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Ally: My Journey Across the American-Israeli Divide

av Michael B. Oren

MedlemmarRecensionerPopularitetGenomsnittligt betygOmnämnanden
1113190,948 (4)3
"New York Times bestselling author Michael B. Oren's memoir of his time as Israel's ambassador to the United States--a period of transformative change for America and a time of violent upheaval throughout the Middle East--provides a frank, fascinating look inside the special relationship between America and its closest ally in the region,"--Amazon.com.… (mer)

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Here is a very articulate individual who can bridge the is Israeli-American divide. He has a foot in both worlds and can address this first hand.

There are numerous important events that occurred throughout his appointment. However, one of the most interesting aspects of the book is his sterling analysis of Obama. Unprepared and naïve Obama bumbles through the ally’s relationship that the author is careful to characterize as guarded but clearly his actions harmed Israel.
  gmicksmith | Jun 8, 2018 |
The most exciting thing about this book was the furor accompanying its publication. In it, author - previously Israeli ambassador to the USA - Michael Oren revealed that it had been President Obama's stated intention to create some “daylight" between the USA and Israel on the diplomatic front. Oren - now a member of the Knesset for a party in the government coalition - was pilloried not just by American political figures, but also by Israeli ones too - including the leader of his own party. It was simply not acceptable to reveal such confidences - even though he had completed his diplomatic stint, and even though the nature of Obama's attitude toward Israel was hardly a revelation to anybody.

Michael Oren is better known as a historian than as a diplomat or writer of political memoires; his "Six Days of War" is the definitive account of the 1967 war, and his other work about the history of US involvement in the Middle East has some merit too. The problem is that history - by definition - requires time before one gets a true perspective of what happened and what its significance was. For the same reason that I prefer reading monthly news digests and analyses to daily - or even weekly - news stories, I prefer reading real history rather than a rehash of yesterday's headlines – which is how much of this book felt.

There is much to admire about Oren – an American, who made a successful Aliyah, and does well in Israel. The first chapter is essentially an autobiographical account of his life in Israel, meeting his wife and the growth of their family; in it, he recounts his army experiences and also his spells outside Israel at Princeton and Georgetown universities, during which time he got to know various American political figures. These experiences were important in later qualifying him for the job as ambassador. On his appointment to this role, it was necessary for him to renounce his US citizenship; Oren, who while fully committed to his life as an Israeli, had never lost his close identification with land of his birth describes this traumatic development in the chapter entitled “the Perforated Passport”.

Oren dutifully covers the ground on issues that engaged him during his period in office - The Mavi Mara incident, the ongoing imprisonment of Jonathan Pollard, negotiations with the Palestinians, settlements, the ups and – mainly - downs of Bibi Netanyahu’s relationship with Obama. I may, at the time, have missed one or two nuances in the dynamic of the US-Israel relationship; but Oren adds nothing to my overall appreciation of the situation; I got no new insights.

More interesting and disturbing are the changes in American Jewry that he detects after a 30-year absence. The inexorable process of assimilation and intermarriage which inevitably has diluted many American Jews’ identification with their religion and with Israel. The fact that Holocaust memorial alongside other genocidal narratives has begun replacing Israel as the centerpiece of Jewish identity even for many committed American Jews. How Tikun Olam, “repairing the world” defined in its broadest humanitarian, rather than traditional Jewish sense, has sidelined Israel as the focal point of many young liberal American Jews. These trends are symptoms of what Commentary founder Norman Podhoretz described as the substitution of Judaism by liberalism as the religion of many American Jews. In a political culture that increasingly disapproves of all war or militarism, it is harder for American Jews to understand and sympathise with the existential nature of Israel’s struggle with the Palestinians.

