The abandonment of Israel

Michael Oren is the former Israeli Ambassador to the United States and newly elected member of Israel’s Knesset (as a member of the Kulanu Party). He is also an accomplished historian and author. His new book, to be published next week, is Ally: My Journey Across the American-Israeli Divide. I just received an advance copy of the book for a podcast interview with Ambassador Oren to take place later this week. I hope to have the book read by then and be able to draw out Ambassador Oren regarding the conclusions the intelligent reader is to draw from his observations.

Ambassador Oren is an eloquent, moderate and tactful advocate of Israel. His standing as a diplomat and historian endow his memoir — a contribution to understanding unfolding events — with unusual credibility. You can bet that the Obama administration will be working overtime behind the scenes to undermine the Oren and his book.

Today’s Wall Street Journal offers Ambassador Oren’s column “The abandonment of Israel” (accessible here via Google). The headline asserts a conclusion that Ambassador Oren does not himself draw in the column. My guess is that the Journal supplied it. The headline is in any event right on. Referring to the two operative principles previously governing the US-Israel relationship that he discusses in his column, Ambassador Oren concludes:

The abandonment of the “no daylight” and “no surprises” principles climaxed over the Iranian nuclear program. Throughout my years in Washington, I participated in intimate and frank discussions with U.S. officials on the Iranian program. But parallel to the talks came administration statements and leaks—for example, each time Israeli warplanes reportedly struck Hezbollah-bound arms convoys in Syria—intended to deter Israel from striking Iran pre-emptively.

Finally, in 2014, Israel discovered that its primary ally had for months been secretly negotiating with its deadliest enemy. The talks resulted in an interim agreement that the great majority of Israelis considered a “bad deal” with an irrational, genocidal regime. Mr. Obama, though, insisted that Iran was a rational and potentially “very successful regional power.”

The daylight between Israel and the U.S. could not have been more blinding. And for Israelis who repeatedly heard the president pledge that he “had their backs” and “was not bluffing” about the military option, only to watch him tell an Israeli interviewer that “a military solution cannot fix” the Iranian nuclear threat, the astonishment could not have been greater.

Now, with the Middle East unraveling and dependable allies a rarity, the U.S. and Israel must restore the “no daylight” and “no surprises” principles. Israel has no alternative to America as a source of security aid, diplomatic backing and overwhelming popular support. The U.S. has no substitute for the state that, though small, remains democratic, militarily and technologically robust, strategically located and unreservedly pro-American.

Ambassador Oren’s column calls for restoration of the principles of “no daylight” and “no surprises” in our relationship with Israel. These principles have been abandoned in the service of the administration’s strategic partnership with the Islamic Republic of Iran that is itself a monumental mistake. It’s not too late. Let’s call the whole thing off.