In politics, almost saying something isn’t quite the same as actually saying it. Over the weekend, the Jerusalem Post reported that Israel’s Washington embassy had “communicated” with J Street, the dovish year-old Israel lobby, about the Israeli government’s concerns that J Street’s policies could “impair Israel’s interests.” The unusually frank statement, issued by embassy spokesman Jonathan Peled, looked an awful lot like a “no, thank you” to J Street’s invitation for Israel’s new U.S. ambassador, Michael Oren, to speak at the group’s conference later this month. But, no! Today, the Forward’s Nathan Guttman reports that Oren—who has initiated meetings with left-wing groups like Americans for Peace Now—is still considering making an appearance. “We decided to move ahead in a measured and cautious way,” Peled said. In the meantime, J Street head Jeremy Ben Ami is doing everything he can to look hospitable, including promising Oren “an open hearing,” in an op-ed published in today’s Jerusalem Post.
It’s also worth remembering that context matters, so it’s probably not entirely irrelevant that the Israeli embassy softened its position right after Israeli opposition leader Tzipi Livni—whose Kadima party actually came first in last February’s Knesset elections, though it couldn’t muster a working parliamentary coalition—lashed out at Netanyahu’s government for isolating Israel on the international stage. “You have managed to beat the president of the United States, Israel’s greatest friend, or at least this is the impression you and your people tried to convey after the meeting,” Livni railed during Monday’s opening of the Knesset. “You have managed to humiliate the only partner for a peace settlement Israel has. In short: We have beaten America, humiliated the Palestinians, isolated ourselves. Raise your head from the small politics and see what has happened, see that Israel is excommunicated.”
On Eve of Conference, J Street Struggles To Prove Pro-Israel Cred [Forward]
Livni Accuses Netanyahu of ‘Humiliating Palestinians’[Ynet]
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