous Christians’ and ‘Muslim newcomers’ – even in order to convince American Christians of whatever you want to convince them about. By the way, Americans, Christian Zionists or not, are not going to keep the place as self-designed policemen of the world for much longer, and in a couple of decades who the h… would care what the Americans think anyway.
The Christian Right is a strong supporter of zionism. Where have you been? I suggest you google “Christian Zionism” and have a good long read. Christian zionism is a strong presence in the US government and in keeping its policies strongly pro-Israel.
The Chrisitan Right is not a monolith. The Evangelical right wing is pro Israel, (though not necessarily pro Jewish since they want them to convert ) but the Republican right, does have conservative Christians who belong to other churches, that are pro Palestinian and do not buy into the Armeggedon tale,
Richard Silverstein says
American Christianity & Christian evangelicals are not monoliths. But the Christiam right pretty much is. St. Mark’s is a perfect example of a progressive Christian church.
Name me one conservative Christian Republican who is pro-Palestinian. I’m waiting.
Oren is worried about the declining support from the Evangelical right wing, because the left wing which is pro peace is getting more and more vocal.
The CBS documentary was a good start, but we need a more pushy agenda, which has religous overtones (Christian)
Why this is important, is because the support the Kahanists and Likudniks enjoy from the US comes because of the Armeggedon cult. But the Republican right wing, conservative Christians are not pro Zionist in that they do not support the settlements. They support the two state solution as do most Americans. Only the Evangelical Armeggedon cult are propping up the settlements.
Palestinians need to counter this, with a similar religously overtoned Christian message, some thing they have not fully realised. They have a good weapon, but they hanv’t used it.
This is the achilles heel of Israel.
Ahad Haadam says
Palestinians do not have access to mainstream media as their antagonists do, so it’s hard to criticize them. Sure they should use the Christian kryptonite more in their PR as it’s a fact that most Christian Zionists, gullible and misled people, are not aware of.
Yes, I could think of quite a few things they could do with a few million in budget but they are outgunned, outnumbered and outpowered by Zionist Jews who are part of the ruling elite of the West. That’s part of their tragedy. However, truth comes out eventually. It may take a while but you can’t fool all the people all the time.
by the way, Ahad, that’s a great blog you have there. From the IDF to realisation is sure a big step 🙂
Ahad Haadam says
Thanks. Yes, it’s a big step and it takes years to part with the tribe and jump the fence in favor of justice.
RE: “Pro-Israel advocacy groups like StandWithUs are quick to denounce so-called violations on free speech when Ambassador Oren’s speeches are disrupted. But in this instance, the community has circled the wagons and shut off free and open debate. Their message: do as we say and not as we do.” ~ R.S.
SEE: Can Jewish Liberals Transcend the Wiesel Doctrine? Countering the Israel Lobby’s Dominance, by Alan Nasser, Counterpunch, 5/29/12
ENTIRE COMMENTARY – http://www.counterpunch.org/2012/05/29/countering-the-israel-lobbys-dominance/
David Nelson says
Tip for Israel: If Ambassador Oren re-brands the way in which Rachel Corrie’s murder is perceived here, the PNW may develop a more favorable opinion of the apartheid state.
We don’t like it when you kill our youth.
They’d have a more favorable opinion from the world if they’d also stop killing Palestinians.
Bob Mann says
Opinion of Israel does not become more favorable when fewer Palestinians are killed. Look at the numbers.
So they should just keep on killing Palestinians, or what?