Commentary Magazine


Posts For: May 3, 2009

Re: Re: Israeli Ambassador Michael B. Oren

Mazel tov to Michael Oren, who will be appointed Israel’s new ambassador to the United States. It is hard to imagine a better choice. Michael is a superb historian and strategic analyst; I can’t praise highly enough his Six Days of War: June 1967 and the Making of the Modern Middle East and Power, Faith, and Fantasy: America in the Middle East: 1776 to the Present. His insights on military topics are informed by his own service in the Israel Defense Forces; he was on the front lines during the invasion of Lebanon in 1982.

He is also also a gifted communicator, both oral and written. I remember running into Michael in northern Israel in the summer of 2006 while the war with Hezbollah was raging. Israel’s communications strategy at that point left much to be desired, while Hezbollah was all too effective in getting its warped narrative across. The leading Israeli government spokesmen were no match for this reservist wearing a mismatched uniform who made the case for the country and its armed forces with eloquence, vigor, and precision. If anyone can present Israel’s case at a time when the new administration seems to be toying with an opening to Hamas, it is Michael. Kudos to Bibi Netanyahu (another fluent English speaker) for selecting precisely the right man for this challenging assignment.

Mazel tov to Michael Oren, who will be appointed Israel’s new ambassador to the United States. It is hard to imagine a better choice. Michael is a superb historian and strategic analyst; I can’t praise highly enough his Six Days of War: June 1967 and the Making of the Modern Middle East and Power, Faith, and Fantasy: America in the Middle East: 1776 to the Present. His insights on military topics are informed by his own service in the Israel Defense Forces; he was on the front lines during the invasion of Lebanon in 1982.

He is also also a gifted communicator, both oral and written. I remember running into Michael in northern Israel in the summer of 2006 while the war with Hezbollah was raging. Israel’s communications strategy at that point left much to be desired, while Hezbollah was all too effective in getting its warped narrative across. The leading Israeli government spokesmen were no match for this reservist wearing a mismatched uniform who made the case for the country and its armed forces with eloquence, vigor, and precision. If anyone can present Israel’s case at a time when the new administration seems to be toying with an opening to Hamas, it is Michael. Kudos to Bibi Netanyahu (another fluent English speaker) for selecting precisely the right man for this challenging assignment.

Read Less

Re: Israeli Ambassador Michael B. Oren

I have known Michael Oren for many years, having worked with him closely at the Shalem Center in Jerusalem, where he is a senior fellow. So I will not hide my delight at his having been picked to be Israel’s new ambassador in Washington. Oren, whose article “Seven Existential Threats” appears in this month’s COMMENTARY, is a former American who fought in Israel’s wars, established himself as a world-class historian, and during the Lebanon war in 2006 emerged as Israel’s most gifted spokesperson in the English language (with the possible exception of Prime Minister Netanyahu himself). He is well-connected and well-liked both in the American Jewish community and in Washington, where he enjoys excellent connections on both sides of the aisle. There are few people, if any, better suited for the position today.

But Oren will face some serious challenges. He encounters an administration eager to distance itself from the overwhelming embrace of Israel offered by its predecessor, and eager to show what it considers to be progress in advancing peace between Israel and the Palestinians. At the same time, he represents a government that has rushed to show its independence, and also its reluctance to be a rubber stamp for American plans. And his boss, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, has earned himself a reputation among Americans as a loose cannon of the militant Right in Israel.

Nor will his job be an easy one vis-a-vis the Jewish diaspora in the United States. While Jewish support for Israel remains firm, it has fractured somewhat in recent years, with increasing numbers of Jews endorsing the Republican approach to supporting Israel, and with the emergence of J-Street, which positions itself as a liberal alternative to AIPAC.

Oren (whose appointment still requires Israeli cabinet approval) takes his post in the wake of Walt and Mearsheimer’s highly influential assault on what they call the “Israel lobby”; and in the wake of the AIPAC spying scandal, which just this week has fizzled, at least as far as the criminal investigation is concerned.

It is definitely not the best moment in either Israel-U.S. relations nor in the way American Jewry fits into the picture. Michael has his work cut out for him.

