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U.S. Anti-Semitism Envoy Attacks Ambassador Oren

A former J Street adviser, she defends the group

Marc Tracy
December 24, 2009

“Most unfortunate” was how a U.S. administration official characterized the Israeli Ambassador to the United States’s disparaging comments about the “pro-Israel, pro-peace” J Street political organization. Hannah Rosenthal, the State Department’s Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism, told Haaretz that Ambassador Michael Oren “would have learned a lot” from participating in J Street’s conference, to which he declined an invitation. “We may disagree on different paths to get there—but we need to at least admit that peace is the goal and security is the goal,” she said. She was responding to Oren’s statement that J Street, which is Zionist but frequently critical of the Israeli government’s policies, poses “a unique problem” and is “significantly out of the mainstream.” Rosenthal formerly served on J Street’s advisory board; the daughter of a rabbi who survived the Holocaust, she was also an official in the Clinton administration’s Department of Health and Human Services.

Tablet Magazine’s Allison Hoffman interviewed Rosenthal upon her accession to her current position last month. She had this to say about J Street:

Criticizing a certain policy in Israel or a certain policy in the United States regarding Israel does not make someone an anti-Semite. … I think J Street needs to be at the table, and I think other organizations representing many strategies all need to be at the table, because the status quo in the Middle East is totally unacceptable.

Related: The Anti-Anti-Semite [Tablet Magazine]

Marc Tracy is a staff writer at The New Republic, and was previously a staff writer at Tablet. He tweets @marcatracy.