Dec 01, 2021

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In the third of a series of stinging op-eds about US President Barack Obama and his relationship with Israel, former Israeli ambassador to the US and current Kulanu MK Michael Oren speculated that the president’s persistent outreach to the Muslim world is based on abandonment issues by two Muslim father figures.

In an article published in Foreign Policy Magazine on Friday, Oren asserts that Obama seeks acceptance by the Muslim world to fill a void caused by his abandonment as a younger child. He calls the president’s policies and overall view towards the Middle East as naïve.

“Obama’s attitudes toward Islam clearly stem from his personal interactions with Muslims. These were described in depth in his candid memoir, ‘Dreams from My Father,’ published 13 years before his election as president. Obama wrote passionately of the Kenyan villages where, after many years of dislocation, he felt most at home and of his childhood experiences in Indonesia,” Oren explained.

“I could imagine how a child raised by a Christian mother might see himself as a natural bridge between her two Muslim husbands. I could also speculate how that child’s abandonment by those men could lead him, many years later, to seek acceptance by their co-religionists.”

Oren makes a similar claim in his new book “Ally,” in which the former ambassador said he searched “Dreams from My Father” in vain “for some expression of reverence, even respect, for the country its author would someday lead.”

Finding none, Oren says he found instead that “the book criticizes Americans for their capitalism and consumer culture, for despoiling their environment and maintaining antiquated power structures.”

In the Foreign Policy article, Oren adds that “Historians will likely look back at Obama’s policy toward Islam with a combination of curiosity and incredulousness. While some may credit the president for his good intentions, others might fault him for being naïve and detached from a complex and increasingly lethal reality.”

Oren served as Israel’s ambassador to the US from 2009-13. He explains that an undertaking he took upon himself when becoming ambassador was an “Obama 101” course “devoted months to studying the new president, pouring over his speeches, interviews, press releases, and memoirs, and meeting with many of his friends and supporters.”

Each of Obama’s decisions regarding the Middle East and Muslim affairs came as no surprise to Oren while ambassador. Obama’s “naïve” approach has led the president to lead the US onto a dangerous path, especially with its relationship with its ally Israel.

Former Israeli Ambassador to the US and current Kulanu MK Michael Oren. (Photo: Nati Shohat/Flash90)

Former Israeli Ambassador to the US and current Kulanu MK Michael Oren. (Photo: Nati Shohat/Flash90)

“The president could not participate in a protest against Muslim radicals whose motivations he sees as a distortion, rather than a radical interpretation, of Islam,” Oren writes about the president’s refusal to attend a Paris rally following the terror attacks at the Charlie Hebdo headquarters and a kosher supermarket in Paris.

“If there are no terrorists spurred by Islam, there can be no purposely selected Jewish shop or intended Jewish victims, only a deli and randomly present folks,” Oren writes.

Not everyone is happy with Oren’s tell-all of the president. Abe Foxman, Director of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has called Oren’s essays “unjustified and insensitive.”

Foxman said Oren’s articles are a form of “attack” on the president” that “veer into the realm of conspiracy theories.”

“In the days leading up to the forthcoming release of a memoir of his experiences as Israel’s Ambassador to the US, Michael Oren appears to be using the very legitimate and sharp policy disagreements between Israel and the US as an insensitive and unjustified attack on the president,” Foxman said in a statement.

“We hope that Ambassador Oren will walk back these unjustified attacks,” he said.

In response to a Wall Street Journal piece published last week entitled “How Obama Abandoned Israel,” in which Oren lays out two main policy shifts the president has enacted that has left Israel to fend for itself, the US State Department called the claims “absolutely inaccurate and false and doesn’t reflect what actually happened in the past.”