If you feel that you missed out on some of the ups and downs of Israel’s relationship with the USA over the last few years, then this book will certainly bring you more or less up-to-date. If you like the kind of who-said-what-to-whom stories that the late Yehuda Avner’s book “The Prime Ministers” was full of, then you will enjoy reading this one too. In case you were wondering, I got bored with that one too. ( )
  maimonedes | Sep 11, 2016 |
Michael Oren covers decades of his involvement with Israel and America. For almost half a century he has loved both countries, demonstrating his respect and admiration for both. In this book, he tries to illuminate the magnificence and beauty of Israel’s accomplishments and the value of its achievements and its democracy to the rest of the world; it is a democracy that stands alone in the heart of a Middle East surrounded by enemies that have tried to annihilate it in the past and still want to in the present. He concentrates on revealing the relationship between Israel and America as it morphed over several administrations. To this end, he often points out the unjust ways in which Israel has often been portrayed by the United Nations, the Palestinians and, recently, by the United States, under the guise of the Obama administration.
Consistently in the Arab/Israeli crisis, a one sided view has been presented to the world by the Arab nations and the UN, but, for the first time, it has been maligned by an American administration, as well. Whether or not you agree with the current President’s policies toward any of the countries in the Middle East, it is a fact that never before has any President or its administration been so condemnatory and, to coin my own term, “uneven-handed” when dealing with Israel or its leaders. Heretofore, the image of Israel was important to the leaders of the United States, and it would never endanger it, or make more vulnerable, that tiny nation, by exhibiting loose lips announcing negative interpretations of events, carelessly assigning blame to Israel for casualties incurred while defending itself against attacks. Never before has the US openly sided with terrorists that launched the attacks. Some might say that this administration has taken the shaming of Israel to an art form by also employing Jews to do the dirty work, in many cases; Jews like Rahm Emanuel and David Axelrod, who represent the extreme left wing of the Democrat party and not necessarily the best interests of Israel, are vocally negative and even insulting, stooping to name-calling. The carefully chosen and perhaps naïve Jews and liberals have been placed in positions of importance to send messages that have presented a more destructive picture of Jews and Israel than ever before, creating more danger for Jews everywhere as evidenced by an increasing amount of anti-Semitism worldwide.
When America indicates its disinterest and perhaps its lessened concern for the support of Israel, it is open season on such behavior everywhere. Sadly, this administration has often undermined Israel’s image while at the same time it has strengthened and propped up the image of Arab countries, dictatorships and terrorists, dismissing their behavior, often downplaying it, and reprimanding Israel and its leaders for exercising their right to defend themselves, publicly considering their methods unnecessarily heavy-handed, even while saying they have the right to defend themselves from the attacks which themselves are not called heavy-handed. The administrations remarks underplay the fear that Israel’s citizens are forced to live with everyday, of rockets launched into their country intended to destroy their cities and maim and murder as many victims as they can in an attempt to wipe Israel from the face of the map and/or to destroy its economy and tourism industry.
While the leaders of the United States swear they have Israel covered, that they have its back, they send mixed messages with the world watching as the U.S. constantly retreats from promises it has made finding one or another eloquent excuse. Obama is a very able speaker, but sometimes his words and his actions do not converge. Obama encouraged the Arab Spring with his speech in Cairo, but then did little to encourage democracy there. His actions did not speak louder than his words. Rewording a quote, he seems to speak loudly but carries a small stick, unlike Theodore Roosevelt. For failures, he blames everyone else. He has blamed George Bush’s invasion of Iraq for the rise of Isis when it was his failed Middle Eastern policies and early withdrawals from countries that needed our support that caused it to spread. He has drawn red lines which behave like a movable feast, repositioning themselves or even disappearing as needed. Humiliating Israel and its leaders for misdemeanors while ignoring the Palestinian felonies should have decent Americans up in arms. Muslims are demanding an end to Israel. These are the same people who took down the Towers, the same who demand, as well, death to America. One has to wonder if Obama’s administration is more interested in his legacy than in preserving world peace and America’s superiority and honor. He insists that the Americans have no stomach for war, but do they have a stomach for the ultimate chaos that will ensue when the world spirals out of control, when nuclear weapons proliferate?
As each page turns, the reader is given a glimpse of what went on behind the scenes during various important negotiations and conversations, during times when there were differences of opinion, during times that the Obama administration tried to dictate Israeli politics, even as it criticized Israel’s attempt to influence that of America. Obama often stroked one side of the Israeli cheek as he slapped the other in an embarrassing public display. An interesting comment was made by Oren at the end of his book. He stated that, ironically, Arab enemies have grown closer to their Israeli enemy in their common fear of the American President. Too often, he says one thing and does another, he does not support his allies, he betrays his friends and reneges on promises, he exacts retribution for perceived slights; as the adult in the room, he has very thin skin. Because of his past performance, can he be trusted? He tends to speak out of both sides of his mouth, using double speak to avoid taking a stand, and when a stand is taken, he often does not defend his own position and is slow or unwilling to act in a timely fashion. His goal does not always appear to be to protect our allies or Israel, as all other Presidents have done, instead he seems to want to preserve the global alliances and diminish the importance of America as a superpower in the world. He wants the U.S. to be reduced to just another member of the UN, another country at the negotiating table, but a country without its former power.
