Speaking today at the Jewish Federations General Assembly, Israeli Ambassador to the United States Michael Oren chided America’s Jewish population, insisting they were obligated to publicly defend Israel’s military offensives and attack opposition to them.
“I think it is fair for Israel to expect the American Jewish community to uphold our right to self-defense,” Insisted Oren, adding that “Israel expects American Jews to fight the Goldstone report,” a UN report which chided Israel for war crimes committed during the 2009 invasion of the Gaza Strip.
Israel’s increasingly far-right government has alienated a large portion of the world with its policies, and Israeli media outlets have regularly expressed concern about the growing disconnect between the overseas Jewish population and the Israeli government officials who see themselves as their representatives on the world stage.
Oren appeared to acknowledge the disconnect, while insisting that US Jews should feel obliged to “respect the will of the people who bear the greatest consequences of their government’s decisions – even if you disagree with us.”
The comments point to a reality however in which Israel’s policies are not palatable to many, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is facing accusations from a Jewish conference that his government “delegitimizes Israel.” Ambassador Oren appears to have no response except an appeal to knee-jerk loyalty to Israeli policy, an appeal which appears to be ringing more hollow by the day.