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June 24, 2015 5:38 pm

Former Ambassador Oren: Obama Policy Has Hardened Israeli Leaders Against Peace Process

avatar by Eliezer Sherman

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Michael Oren promotes his new book, "Ally," New York Synagogue Rodeph Shalom. Photo: Courtesy

Michael Oren promotes his new book, “Ally” at New York Synagogue Rodeph Shalom. Photo: Courtesy

The Obama administration’s policy toward Israel and its leaders has hardened Israeli decision makers and hurt the peace process, Israeli lawmaker and former ambassador Michael Oren said.

“Israel will only make concessions to the Palestinians when it feels secure,” Oren told an audience at New York’s Congregation Rodeph Shalom synagogue on Tuesday, promoting his new book called Ally: My Journey Across the American-Israeli Divide, based on his experience as ambassador.

Oren said the lack of daylight between previous administrations and Israeli leaders had allowed former prime ministers to make concessions to the Palestinians, whereas the Obama administration’s reversal of this policy stymied peace efforts.

“Because there was no daylight, Arik Sharon felt empowered to remove Israeli settlements from Gaza in 2005,” Oren explained, referring to the late former Israeli prime minister. “And because there was no daylight … [former prime minister] Ehud Olmert was able to offer Palestinian statehood to [Palestinian Authority President] Mahmoud Abbas.” The latter Olmert-Abbas deal would have seen Israel withdraw from 93% of the West Bank in exchange for peace.

“It is in the absence of the principle [of no daylight] that we have not had more progress toward peace,” Oren explained. “When we feel secure that is when we make concessions. When we’re knocked on the head that is when we buckle down.”

The American-born Oren, who was ambassador from 2009-2013, said his “repeated plea to the [Obama] administration always was: try love.”

Both Olmert and Sharon were in office during the former presidency of George W. Bush. About a week ago, Oren wrote a piece for the Wall Street Journal that insisted the Obama administration had abandoned two core principles of the U.S.-Israeli relationship: “no daylight” and “no surprises.”

In the WSJ piece, which proved incendiary and even drew an apology from the head of Oren’s Israeli parliamentary party, the former ambassador posited that the Obama administration had intentionally undermined relations with Israel as part of its foreign policy.

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  • ted weiss

    “In the WSJ piece, which proved incendiary and even drew an apology from the head of Oren’s Israeli parliamentary party”
    Why do you need to apologize for stating the Truth?

  • Let’s remember: There is no such thing as a “Palestinian”.Even the Arabs said this in the 50’s and 60’s.
    Remember also Arafat after the ’67 war: “We can’t beat Israel militarily, so we shall beat them with propaganda. From now on the refugees of ’48 shall be known as ‘Palestinians’. It’s in our accurate history books. Some people say the Philistines preceded these “Palestinians” of today. WRONG. The Philistines died out over 1400 years ago. Oy! I’ve made my point. So if there is no such thing as a “Palestinian” those who call themselves that today obviously have no claim to land anywhere, let alone present-day Israel or its environs.

  • I have long said, this isn’t about land, but extermination of a religion and culture not accepted by another. I have actually asked the question, what if there was no ‘holy land’. Say a natural disaster, dissolving the place into nothing. Would you still fight? Well, the answer was chilling and saddened me greatly. The answer was over and over, “we have the right to kill all non believers”. I’ve read and re-read everything, from both sides, also, non-biased writings. I come to the conclusion that Israel must protect herself in every way possible or face genocide. Those in power rejected all and any attempts to recognize Israel’s right to exist. Don’t start with who was there first, because when you look at it, there have been many successors and each took their place with the right to rule. So that argument is mute. Israel is the rightful successor, having won in a defensive war. Many times. Sadly, it will continue, because when one culture wants another’s elimination, there is no talking. I hope Israel does not repent, or give up any more land, because they will only make themselves vulnerable. Might I remind you, on 911, there was one who wished our extermination, right here in America. This will continue until education and humanity replaces a hatred, for no other reason, than to not accept that you exist.