I have known Michael Oren for many years, having worked with him closely at the Shalem Center in Jerusalem, where he is a senior fellow. So I will not hide my delight at his having been picked to be Israel’s new ambassador in Washington. Oren, whose article “Seven Existential Threats” appears in this month’s COMMENTARY, is a former American who fought in Israel’s wars, established himself as a world-class historian, and during the Lebanon war in 2006 emerged as Israel’s most gifted spokesperson in the English language (with the possible exception of Prime Minister Netanyahu himself). He is well-connected and well-liked both in the American Jewish community and in Washington, where he enjoys excellent connections on both sides of the aisle. There are few people, if any, better suited for the position today.

But Oren will face some serious challenges. He encounters an administration eager to distance itself from the overwhelming embrace of Israel offered by its predecessor, and eager to show what it considers to be progress in advancing peace between Israel and the Palestinians. At the same time, he represents a government that has rushed to show its independence, and also its reluctance to be a rubber stamp for American plans. And his boss, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, has earned himself a reputation among Americans as a loose cannon of the militant Right in Israel.

Nor will his job be an easy one vis-a-vis the Jewish diaspora in the United States. While Jewish support for Israel remains firm, it has fractured somewhat in recent years, with increasing numbers of Jews endorsing the Republican approach to supporting Israel, and with the emergence of J-Street, which positions itself as a liberal alternative to AIPAC.

Oren (whose appointment still requires Israeli cabinet approval) takes his post in the wake of Walt and Mearsheimer’s highly influential assault on what they call the “Israel lobby”; and in the wake of the AIPAC spying scandal, which just this week has fizzled, at least as far as the criminal investigation is concerned.

It is definitely not the best moment in either Israel-U.S. relations nor in the way American Jewry fits into the picture. Michael has his work cut out for him.

Read Less

New Israeli Ambassador Michael B. Oren in COMMENTARY: ‘Seven Existential Threats’

The newly named Israeli Ambassador to the United States, Michael B. Oren, has the lead article in the new issue of COMMENTARY. Written before Benjamin Netanyahu became prime minister, Oren’s important piece,  “Seven Existential Threats,” describes the nature of the position in which Israel finds itself as he makes his way to Washington to represent the country of his nationhood in the country of his birth:

The State of Israel copes not only with one but with at least seven existential threats on a daily basis. These threats are extraordinary not only for their number but also for their diversity. In addition to external military dangers from hostile regimes and organizations, the Jewish State is endangered by domestic opposition, demographic trends, and the erosion of core values. Indeed, it is difficult if not impossible to find an example of another state in the modern epic that has faced such a multiplicity and variety of concurrent existential threats.

You can read Oren’s piece here. You can be sure the State Department and the National Security Council are.

The newly named Israeli Ambassador to the United States, Michael B. Oren, has the lead article in the new issue of COMMENTARY. Written before Benjamin Netanyahu became prime minister, Oren’s important piece,  “Seven Existential Threats,” describes the nature of the position in which Israel finds itself as he makes his way to Washington to represent the country of his nationhood in the country of his birth:

The State of Israel copes not only with one but with at least seven existential threats on a daily basis. These threats are extraordinary not only for their number but also for their diversity. In addition to external military dangers from hostile regimes and organizations, the Jewish State is endangered by domestic opposition, demographic trends, and the erosion of core values. Indeed, it is difficult if not impossible to find an example of another state in the modern epic that has faced such a multiplicity and variety of concurrent existential threats.

You can read Oren’s piece here. You can be sure the State Department and the National Security Council are.

Read Less

Jack Kemp, RIP

After a battle with cancer, Jack Kemp passed away Saturday. He was an all-star college and pro quarterback, a nine-term congressman from Buffalo, a vice presidential and presidential candidate, and HUD secretary. He was perhaps most influential as a dogged proponent of supply-side economics. (A wonderful tribute to him by Kenneth Tomlinson  recaps the central role he played in laying the groundwork for the Reagan Revolution.)

Kemp had the effervescent personality of a man who clearly loved what he did. He possessed qualities that were (and still are) all too rare among conservatives — a sense of fun and a dedication to expand conservatism to places many of his colleagues had written off as beyond their grasp (e.g. housing projects, inner cities). He was convinced that free markets offered minorities and the poor the way to prosperity. Ed Feulner, president of Heritage, summed up: “Freedom is for everybody. That’s what Jack Kemp really stood for.” And, as I experienced, he would go anywhere and sell his message to any audience.

