The following interview and book review is a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper. You can read all of our book reviews and author interviews by clicking on the Books category on the right side bar.
Former Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren’s latest book Ally is a riveting description of the relationship between Israel and the United States. Readers get a behind the scenes look at how the Obama Administration has a one sided point of view. Through his numerous notes and direct insight he tells of the struggles Israel has had with the Obama Administration, especially regarding the Iranian nuclear deal. He warns that Israel is in existential danger, that his only agenda is a reality check regarding this administration’s policies toward Israel. Blackfive.net interviewed him about his book and the Iranian nuclear deal.
He gave an exclusive to Blackfive.net, stating that he only tells those people “who come to work with me about this clip. I ask them to watch it so that they will understand me.” The clip (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ImtrifoxW4c) is about the Battle of the Bulge with interviews from participants including Oren’s father, Lester Bornstein, a US Army Corps Engineer whose duty was to clear roads and build bridges during World War II. Yet, in the Ardennes Forest in France on December 16, 1944, Lester along with his friend Jimmy Hill became infantrymen to help fend off the German advance, which had taken the American military off guard. He and his friend bravely disabled the first German tank in line, forcing a halt in the advance.
Oren, born in America, feels a kinship with America’s culture, principles, and spirit. He remembers his father telling the family war stories and during his first combat mission in the war, Operation Peace for the Galilee, thought of his father’s experience, wondering “how I would conduct myself under fire.”
Throughout the book Oren emphasizes the closeness he feels with both America and Israel. Yet, some in the media like Newsweek’s Jonathan Broder attempt to discredit him by writing, “The American-born Oren, who renounced his U.S. citizenship and now serves as a lawmaker in Netanyahu’s right-wing coalition, transforms from a measured historian into a breathless polemicist.” This is anything but the truth. Oren noted, “By Federal law any American who officially served a foreign county had to renounce their US Citizenship. My loyalties to the United States and the Jewish State are mutually validating.”
He wrote in the book how his love for America is filled with gratitude. “From the time that all four of my grandparents arrived on Ellis Island, through the Great Depression, in which they raised my parents, and the farm-bound community in which I grew up, America held out the chance to excel. True, prejudice was prevalent, but so, too, was our ability to fight it. Unreservedly, I referred to Americans as ‘we.’ The United States and Israel, are both democracies, both freedom-loving, and similarly determined to defend their independence. One could be — in fact, should be — a Zionist as well as a patriotic American, because the two countries stood for identical ideals.” Except now Israel is being thrown under the bus with the Iranian nuclear deal.
Why do some in the press want to discredit Oren’s roots? Possibly because the Ambassador is publicly warning that the Obama Administration is setting a dangerous precedent concerning the Iranian nuclear deal. As Daniel Silva profoundly wrote in his latest book, The English Spy, “Now the president’s confronted with a world gone mad, and he doesn’t have a clue as to what to do about it.”
Oren noted to blackfive.net about another irrational period in history and compared it to the current situation; “Lets remember one infamous example, when the Nazis pursued their insane ends. Even during the last days of World War II, as the Allied armies liberated Europe, they diverted precious military resources to exterminating Jews. The Israeli position is that this Iranian regime is irrational. Unlike Israel, which is in Iran’s backyard, the US is not threatened by the proximity of national annihilation. This is about our survival as a people. It’s about our children and grandchildren. What may look like an academic debate here in America is for us in Israel a matter of life and death.”
Asked if he agrees with the quote from former CIA Director Michael Hayden, who said of Iran, “the enemy of our enemy is still our enemy,” Oren told blackfive.net, that Americans should not forget that Iran “wants to wipe Israel off the face of the earth, something they have been calling for the last thirty years. Let’s not forget they also attempted to blow up the Israeli Embassy in Washington DC and assassinate the Saudi Ambassador. Iran and its terrorist groups have killed more Americans than any other terrorist group outside of Al Qaeda. This does not even include those in the American military who were killed by Iran during the Iraq War. They are not friends.”
But a true friend, an ally, is defined by Oren as assisting “in saving American lives on and off the battlefield. On an ideological level, an ally is a country that shares America’s values, reflects its founding spirit, and resonates with its people’s beliefs. And an ally stimulates the U.S. economy through trade, technological innovation, and job creation. The two countries I love need to unite on issues vital to both and yet they remain separated ideologically and even strategically. However, on issues of security, anybody in the Israeli military, in the intelligence community, will tell you that security relations between Israel and the United States are better now than probably any other time in the past.”
In the Middle East Israel is America’s staunchest ally. Even though the Obama Administration appears not to recognize this, Americans do. A recent Gallup Poll shows that two out of three Americans sympathize with Israel, with support for Israel in the United States rising, not declining.
Ambassador Oren wrote this book, Ally, to send a clear message, “A friend who stands by his friends on some issues but not others is, in Middle Eastern eyes, not really a friend. In a region famous for its unforgiving sun, any daylight is searing.” Ally is a must read, because it alerts people that Israel faces the greatest challenge they have faced since World War II.