Will Oren's Book Damage US-Israel Relations?

Book critical of the Obama administration is ultimately 'negligible,' but Israel's response is not, former Amb. Yoram Ettinger says.

Nitsan Keidar ,

Michael Oren
Michael Oren

The political establishment continues to resist US pressure and keep silent, following former ambassador MK Michael Oren's (Kulanu) article against US President Barack Obama this week. 

Former ambassador to the US Yoram Ettinger, a renowned expert in US-Israel relations, told Arutz Sheva in a special interview Friday that attempts to apologize to the Americans for the article are superfluous. 

"I think apologizing is wrong, because the apology comes from a fear of damaging the interests of Israel," Ettinger stated. He theorized that Kulanu chairman Moshe Kahlon's apology was due to a furious call from US Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro. 

According to him, such a reaction will only harm Israel's credibility eventually - by showing that Israel will cave into pressure.

"[The apology] sets the bar that the resilience of [Israeli] discourse is questionable," he said, "and it could be used in future incidents against us." 

He adds that those who were quick to condemn may have had the best of intentions, but are not aware of the consequences.

"Whoever condemns it does so in order not to damage relations, and I think that the apology could create a wrong impression about Israel's resilience in light of US pressure."

Ettinger, however, does think that Oren may have taken criticism a step too far. 

"Is it right for a former ambassador to publish such an article and a book like this, relatively close to the end of his service? I do not think so," he said, but then clarified: "The assumption that this article was hurting the US-Israel relationship is a baseless assumption. There is no doubt that this article was bothersome [to the US], but such a response inflates the weight of the article and the author out of proportion." 

He also criticized the American response to things and makes clear that Oren's words do reflect the reality on the ground. 

Ettinger is of the opinion that Oren says aloud what others think, noting, "there is no doubt that anyone who studies the President Obama from the first elections for the presidency until today, knows he does not deviate at all from a worldview he drafted eight years ago, and it is not convenient for Israel, and I think first and foremost is also inconvenient to the US."

Finally, he makes it clear that the book is far from a threat to relations between the two countries. "No article, no author will bring the slightest change to [the US's] cooperation with Israel, and our facing common enemies, for one simple reason: they are negligible."

Oren penned a critical article in the Wall Street Journal just days before his highly anticipated tell-all book on his time as ambassador to the US, Ally: My Journey Across the American-Israeli Divide, hits newsstands. 

The book reveals, among other things, new details about Israel's covert assistance to the US during the 2013 Syrian chemical weapons fiasco - and how Obama took sole credit for it - and several bizarre instances wherein Obama administration officials picked on Israel.