Thursday, December 10, 2009

Oren opens up

Israel's ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren lets his guard down and says what he really thinks about J Street, as reported in The Forward. Money quote: "When it comes to the survival of the Jewish state, there should no differences of opinion." 
Breaking with his previous restraint, Israel’s ambassador to the United States delivered an unprecedented blast against J Street, the new dovish Israel lobby that has made waves in Washington and throughout the Jewish community.
Addressing a breakfast session at the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism’s biennial convention December 7, Ambassador Michael Oren described J Street as “a unique problem in that it not only opposes one policy of one Israeli government, it opposes all policies of all Israeli governments. It’s significantly out of the mainstream.”
After a speech that touched on the spiritual basis for and the threats to the state of Israel, Oren issued an unscripted condemnation of J Street.
“This is not a matter of settlements here [or] there. We understand there are differences of opinion,” Oren said. “But when it comes to the survival of the Jewish state, there should be no differences of opinion. You are fooling around with the lives of 7 million people. This is no joke.”
Oren cited J Street’s criticism of Israel’s military campaign in Gaza in December 2008 and last January, and its support for talks with the Islamist militant group Hamas, which has engaged in terrorism, as examples of positions that were outside the Jewish mainstream; however, an opinion poll sponsored by the Israeli daily Haaretz in November found that 57% of Israelis favored talks with Hamas under certain conditions. Oren also accused J Street of failing to reject the UN’s Goldstone report, which found Israel had committed war crimes during the Gaza campaign. Finally, he charged that the group opposed sanctions against Iran.

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