In a 90-minute conversation he conducted this week with the editorial board of The Jerusalem Post, one of the key messages Oren the diplomat tried to get across was that relations with the US are not as bad as most people like to think.Now, today's hot tip in Haaretz (via Laura Rozen):
True, there was a huge dustup during Vice President Joe Biden’s visit here in March; the US acquiesced in signing off on a UN NPT document that singled out Israel in May; and Washington in June wasn’t as robust in its support of Israel at the UN during the Gaza flotilla episode as some would have liked. But, Oren insisted, the sky over the US-Israeli relationship is not falling.
In fact, he said, running against the grain of conventional wisdom, the Obama administration was “as good if not better” on Israel than “many previous administrations,” and Obama’s chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, often portrayed in the Israeli media as the “bad guy” on Israel issues in the White House, was actually “a great asset.”
“There are disagreements, I’m not going to be Pollyannaish,” the personable and animated Oren said. “But there are two qualifiers you have to attach. One, we have had disagreements with other administrations in the past, and the litmus test with the relationship is not whether there are disagreements, but how you approach the disagreements.”
Israel's ambassador to Washington, Michael Oren, denied painting a dark picture of U.S.-Israeli relations during a briefing at the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem last week.Snap poll: which is the real Michael Oren? I suspect the results would be a tad lopsided...
Israeli diplomats say Oren described the current situation as a "tectonic rift" in which Israel and the United States are like continents drifting apart.
Oren's comments come in the run-up to the July 6 meeting between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and U.S. President Barack Obama at the White House.
Oren visited Israel over the past week, briefing Israelis at the ministry's North America and research divisions. Five Israeli diplomats, some of whom took part in the briefing or were informed about the details, said Oren described relations between the two countries in bleak terms.
According to the Israeli diplomats, Oren said relations between the two countries are not in a crisis because a crisis is something that passes. Oren opted to use terms from geology: "Relations are in the state of a tectonic rift in which continents are drifting apart."
Oren noted that contrary to Obama's predecessors - George W. Bush and Bill Clinton - the current president is not motivated by historical-ideological sentiments toward Israel but by cold interests and considerations. He added that his access as Israel's ambassador to senior administration officials and close advisers of the president is good. But Obama has very tight control over his immediate environment, and it is hard to influence him.
"This is a one-man show," Oren is quoted as saying.