Monday, October 19, 2009
Michael Oren: an American in DC
So is Israeli Ambassador to the US Michael Oren going to address the J Street convention? It's not clear. Kishkushim had high hopes for American Jewish/Israeli relations upon his appointment. I can't say that I am terribly informed about what this organization represents, amounts to, how it functions. But a quick glance at their website gives the impression that it's an organization that positions itself as an alternative source of power to the demonized Israel Lobby of "K Street." Hence the name. They have a political action committee (PAC) to support their own candidates. It looks like the real thing. The positions? I haven't gone through the policy papers, but I would be interested to know if there is one in there that really pisses Oren off. What these guys seem to be is the mainstream of American Jewry: a lot of the secular, the Reform leadership, some of the intellectuals (see Michael Chabon), the part of the Obama crowd that's tuned into the Middle East. So it's a real limiting case for the Israeli representation in Washington. To what extent are they going to assuage the concerns of an American Jewish public that is largely skeptical if not outright contemptuous of the status quo in the territories? Bibi thinks that the status quo is safe -- and you can hear Oren saying that too in the Ha'aretz piece. However indignant the Israeli leadership is about J Street, they should hold their noses, if they must, and deal. It's the right thing to do.