Last week we wrote about both Ronald Lauder’s open letter to President Obama and Elie Wiesel’s open letter to an unnamed addressee. Both letters took issue with President Obama’s diplomatic assault on Israel.
The Obama administration got the letters but didn’t appreciate the message. Ron Radosh summarizes the letters and takes note of the Obama administration’s response, via Haaretz: “‘All these advertisements are not a wise move,’ one senior American official told Haaretz.” Radosh comments:
Am I incorrect to think that this little item, buried at the end of a story in the Israeli paper Haaretz, is more than unusual? American citizens, a category that include both Lauder and Wiesel, have the right to speak out, and to exercise their First Amendment rights to disagree with administration policy, and even to spend their own money to advertise their views. What right does any unnamed official – one must ask whom they are – have to publicly chastise them and release a statement to that effect in Israel and to the world press?
In a matter of hours, the Haaretz story spread all over the world on the internet. We must ask what this says about the Obama administration, which seems to find any criticism extremely threatening. In acting to stifle those with the courage to take them on, the Obama team demeans itself, and again shows how it is seeking to tilt our traditional Middle East policy in a new direction.
Radosh describes the response as “acting to stifle” criticism. I doubt that the vague threat voiced by an anonymous official qualifies as action, but it is distasteful nonetheless.