If the current situation continues, Jews may soon have to come to grips with their new disdained world status, made worse by Obama’s politics, made worse by his threats of same, and perhaps by his effort to make it a self-fulfilling prophecy, and by their own behavior, by not acting in their own self-interest. There is an increase in the jaded views of Jews themselves; they have forgotten the words “never again” and could be setting the stage for another genocide. They appear to be worshiping at the feet of the God of Pollyanna, while they ignore the G-d of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, fooling themselves into believing they are only “Americans” as they once thought they were only “Germans”. But they were then and are now, simply Jews. Do they not see that this administration has begun to mirror the behavior of the UN, which has always been anti Israel and pro-Palestinian, ignoring the terrorist attacks, ignoring the fact that they started the wars, and that their lies were often inaccurate portrayals of the truth, yet their side was always accepted as gospel and publicized while Israel, although innocent, was condemned?
One must, in the end, ask why Obama’s administration has deliberately shown such disrespect to the leader of Israel. Do American Jews want Netanyahu to be blackmailed by Obama? Bibi lost a brother in the fight for Israel, the country that welcomes all Jews to one degree or another. Former Ambassador Oren also gave up a family member and suffered the injury of another, in the support of Israel. His wife’s sister died in a bus bombing and his son was wounded during his tour of duty. So how can any outsiders, especially those who have not made any superlative sacrifices, even presume to decide what is good for Israelis or what will benefit Israel, other than Israelis? This is the first administration to demand that Israel return to pre 1967 borders, not only an impossibility, but a non-negotiable item because it would endanger the security of Israel. The demand was made deliberately, to put Israel between a rock and a hard place, to embarrass the Netanyahu government and to influence the Israeli elections, the very objection he voiced when Netanyahu addressed our Congress when he was running for reelection. Obama’s efforts backfired, but it doesn’t diminish the interference or damage done by the demand. After reading this book, if nothing else, the reader should begin to wonder whether or not the United States is serious about having not only Israel’s back, but any ally’s back.
Oren has placed the reader’s eye and ear to the door of meetings that were not made public. He was prescient in his deductions but his warnings concerning Obama’s foreign policy went unheeded allowing Obama to single-mindedly continue to pursue his agenda. The reader will have to decide this for themselves, but there is ample information in this book to make them question the policies of the current government when it comes to dealing with all of its allies. Its many mistakes and unfulfilled promises have gone unreported or under reported by a liberal media that is engineering the presentation of news and information in order to support Obama. Honestly speaking, when a President implies that all those who disagree with him are stupid, how many do you believe will be courageous enough to stand up and disagree? Yet, what if it is the current administration’s policies that are stupid or faulty and the results wind up being deadly for Israel in the short term and Jews everywhere, in the long term? Read the book think seriously about why Obama is relinquishing our power by giving credence and rights, regarding Israel, to a UN that has been unfairly judging it for years. Is this administration going to say that giving the UN greater power and the Palestinians recognition is also the best deal that they can get, and it is better than no deal, as they have been saying about the deal with Iran? When it is once again too late because America has dragged its feet when coming to the table and/or its senses, will that excuse still be acceptable?
The flower children of the 60’s, preoccupied with sex and drugs, carrying flowers and smoking peace pipes, in the end only accomplished the dumbing down of our current culture. They are the professors and J Street followers of today, they are the mentors who are teaching our children. Naively, they believe that being pro-Palestinian is equal to being pro-peace when, in actuality, if their agenda succeeds, it probably signals the end of Israel as a Jewish state. All over college campuses evidence of anti-Israel sentiment and efforts to boycott Israel are rampant and increasing, largely due to their misguided efforts. They are Jews fighting Jews, and the world loves that circus. Political correctness is alive and well too, maligning those who disagree with their efforts and shutting down any dialogue by labeling it racism or making some other disparaging remark effectively shutting down the very free speech college used to foster, the very atmosphere where ideas used to germinate and grow.
A criticism of the book has been that it is self-serving, if it is, what was Obama’s reason for writing his many books, or Hillary’s for that matter? Regardless of where the reader stands on an issue, what cannot be denied is the double standard used when it comes to dealing with Israel when compared to other Middle Eastern nations or even African nations that frequently commit genocide. Sadly, Obama’s behavior has encouraged, intended or not, an atmosphere which has proliferated anti-Semitism, boycotts of Israel and chaos all around the Middle East and the world. To deny those facts is to deny reality. The book should be read and analyzed by every thinking Jew as well as every thinking American, because knowledge is the best weapon. When Americans finally have a stomach for war or for a show of strength, will it be too late? ( )
2 rösta thewanderingjew | Aug 21, 2015 |
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"New York Times bestselling author Michael B. Oren's memoir of his time as Israel's ambassador to the United States--a period of transformative change for America and a time of violent upheaval throughout the Middle East--provides a frank, fascinating look inside the special relationship between America and its closest ally in the region,"--Amazon.com.

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