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Former Ambassador for Israel Again Ambassador for a Smaller Israel

The former Israeli ambassador to the U.S. thinks that if the U.S. is unsuccessful in forcing Israel to give up land for nothing, Israel should do it all on its own.
If/when this round of peace negotiations fail, former Ambassador Oren thinks Israel should withdraw from the disputed territories

If/when this round of peace negotiations fail, former Ambassador Oren thinks Israel should withdraw from the disputed territories
Photo Credit: Gideon Markowicz/FLASH90

Have you seen the cartoon of a man holding a gun to his own head, with the caption, “Stop or I’ll shoot!”?  If so, you know where this column is going.

Recently retired Israeli Ambassador to the United States Michael Oren left his post after what must have seemed to him like four and a half very long years.

Now that Oren is no longer representing what the media he must love incessantly refers to as the hawkish Binyamin Netanyahu, the newly former ambassador is no longer diplomatically bound to have his mouth buttoned shut.

And with the new Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. firmly ensconced and actually comfortable with the positions of Israeli Prime Minister Netanayahu, Oren is once again speaking out of the side of his mouth connected to his inner Disengager.

Oren told an audience at Georgetown University in February of 2009, that he was amongst a minority of Israelis and was an outlier at the foundation where he then hung his hat: “I am one of the last remaining unilateralists.”

It was Oren’s belief in 2009, as it appears to remain so today, that in order for Israel to remain a Jewish state it would have to withdraw from the disputed territories popularly known as the West Bank.

What he said then was that in order for Israel to remain a Jewish State it had to maintain a Jewish majority and that in order for that to happen it would have to “redraw its borders and withdraw from its settlements in the West Bank.” (What Oren actually said was that Israel would have to withdraw its borders and withdraw from its settlements, but that only makes sense if what he meant to say was that the borders would have to be redrawn, not withdrawn.)

This past Saturday, Jan. 11, the day former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon died, a eulogy for Sharon penned by Michael Oren appeared on the CNN website.

The eulogy is relatively short, only 802 words, but Oren managed to get in some beautiful oratory. It opens with: “Written on every page of Israel’s history, in ink and in blood, is the name Ariel Sharon.” Oren is a masterful writer, a lovely speaker and appears to be a very decent man.

But.

Oren also managed to weave in to his presentatio of Sharon’s legacy the message that the former ambassador is still clinging to his earlier view that in order to save itself, tiny Israel must constrict still further.

Along the way Oren revealed that where he saw Sharon acting to protect Israel’s security, Oren saw those acts then and described those actions now as ones taken without considerations about peace. But when Sharon pulled out the Israelis he himself had placed in communities in Gaza, Oren described Sharon as “pivoting toward peace.”

Oren is still clinging to the idea that the further concentrated Jews are in a land called Israel, the more secure they will be.

Indeed, Oren concludes his ode to Sharon on CNN by using the public platform to promote his own view of a Smaller Israel.

He uses the opportunity to first compare secretary of state John Kerry to the (good) Sharon, the Sharon “pivoting toward peace.” Oren points to Kerry’s current efforts “to pursue a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians,” and says that Israelis are asking “what happens if the peace process fails?”

It is unclear how many Israelis are actually wandering through the streets asking that question. Most reliable polls show there are very few Israelis (let alone Palestinian or any other kinds of Arabs) who have for a single moment thought that this time the U.S. peace pipe would ignite a change in attitudes by the parties directly involved.  Nonetheless, that is how Oren wrote his opening for sharing his personal view, this one unfettered by diplomatic blinks and nods. Should this current peace process break down Israel should…..make itself smaller!  Why wait for the Palestinian Arabs to have to give up anything like, oh, incitement against Israel or educating their children to believe Jews slaughter Arabs for the fun of it?

About the Author: Lori Lowenthal Marcus is the US correspondent for The Jewish Press. She is a recovered lawyer who previously practiced First Amendment law and taught in Philadelphia-area graduate and law schools.


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