By BB Portnoy
Israel will be dealing with the repercussions of President Barack Obama’s foreign policy long after he leaves the White House in January, an American-born Knesset member and former Israeli ambassador to the US said at a Harvard Club event in Tel Aviv on Tuesday, Israel’s Channel 10 reported.
Speaking to a gathering of alumni of the prestigious Massachusetts university, Kulanu MK Michael Oren, who was recently appointed as a deputy minister in charge of public diplomacy in the Prime Minister’s Office, reportedly opined that “Obama-ism” would not fade away when a new administration takes over in Washington. According to the report, Oren referred to Obama as being a symptom, not the cause, of shifting US foreign policy in the Middle East.
The US no longer wants to be the world’s policeman and is not willing to exercise significant military force in the Middle East, despite the ongoing slaughter in Syria and the related flood of refugees sweeping over Europe, Oren was quoted as saying. According to the report, Oren also noted that Americans were focused on internal affairs and the societal trends that brought Obama to office eight years ago have not changed since then.
Furthermore, Oren reportedly said Israel must internalize that America’s hands-off foreign policy will not change in the near future — something that gives Israel the ability to act more independently. While the US would continue to provide military aid to Israel, the report quoted Oren as saying, it would not necessarily come to save Israel from any mess.
In a Facebook post about Tuesday’s event, Oren wrote, “At today’s meeting with the Harvard Club Of Israel, I stressed the need to defend the state against delegitimization but also to take advantage of unprecedented opportunities in our foreign relations. Africa and Latin America are open to us as rarely before, I said, and we must devote more resources to strengthening our ties with them.”
After his recent appointment as deputy minister, Oren told The Algemeiner that Israel must improve its efforts to defend its narrative by seeking to connect emotionally with people, particularly millennials.
Oren said that because Israel “faces several unprecedented foreign-affairs challenges, such as threats to its legitimacy, the ability to defend itself and its right to exist as a sovereign Jewish state,” it must change its tactics or risk facing continued defamation.
Last summer, ahead of the publication of his book Ally: My Journey Across the American-Israeli Divide, Oren sparked controversy when he accused Obama of “deliberately” pursuing a policy that harmed US-Israeli relations.