New York, NY, June 21, 2015 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) expressed deep concern about some of the views of President Obama expressed by Michael Oren, Israel’s former Ambassador to the U.S., in an essay in the online edition of Foreign Policy Magazine last Friday, saying they were “unjustified and insensitive.”
Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director, issued the following statement:
In the days leading up to the forthcoming release of a memoir of his experiences as Israel’s Ambassador to the U.S., Michael Oren appears to be using the very legitimate and sharp policy disagreements between Israel and the U.S. as an insensitive and unjustified attack on the president.
Most recently, in his essay in Foreign Policy Magazine, Ambassador Oren revives the meme of the president’s “Muslim heritage” to make the case that American foreign policy in the Middle East is primarily being promoted and dictated by the president’s early upbringing in the Muslim faith and in Muslim traditions.
During the course of President Obama’s term in office I have often expressed strong disagreement with certain of his Middle East policies, such as the Cairo speech and his description of the Kosher deli massacre in Paris, and aspects of the relationship with Israel and even some of the language the president and others in the administration have used to describe both. It is legitimate and appropriate for anyone to criticize the policies of this administration. Ambassador Oren’s essay, however, veers into the realm of conspiracy theories, and with an element of amateur psychoanalysis he links U.S. policies in the Middle East to the president’s personal history of having a Muslim father. Then, taking it a step further by suggesting this “worldview” of Muslims and Islam has driven the president to embrace the Muslim world at the expense of both Israel and U.S. national security interests. This results in borderline stereotyping and insensitivity.
We hope that Ambassador Oren will walk back these unjustified attacks.
Updated: June 21, 2015
Update: On the occasion of the publication of the Hebrew version of Michael Oren’s book, “Ally: My Journey Across the American Israeli Divide,” ADL took the opportunity to put to rest the controversy that arose surrounding the book’s original publication last year.