  • David Goshen

    In the debate on the peace process three major issues are conveniently forgoten or overlooked.The first is is the Arab Refugees wish to return to a Palestinean State.
    the second is the complete lack of human rights in Gaza whose people are severly suppressed and subject to loss of lives from failure to allow them to take cover in underground shelters during Israeli Bombing
    built by Hamas and the ease with which Fatah supporters are liquidated during the last Gaza without trial as Israeli spies and the third is Hamas preventing of rebuilding of Gaza by the Hamas Malitias forcing citizens to sell their suppies of building supplies on the black market thus diverting their use to building and rebuilding tunnels.

  • RobiMac

    Good! Keep on with that attitude because Israel needs to annihilate them, not make peace with them.

  • Plain Talk

    The blame on the Arab side is on so many fronts that it overwhelms common sense to think that they want peace. On the other hand, the Jewish side with its policy of settlement expansion while supposedly wanting peace and that “everything” is on the table is also completely disingenuous.
    Too bad that Israeli’s dont realize how much damage this policy has created. It is the number one reason why neutral outsiders think the government of Israel lies and cannot be trusted on anything

    • Two States – Greater Israel for the Jewish people as guaranteed by International law and treaties after WW1 and Jordan that was originally part of the territory allocated to the Jewish people under 1920 international treaties and Jordan has 75% of its people are Arab-Palestinians and the 120,440 sq. km. or 75,000 sq. mi. (5-6 times the size of Israel) the Arab countries confiscated from the million plus Jewish families they persecuted and expelled from Arab countries and confiscated all their assets.
      That should settle the refugee problem once and for all.
      But the Arabs will not be satisfied until they get all of Israel without the Jews and they do not hide their intention.
      YJ Draiman

      If IDF wants it could turn all the roads and infrastructure in Gaza to rubble, so count your blessing and be aware that pushing the envelope too far will have dire consequences for Gaza.
      If you check history, you will find that Gaza was Jewish territory.

      Israel – It is your duty and obligation, you must defend your family and citizens against Hamas rockets without constraints or limitations, no-holds-barred, anything less is a dereliction of duty. This applies also to any acts of terror and violence by anyone. No response is strong enough. Anybody who thinks otherwise is committing desertion of family and friends to the atrocities of evil and terror.
      It is up to Israel to defend its people. In the past, history has shown the world stood idle while Jewish people, men, women and children were slaughtered.
      YJ Draiman

  • jack shnaier

    When a Jew scrapes & bows his head before a ruler,he has been shown no respect.I feel sorry for the liberal Jewish community,because they bow their heads & arselick Obama who they think will save Israel & the Middle East.History has shown that Obamas Middle East policy has already created havoc,resulting in thousands of deaths of Arabs in Iraq,Syria ,Egypt & now Yemen.If & when the shit hits the fan.Obama must take full responsibilty.

  • The problem with mr obama is that he does not read history and act according to that. The withdrawal of Israel from South lebanon made both the christians and the jews vulnerable to the rocket attacks of Hezbollah. the withdrawal from gaza has made the international fringe elements to launch flotillas only and not the stoppage of rocket attacks. For 444 days the americans were held as hostages in iran. But America does not have the guts to stand against it. Now Mr obama has allowed the relatives of the hostages to deal with the terrorists to give ransom money.Will they behave like this to Mr Stalin of Soviet union?

  • steven L

    And most liberal Jews will continue to vote left because Israel has no meaning for most of them. They will get into the same situation as the Jews of Europe!!! It is a matter of time.
    The Democrats are moving towards Socialism very quickly and socialists are in general anti Jews.

  • Quick Facts about Giving Up Land in Exchange for Peace:

    500 American Indian nations gave their land in exchange for peace.

    Their reward:

    the genocide of 500 American Indian nations.

    Britain gave Hitler land (Austria) in exchange for peace.

    The result: WWII and the Holocaust.

    If giving up land in exchange for peace is such a great idea, then why did America not attempt to end the Cold War by offering the Russians land in exchange for peace?

    If giving up land in exchange for peace is such a great idea, then why is Israel the ONLY country in the world which is expected to do it?