He was also a devoted friend of Israel, as a column from last year illustrates. In poignant words especially apt today, he wrote:

Having been to Israel often since my first trip in 1972 as a rookie member of Congress, I’m always amazed at the incredible progress, juxtaposed against the virulence of its enemies, many of whom would annihilate not only the state of Israel but Jews writ large.

It’s equally hard to believe how much opposition there was 60 years ago this month to a Jewish homeland as the remnant of European Jewry, 6 million of whom were burned and gassed by the Nazis and incarcerated by the brutal despot Joseph Stalin.

One of my foreign policy heroes, Gen. George Marshall, tried to dissuade President Truman from recognizing the new state of Israel in 1948. He and his Arabist allies in the State Department thought it would erode our credibility throughout the whole world. On the contrary, Truman’s support gave moral standing to our nation in keeping with our founding democratic ideals and shared values. Today, Israel is unambiguously our most loyal and steadfast strategic ally in that part of the world, notwithstanding our increasing trade, diplomatic, and strategic friends and allies in the Arabian Gulf.

At a time when conservatives are trying to find their way ideologically and rhetorically, they would do well to emulate this most happy and principled warrior. He will be greatly missed.

After a battle with cancer, Jack Kemp passed away Saturday. He was an all-star college and pro quarterback, a nine-term congressman from Buffalo, a vice presidential and presidential candidate, and HUD secretary. He was perhaps most influential as a dogged proponent of supply-side economics. (A wonderful tribute to him by Kenneth Tomlinson  recaps the central role he played in laying the groundwork for the Reagan Revolution.)

Kemp had the effervescent personality of a man who clearly loved what he did. He possessed qualities that were (and still are) all too rare among conservatives — a sense of fun and a dedication to expand conservatism to places many of his colleagues had written off as beyond their grasp (e.g. housing projects, inner cities). He was convinced that free markets offered minorities and the poor the way to prosperity. Ed Feulner, president of Heritage, summed up: “Freedom is for everybody. That’s what Jack Kemp really stood for.” And, as I experienced, he would go anywhere and sell his message to any audience.

He was also a devoted friend of Israel, as a column from last year illustrates. In poignant words especially apt today, he wrote:

Having been to Israel often since my first trip in 1972 as a rookie member of Congress, I’m always amazed at the incredible progress, juxtaposed against the virulence of its enemies, many of whom would annihilate not only the state of Israel but Jews writ large.

It’s equally hard to believe how much opposition there was 60 years ago this month to a Jewish homeland as the remnant of European Jewry, 6 million of whom were burned and gassed by the Nazis and incarcerated by the brutal despot Joseph Stalin.

One of my foreign policy heroes, Gen. George Marshall, tried to dissuade President Truman from recognizing the new state of Israel in 1948. He and his Arabist allies in the State Department thought it would erode our credibility throughout the whole world. On the contrary, Truman’s support gave moral standing to our nation in keeping with our founding democratic ideals and shared values. Today, Israel is unambiguously our most loyal and steadfast strategic ally in that part of the world, notwithstanding our increasing trade, diplomatic, and strategic friends and allies in the Arabian Gulf.

At a time when conservatives are trying to find their way ideologically and rhetorically, they would do well to emulate this most happy and principled warrior. He will be greatly missed.

Read Less

J. Edgar Yglesias

Writing about the most recent developments in the case against two AIPAC lobbyists suspected of espionage, James Kirchick asks: “Will Steve Rosen’s attackers apologize?” He goes on to cite bloggers who have recently attacked Steve Rosen, one of the former-AIPAC lobbyists who will not be prosecuted by the government because he did nothing wrong. I think Kirchick knows very well that most of these bloggers would never do a shameful thing like apologize for accusing an innocent man of being guilty of the crime he did not commit (save Spencer Ackerman‘s “tendentious” apology).

But I did not think the response would be this. Matthew Yglesias, one of the original finger pointers, makes his position abundantly clear:

This is almost certainly the right decision. I enjoyed AIPAC getting a black eye, and it wouldn’t be a bad thing if their dealings got somewhat more scrutiny, but the particulars of this case seem an awful lot like an effort to establish a dangerous precedent that can be used in the future against all manner of journalists.

Hmm. He’s right to think that a prosecution of this nature would have had dangerous implications for all journalists — himself included — yet he boasts that he “enjoyed” the injustice while it lasted and hopes for “somewhat more scrutiny” of the wronged party.

