Sorry. More on Obama and Oren

I find it an odd enterprise to defend a book’s claims by recourse to… the book’s claims (and the congratulatory words of the author’s friend). So I will limit myself to facts, not Mr. Oren’s assertions or impressions. Strongly felt though those impressions may be, the factual record must trump them.

I also wish to state (as I have in my writings on the topic for years) that I don’t deny the president’s antipathy for Prime Minister Netanyahu (which feeling is clearly mutual). It is the president’s concern for Israel qua Israel, not its current leader, that I maintain is rock-solid – and that is, lamentably, all too ignored by many in our community.

Which makes Mr. Oren’s book something of a side issue. But, all the same, I will again address the points Rabbi Menken responded to.

1) I don’t consider Mr. Oren to be evil incarnate, only unreasonably in a snit. And, again, neither his smarts nor his service are the issue. The issue is his judgment of the president (and, I might add, his armchair psychoanalysis of him, one of the book’s loopiest undertakings). As to the Haiti remarks, I think it has been well demonstrated that the omission of Israel at that time was anything but “egregious.”

2) If I didn’t previously understand Mr. Oren’s claim that “The U.S. and Israel always [in the past] could disagree but never openly,” I’m afraid I still don’t. Rabbi Menken provides Rashi on the statement, but, to my understanding of English, “never openly” means just that.

3) Whatever reason Mr. Obama had to not endorse the Bush letter – and I suspect it had to do, as with other things, with trying to lure the Palestinians to the peace table – nothing the president has done or suggested in any way indicates a hope for the “full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949” that the letter rightly calls unrealistic. I don’t know anything about “unwritten subtexts” (and it’s hard to imagine anyone does, if the alleged subtexts were unwritten), but yes, it’s no secret that Mr. Obama does not approve of Israeli building in contested areas. He considers such a freeze key to restarting negotiations. (Nor is it a secret that, despite that conviction, he has never threatened to withhold any aid from Israel to pressure it into a building moratorium.)

4) With regard to the “historically tight collaboration with Israel on critical issues of national security,” any of the many articles of the intended-to-remain-secret joint US-Israel Stuxnet effort will prove enlightening. As should be CIA Director John Brennan’s recent secret (well, at the time) trip to meet with, among others, Mossad intelligence chief Tamir Pardo, National Security Adviser Yossi Cohen and, yes, Prime Minister Netanyahu. U.S. intelligence-Israeli intelligence cooperaton under the Obama administration is, by the testimony of intelligence officials in both countries, closer than ever.

5) Please see what I wrote earlier about this. I see no need to add anything.

So, in conclusion (I hope! I’m behind in my day jobs!), I think Rabbi Menken and I must agree to disagree about what lies in Mr. Obama’s heart. Of course, neither he nor I (nor Mr. Oren) can know what lies there. But, as I wrote earlier, we can all join in the hope it is what I perceive: a determination to ensure Israel’s security.

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