  • jerry goodman

    It is a sad commentary to see a formerly respected historian and diplomat fall so far from grace. Mr.Oren has decided his current mission is to become a salesman for his book. That’s fine. But not when it involves distorting historic events. While serious scholars, academics, and community leaders have pointed to his flaws elsewhere, the Algemeiner has studiously reported Oren’s attacks on President Obama as if they were Torah m’Sinai. Well, no matter, the truth will out. Jerry Goodman

    • I am unaware of ANY scholars criticizing the Oren book.
      Isn’t your comment about Oren being a formerly respected scholar/diplomat more than a bit patronizing? You may not like his point of view, but the fact is, he IS a historian by training, and WAS a party to US-Israel relations from 2009-2013. Why do you conclude that he is wrong, and that you (who I presume to be neither an academician nor with diplomatic insights) are correct?



  • Michael Fox

    Bibi owes Obama a huge debt of gratitude. It was the President who attempted to influence Israel’s elections against Bibi Netanyahu but his interference in Israeli politics had just the opposite affect. The Israeli voters were incensed at Obama’s blatant meddling in their elections. A bad sore loser who continuously gets out-foxed by Bibi, the President allowed his personal frustration and narcissistic agenda to put Netanyahu over the top. Obama fell mouth first into Bibi’s political trap.

    • Matthew

      Bibi for President, 2016!!!

  • Paul Lockwood

    I agree Obama intentionally undermined relations with Israel as part of his ant-American-anti-Israel foreign policy. Obama’s success in these foreign policy efforts, however, is due to the Republicans.

    Republicans have given Obama a free reign on foreign policy. They handed him a huge policy win with a trade bill that will destroy the American worker and soon a deal with Iran, which will be America’s complete undoing. It’s the Republican’s fault for not blocking these efforts and they had the power to do so. Americans should hold every Republicans accountable for allowing Obama’s policies to succeed. They sold out Israel and the American people.

  • Kerry M Berger

    This is such nonsense. Blaming Obama for the failure and incompetence of both Israeli and Palestinian leaders to seriously negotiate on the basis of the Oslo Accords. Cut the garbage out Mr. Former US Ambassador. This blame game is only going to escalate damage to US-Israeli relations. Intransigence to get off occupied territories by focusing on expanding territory is NOT the appropriate response. Withdraw from Eastern Jerusalem, then we might have a chance at peace. I wouldn’t be surprised if the US votes to abstain from any action taken by the Palestinians to complain about Israel. To some extent Israel readily deserves the criticism; so do the Palestinians as well.

    • Paul Lockwood

      I disagree that Israel should leave Jerusalem under any circumstance. It belongs to the Jewish people. It’s their homeland. Period.


      Mr. Oren, the very idea that President Obama is out to destroy Israel as many and you have indicated, is PURE nonsense. The fact that this President provided the most armaments for Israel’s security more than any other President is completely ignored. The idea that Bibi was used by the Republican Party against Obama is also completely ignored. We understand that the SECURITY OF ISRAEL is the top of any agenda for Israel as well as for the USA. In addition to the security of the USA. Bibi has not reached out to Obama to make things right. He has to be first to talk to the President to smooth the atmosphere.

      • Mandrake

        “The fact that this President provided the most armaments for Israel’s security more than any other President is completely ignored”
        More than any other president? If this is true, this is irrelevant. Obama, or his administration, held or delayed the delivery of armaments in the last Gaza war. Why? What excuse?

    • Jeff Sims

      Kerry Berger: Do you not realize that Israel already tried unilateral withdrawn with Gaza…what did it get..Hamas firing rockets and now even more pressure from the likes of you to do it again. Don’t you think that before Israel makes any concessions the US or France or anybody can get the Palestinians to get rid of Hamas and give Gaza back to the people who live there. No Hamas…no more blockade…it is that simple.

    • maish goretsky

      I bet in 2005 ,you would have said “give the Palestinians Gaza and then there will be peace”

      Jerusalem was a holy city to the Jewish people millennia before there was such a thing as the Palestinians.

      there is no such thing as “evenhandedness’when it comes to our people’s survival.