The two lobbyists did not break the law and it has been widely speculated that “the whole point of the exercise was obviously an attempt on the part of some people in the FBI to embarrass the pro-Israel lobby.” Simply because they worked for AIPAC, an organization that Yglesias does not like, they deserved a government-administered black eye?

It’s one thing to attack one’s political foe on merit. It’s quite another to relish an injustice. The day has come: a lefty blogger sides with a J. Edgar Hoover-like move by the FBI. One can only speculate that his reasons are as ignoble as the FBI’s.

Writing about the most recent developments in the case against two AIPAC lobbyists suspected of espionage, James Kirchick asks: “Will Steve Rosen’s attackers apologize?” He goes on to cite bloggers who have recently attacked Steve Rosen, one of the former-AIPAC lobbyists who will not be prosecuted by the government because he did nothing wrong. I think Kirchick knows very well that most of these bloggers would never do a shameful thing like apologize for accusing an innocent man of being guilty of the crime he did not commit (save Spencer Ackerman‘s “tendentious” apology).

But I did not think the response would be this. Matthew Yglesias, one of the original finger pointers, makes his position abundantly clear:

This is almost certainly the right decision. I enjoyed AIPAC getting a black eye, and it wouldn’t be a bad thing if their dealings got somewhat more scrutiny, but the particulars of this case seem an awful lot like an effort to establish a dangerous precedent that can be used in the future against all manner of journalists.

Hmm. He’s right to think that a prosecution of this nature would have had dangerous implications for all journalists — himself included — yet he boasts that he “enjoyed” the injustice while it lasted and hopes for “somewhat more scrutiny” of the wronged party.

The two lobbyists did not break the law and it has been widely speculated that “the whole point of the exercise was obviously an attempt on the part of some people in the FBI to embarrass the pro-Israel lobby.” Simply because they worked for AIPAC, an organization that Yglesias does not like, they deserved a government-administered black eye?

It’s one thing to attack one’s political foe on merit. It’s quite another to relish an injustice. The day has come: a lefty blogger sides with a J. Edgar Hoover-like move by the FBI. One can only speculate that his reasons are as ignoble as the FBI’s.

Read Less

Flotsam and Jetsam

The New Jersey Republican gubernatorial primary heats up: “Republican gubernatorial candidate Christopher Christie is starting to flex his conservative credentials and endorsements, so he’s using surrogates to drive that message home.  Republicans began received robo calls today with a message recorded by former Jersey City Mayor Bret Schundler, who was the darling of conservative Republicans when he won the 2001 gubernatorial primary.”

The Virginia gubernatorial candidate can breathe a sigh of relief as the state party selects a replacement for the controversial party chairman Jeff Frederick who was dumped last month.

But what has him likely grinning ear-to-ear is the Washington Post’s take-down of probable opponent Terry McAuliffe: “He is a dealmaker who made millions from investments. And many of his biggest deals came in partnership with prominent donors and politicians, creating a portrait over the years of a Washington insider who got rich as he rose to power within the Democratic Party. McAuliffe is, at his core, a salesman — and even called himself a “huckster” in his autobiography. In his bid for governor this year, McAuliffe is selling the idea that his uncanny knack for making money can bring prosperity to all Virginia. But at a time when public mistrust of millionaires and politicians is high, that strategy could backfire.” Ouch.

Florida may see a blockbuster GOP senate primary between Gov. Charlie Crist and telegenic state speaker Marco Rubio.

And in Pennsylvania, Joe Sestak doesn’t sound like he’s bowing out to make room for Arlen Specter. Meanwhile, Tom Ridge is thinking of challenging Pat Toomey, whose favorables among Pennsylvania Republicans are “outstanding.”

Remember that Harry Reid deal to let Specter keep his seniority? Not so fast. “Under pressure, Reid now says it will be up to the Democratic caucus to determine whether to recognize Specter’s 28 1/2 years of seniority.” Something tells me Democrats are pleased but not that grateful to have Specter. There is a measure of irony: the caucus will vote by secret ballot because the secret ballot is a sacred thing, you know.

The bonus-receiving union-busters at the New York Times relent temporarily: “Citing progress in negotiations, New York Times Co. gave unions representing employees of its Boston Globe newspaper two more days to agree to $20 million in concessions to save the paper from closure.”

