Israeli Ambassador Scolds and Praises J Street
Chastises on Gaza, agrees on Iran
Israel’s American-born ambassador to Washington, D.C., Michael Oren, finally broke his silence this week about his views on the fledgling lobbying group J Street, which takes a progressive stance on how to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. According to the Forward, Oren told delegates to the Conservative movement’s biennial convention at a breakfast last Monday that he thinks J Street is “significantly out of the mainstream” and poses “a unique problem” insofar as it is willing to espouse policy views at odds with those of the Israeli government—specifically, with regard to last winter’s war in Gaza and the United Nations-backed Goldstone report on alleged war crimes committed during that conflict. Oren didn’t say anything radically different from the view the Israeli embassy articulated in October, when it issued a statement saying that its staff would be “privately communicating its concerns over certain policies of the organization that may impair the interests of Israel.”
Now, according to JTA’s Eric Fingerhut, Oren appears willing to concede that his government and J Street share at least some common ground—namely, Iran. Oren, Fingerhut reported, said in a short telephone interview that he appreciated that J Street had “made a statement and supported these efforts” to push sanctions measures in Congress. Which is reassuring, because it shows that peace, at least between these two parties, is still possible.