      Have you been to Israel?

      Do you personally know ,or have met any people with tattooed numbers on their forearm?

    • brenrod

      what utter rubbish, there is no occupied territory as the land belongs to the Jews. Perhaps you have been trained as a parrot who repeats the ludicrous falsities of others or perhaps you made up your fairy tales on your own.
      The only nonsense from Orens is that he believes that the sun shines out f the US posterior and that Israel simply needs “love” to give the squatters from arabia the jewish lands. The rest of the nonsense here belongs to you. I believe you are a BDS church troll with a false jewish name because your parroted mantras are right from their playbook and their trolls use fake jewish personas.

    • Perhaps M. Berger would be kind enough to define what he means by “occupied territories.”

      • The U.N. cannot create states, it can only recommend and so can other nations only recommend and not create a state that never existed before in history. If they want an Arab-Palestinian
        state, it already exists, it is Jordan which has taken 80% of Jewish allocated land.
        In 1947, the UN Gen. Assembly passed Resolution 181 recommending the partition of Palestine. This did not create the State of Israel. The General Assembly does not create countries, make laws, or alter the Mandates (Mandates were a big brother system for setting up independent countries to be led by its native populations, with historic national connections to the territories. The Jewish people 4,000 year history to the land of Israel. In Jewish prayers the aspirations to rebuilt Jerusalem is recited 3 times a day). The Partition plan, was merely a recommendation. The resolution also violated Article 5 of the Mandate for Palestine and therefore it also violated Article 80 of the UN
        Charter. It was therefore an illegal resolution. What we call the State of Israel, along with her “legal” borders, was established in April 1920 with the San Remo Resolution which adopted the Balfour declaration and was confirmed by the 1920 Treaty of Sevres and Lausanne. Palestine was created for the first time in history as a country. It was created as the reconstitution of the Jewish National Home. The Partition Plan in 1947 was the result of a 1/4 century of illegal British policy that ripped internationally protected Jewish rights from the Jewish People, as the British allowed hundreds of thousands of Arabs to pour across the border from Syria and Egypt into Palestine. The Jewish State’s reconstitution was a fact 25 years before the UN existed. The Mandate was there to protect its
        survival. which the British violated again and again, and it was terminated, not because the terms were completed, but because the British fled with their tails between their legs, and there was no
        one there to administer the Mandate.

        It is time to implement population transfer for all the Arabs. (Just like was done after WW2) for those who promote and create violence, riot and attack Jews and anyone else. They could be relocated to the homes and land (120,440 sq. km.) of the million Jewish families and their children, persecuted and expelled from Arab countries or can relocate to Jordan which is 75% Arab-Palestinians. (Arabs in the West Bank aka Judea and Samaria carry Jordanian Passports).
        YJ Draiman.

    • Scott

      What planet did you just arrive from?
      The Palestinian “movement” was just the first major Islamist “movement” of the 20th Century which has assisted in the foment of ISIS, Hamas and other such joyous groups.

      Wake up! The Palestinians do not now or have ever wanted a “State”. They want a base of operations – to continue the true goal of pushing Israel into the sea.

      You clearly haven’t been paying much attention or perhaps have been reading JStreet?

      • Steve B

        Exactly! 100% right on.

    • Dante

      Stupidity & folly masquerading as high-minded & sober admonition.
      To take but one illustration: this man believes that the 1948 Jordanian ethnic cleansing of Jerusalem should be extended & vindicated. The Jewish Quarter? Forget it. The Western Wall? Forget that too. Mt of Olives? Forget it. The Temple Mount? “Jews out.” In the perverse opinion of this writer, that is just.

      This is not to mention that:
      1. The Jews have constituted a majority of the Jerusalem’s population for over 150 years.
      2. Only under the Jews have peoples of ALL faith been given access to their holy sites.
      3. The city was the capital of the Jews & no other nation.
      4. The Jewish association with the city goes back thousands of years, long before the Muslim conquest (yeah, genius, the Muslims established their claim on the basis of conquest. It takes a contemptible fool to exalt that.

