by J.J. Goldberg
Every so often an idea or phrase enters the public square in a way that changes the discourse, often for the worse, sometimes dangerously so. Example: Michael Oren’s wrongheaded June 15 op-ed essay in The Wall Street Journal, “How Obama Abandoned Israel.”
It’s not easy to say this. Oren is a distinguished historian who writes with well-earned authority. As Israel’s former ambassador in Washington he was an eyewitness to much of what he describes. And he’s a genuinely decent person, all too rare in public life. But this article gets the Obama-Israel relationship wrong in a big way.
The biggest mistake actually isn’t Oren’s, but the Journal headline writer’s. The article actually doesn’t say Obama “abandoned Israel.” It accuses him of “abandoning the two core principles of Israel’s alliance with America.” Specifically, the principles of “no daylight” — that America and Israel “always could disagree but never openly” — and of “no surprises,” meaning clearing things with each other in advance.
Abandoning these operating principles would certainly unsettle the relationship, but it’s not the same as abandoning Israel. Headlines have a powerful impact, though. When they’re wrong, readers are left believing something that isn’t true.
Unfortunately, Oren’s actual accusations are also wrong. They misread the events, which is odd given Oren’s presence as an eyewitness. And they garble the historical context, which is even odder coming from a historian.
Read more: http://forward.com/opinion/israel/310175/michael-oren-wrongheaded-blame-game/#ixzz3dNVqXWch