Looks like the UAW got 55% of one big mess: “Pressure mounted on Chrysler LLC as the auto maker was forced to idle four plants and its dealers scrambled to find new sources of credit a day after the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.The developments sparked fresh questions about Chrysler’s prospects for quickly exiting from bankruptcy protection and about the web of suppliers and dealers that are linked to the company. The plants were idled after suppliers halted shipments, while dealers were squeezed when Chrysler Financial stopped providing cut-rate loans.”

The National Council for a New America starts the GOP revival tour looking for new ideas. For Mitt Romney this is free exposure and campaign time with the base, just in case he might possibly consider a 2012 run, of course.

The New Jersey Republican gubernatorial primary heats up: “Republican gubernatorial candidate Christopher Christie is starting to flex his conservative credentials and endorsements, so he’s using surrogates to drive that message home.  Republicans began received robo calls today with a message recorded by former Jersey City Mayor Bret Schundler, who was the darling of conservative Republicans when he won the 2001 gubernatorial primary.”

The Virginia gubernatorial candidate can breathe a sigh of relief as the state party selects a replacement for the controversial party chairman Jeff Frederick who was dumped last month.

But what has him likely grinning ear-to-ear is the Washington Post’s take-down of probable opponent Terry McAuliffe: “He is a dealmaker who made millions from investments. And many of his biggest deals came in partnership with prominent donors and politicians, creating a portrait over the years of a Washington insider who got rich as he rose to power within the Democratic Party. McAuliffe is, at his core, a salesman — and even called himself a “huckster” in his autobiography. In his bid for governor this year, McAuliffe is selling the idea that his uncanny knack for making money can bring prosperity to all Virginia. But at a time when public mistrust of millionaires and politicians is high, that strategy could backfire.” Ouch.

Florida may see a blockbuster GOP senate primary between Gov. Charlie Crist and telegenic state speaker Marco Rubio.

And in Pennsylvania, Joe Sestak doesn’t sound like he’s bowing out to make room for Arlen Specter. Meanwhile, Tom Ridge is thinking of challenging Pat Toomey, whose favorables among Pennsylvania Republicans are “outstanding.”

Remember that Harry Reid deal to let Specter keep his seniority? Not so fast. “Under pressure, Reid now says it will be up to the Democratic caucus to determine whether to recognize Specter’s 28 1/2 years of seniority.” Something tells me Democrats are pleased but not that grateful to have Specter. There is a measure of irony: the caucus will vote by secret ballot because the secret ballot is a sacred thing, you know.

The bonus-receiving union-busters at the New York Times relent temporarily: “Citing progress in negotiations, New York Times Co. gave unions representing employees of its Boston Globe newspaper two more days to agree to $20 million in concessions to save the paper from closure.”

Looks like the UAW got 55% of one big mess: “Pressure mounted on Chrysler LLC as the auto maker was forced to idle four plants and its dealers scrambled to find new sources of credit a day after the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.The developments sparked fresh questions about Chrysler’s prospects for quickly exiting from bankruptcy protection and about the web of suppliers and dealers that are linked to the company. The plants were idled after suppliers halted shipments, while dealers were squeezed when Chrysler Financial stopped providing cut-rate loans.”

The National Council for a New America starts the GOP revival tour looking for new ideas. For Mitt Romney this is free exposure and campaign time with the base, just in case he might possibly consider a 2012 run, of course.

Read Less




Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor to our site, you are allowed 8 free articles this month.
This is your first of 8 free articles.

If you are already a digital subscriber, log in here »

Print subscriber? For free access to the website and iPad, register here »

To subscribe, click here to see our subscription offers »

Please note this is an advertisement skip this ad
Clearly, you have a passion for ideas.
Subscribe today for unlimited digital access to the publication that shapes the minds of the people who shape our world.
Get for just
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor, you are allowed 8 free articles.
This is your first article.
You have read of 8 free articles this month.
YOU HAVE READ 8 OF 8
FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
for full access to
CommentaryMagazine.com
INCLUDES FULL ACCESS TO:
Digital subscriber?
Print subscriber? Get free access »
Call to subscribe: 1-800-829-6270
You can also subscribe
on your computer at
CommentaryMagazine.com.
LOG IN WITH YOUR
COMMENTARY MAGAZINE ID
Don't have a CommentaryMagazine.com log in?
CREATE A COMMENTARY
LOG IN ID
Enter you email address and password below. A confirmation email will be sent to the email address that you provide.