    • Mandrake

      The objective of the so called Palestines and the rest of the Muslim world is to wipe out Israel of the map and conquest the rest of the other countries. Israel has more guts than those countries who do not want to recognize the Islamic threat. If Israel falls, so will the rest. Palestinians do not want peace. Everything else is nonsense. Wake up and stop the BS.

    • Eighty Percent

      With Jews like this and many of your readers of Algemeiner, I understand why HE created Nazi Germany. But the assimilated, wanna-be goy, uninformed, Torah ignorant Jew endeavers to repeat history. Many are also a product of Algemeiner’s manipulative & misleading propaganda.


      At the time of Oslo my father was working with the Palestinians on economic development, public health and education & training programs. He was hopeful that Oslo would result in 2 states living in peace side by side. He saw his role as helping the Palestinians to develop a viable, self-governing state.

      The Palestinian authority continued to teach hatred of Jews and the goal of annihilation of the Zionist entity. They encouraged and financially supported terror not only on the West Bank but in Israel proper.

      He soon learned that any concession made to the Palestinians is just another stage in their explicit objective to drive the Jews out of every inch of Palestine and redeem every inch of sacred Muslim lands.

      He learned his lesson. Apparently, many liberal Jews both in Israel and in the United States are delusional and self-destructive. As a Christian I have found myself defending Israel repeatedly from its Jewish attackers. It is not that I am so pro-Israel, it is that they are so anti-Israel and so delusional when it comes to recognizing the realities of the Palestinian Authority and of the entire area of the Middle East.

    • SC4Z – Secular Christians for Zion

      No, YOU cut the nonsense, Ms. Berger. You’re sounding much like a sentimental BBC British banger who pleasures herself by mouthing the BFO mantra that urges piecing away another large chunk of the jewish Homeland in exchange for air kisses from arab intransigents who have repeatedly made it clear that “peace” is not an objective in their playbook. As for your babble about “occupied territories” be advised that these stomach-churning utterances were first spewed by that bloody Egyptian-born terrorist, Yasser Arafat, the Clintons, and regurgitated by the BFO and then by the cowed and cosseted Israeli pols who were doing their utmost to make themselves “lovable”. By the way, we suspect the sappy metaphors about “no space between US and Israel” obscure a hella-lot of back-room state department deals favoring the Saudis that all involved hope never to see the light of day. And If anyone hopes for a peace based on honesty, they must first absorb the Levy report and study the treatise “Jewish Sovereignty over the Land of Israel-The Legal Foundation and Boundaries of Israel under International Law, author: Prof. Howard Grief. And while you’re at it, familiarize yourself about the history of how the “new” nation of Saudi Arabia was established in 1932, twenty years after the San Remo Resolution recognized Palestine as the Jewish Homeland. Peres, with his farm-boy education, apparently knew nothing about that. The “occupiers” in the lands of Israel are arab foreigners who were allowed to swarm into Israel when Peres was doing his jive to get himself a Peace Prize.

    • Stan Nadel

      Eastern Jerusalem? You mean the area including the Jewish Quarter that was conquered by Jordan and where all the surviving Jews were expelled? Almost nobody granted any legitimacy to this Jordanian conquest before the Israelis conquered it in 1967. So just why should the Israelis give it up?

    • elixelx

      Oren is a respected and much-read historian; he was ambassador to the US; he is a menber of the Knesset…
      who the hell are you to question his honesty, his judgement, his opinion.
      AH! one more barry-boy acolyte who feels that his lord and master can do no wrong!

    • Eli L

      Kerry Berger; I have a better proposal, withdray from the whole of Israel. That will “ensure” a lasting peace in the ME. Not in your life!

    • Having spent considerable time researching the basis of the Palestinian claim to the West Bank and Gaza, and finding none, I am interested as to the basis of your comment that the WB is “occupied”, ie.illegal, necessitating Israel’s withdrawal. I am also curious in whether you’ve read Oren’s book. As you well know, Oren is not just a talking head, or mouthpiece for Netanyahu,
      he’s a former ambassador and academician, and his comments represent a rare opportunity to hear from one who was an actual participant in US-Israel relations. That you do not agree with Oren’s criticism of Obama is one thing. For you to repudiate that criticism another.

