- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 7, 2009


The man expected to be Israel’s next ambassador to the United States warned Israel to resist pressure to abandon any plans for a “military operation” to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons.

Michael Oren, now a professor at Georgetown University in Washington, also urged the government in Jerusalem to support President Obama’s diplomatic efforts with Iran but make sure the White House is aware of Iranian duplicity.

“Israel cannot allow Iran to acquire nuclear weapons,” he wrote in this month’s edition of Commentary Magazine.

“Israel should work in tandem with the United States, supporting the current administration’s diplomatic efforts to dissuade the Iranians from going nuclear but warning American policymakers of the dangers of Iranian prevarication.

“Israel must also not allow its hands to be tied. It must remain free to initiate other, covert measures to impede Iran’s nuclear program, while continuing to develop the plans and intelligence necessary for a military operation.”

In his article, Mr. Oren listed other “existential threats” facing Israel, including terrorism, corruption and the potential loss of Jerusalem.

“For more than 60 years, Jerusalem has formed the nucleus of Israel’s national identity and cohesion,” he wrote. “But now, for the first time since 1948, Israel is in danger of losing Jerusalem - not to Arab forces but to a combination of negligence and lack of interest.”

Jerusalem “no longer boasts a Zionist majority,” Mr. Oren wrote, referring to the Zionist philosophy that established the Jewish state. Of the population of about 800,000, Arab-Israelis comprise about 270,000 and Heredim, ultra-Orthodox Jews who, he noted, “do not generally identify with the Zionist state,” make up 200,000.

“Recent years have seen the flight of thousands of secular Jews from the city, especially professionals and young couples,” he wrote. “This exodus has severely eroded the city’s tax base, making Jerusalem Israel’s poorest city.”

Mr. Oren, however, expressed optimism that Israel can overcome the threats he listed.

“Together with Diaspora Jewry and millions of Israel supporters abroad,” he wrote, “Israel can not only survive these perils, but, as in the past, it can thrive.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu offered Mr. Oren the ambassadorship over the weekend, but the government in Jerusalem has not yet announced his appointment. Mr. Netanyahu is expected in Washington for a May 18 meeting with Mr. Obama.


The former U.S. ambassador to India is worried that the Obama administration is placing less importance on relations with India as the administration works to strengthen ties with China.

Robert Blackwill told a business audience in New Delhi this week that the White House fails to appreciate India as a diplomatic balance against Chinese efforts to extend its influence throughout Asia.

“First, it is not clear that the Obama administration has the same preoccupation with the rise of Chinese power and India’s balancing role in it,” said Mr. Blackwill, ambassador to India from 2001 to 2003.

“Rather, Washington is now naturally focused on U.S.-China economic relations … not least because of China’s holding of U.S. Treasury bonds and its major place in the world economy.”

China holds an estimated $1 trillion in U.S. debt, according to some reports.

Mr. Blackwill added, “China today appears, at least to me, to be on a substantially higher plane in U.S. diplomacy than India, which seems to have been downgraded in administration strategic calculations.”

• Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail jmorrison@ washingtontimes.com.

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