    • Roy

      Yes Kerry, withdraw from East Jerusalem and we MIGHT get a peace.If that doesn’t work, withdraw from Jaffa and we MIGHT get a peace.And if that doesn’t work,withdraw from Tel Aviv and we MIGHT get a peace. We can withdraw all the way to Tiberias and maybe then we MIGHT get a peace.
      The actions of the PA and Hamas should show the world that they DO NOT want a peace. Have you already forgotten
      the rockets from Gaza? Weakness and appeasement will not bring peace. And following the dictates of Obama will lead to the destruction of Israel.

  • Yale

    Obama outht to consider that his abandonment of commitments made by his predecessors will factor into whether a future Israeli government will be willing to trust any commitment made by a future president as well. If not, Obama may well have killed the “peace process” once and for all.

  • jb willikers

    It’s very believable that Obama deliberately undermined the US/Israel relationship. In fact, the muslim bias, and it’s corollary, or mirror image effect on Israel may be the only consistent theme of his foreign policy. His “make believe” that he is a Jew is a pitiful over reaction that stems from how obvious it has all become.

  • HaroldT

    And 69% of American Jews voted for Obama the second time. Jewry in America is doomed.

    • Paul Lockwood

      American Jews were definitely fooled. If he were running for another term, however, he would not have the Jewish vote now. He’s handed the country over to the Muslims. I would wager any amount of money he formally becomes a Muslim like his father after leaving office. It doesn’t matter what he says he is, his heart and should is Muslim, or he would be protecting both Jews and Christians. He doesn’t say or do anything…but if you are a Shiite, he’s right there in your defense.

    • Eli L

      That is slightly better than the about 80% voting for him in 2008,

  • Wm. J. Levy

    I meant to say anti-Israel in the first paragraph not church.

  • Wm. J. Levy

    If not for the Jewish vote Obama never would have won the first time or the second time despite the fact that Obama attended an anti-Jew and anti-church for 20 years with Jerimiah Wright.

    What is wrong with the Jews that they have to show everyone how nice they are. It never worked and it is playing out right now that Obama doesn’t care about Israel or the Jews. Al Sharpton has more of Obama’s ear than any Jew and the fact that he’s known as the go-to-guy at the White House is very disturbing.

    Obama will go down in history as the worst president we ever had and maybe for the destruction of Israel, which I pray not.

    • brenrod

      its called Stockholm syndrome whereby those abused, stalked, libeled, swindled, tortured and slaughtered in captivity are in such fear of their masters that they ape them.

    • Stan

      Arguably he would have lost Florida without the Jewish vote. That would not have made the difference in the election; He had plenty of electoral votes in reserve.

  • d

    Israel has, to its detriment, tried to establish and sustain a “peace process.” but, there cannot be a process with the aim of peace if one of the putative treating parties is determined to eliminate the other, with minimal coercion, if that appears possible, and by the use of any and all means, if it does not.

    That is why the recognition of the Jewish character of the State of Israel is imperative. (And, far from being a newly imposed Israeli condition, this was ALWAYS what “Israel” meant; the determination of the p.a. to oppose such recognition was, in fact, novel and demonstrated its unwillingness to allow any agreement to terminate its claim against Israel. proof of the recency of the p.a. position was arafat’s agreement to “2 states for 2 peoples,” i.e. one for the Jews and one for the Arabs who have lately called themselves “palestinian.”!!!)


  • Judea & Samaria MUST BE ANNEXED !

    • brenrod

      of course you are correct: the Jews are the only people who would think that keeping their homeland, that which rightfully belongs to them, should be given to the receivers of stolen property.

    • Scott

      AMEN !

  • Robert Weintraub

    It is difficult to believe that Israel will go back to anything like the ’67 borders no matter how much or little daylight there is between the US and Israel.