Israeli Ambassador Gets Blasted for Blistering Attack on the UN

A firestorm engulfs Michael Oren after he accuses the fact-finding mission in Gaza of giving Holocaust deniers a boost

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Michael Oren, the Israeli ambassador to the U.S., has penned a blistering attack on the United Nations. Writing in The New Republic, he accuses the UN Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict of "go[ing] further than Ahmadinejad and the Holocaust deniers." The investigators, he alleges, "interviewed handpicked Hamas witnesses," while the report "presumed Israel's guilt" and "condemned the Jewish state for crimes against humanity." The implications, he argues, are profound:

The Goldstone Report ... strip[s] the Jews not only of the ability and the need but of the right to defend themselves. If a country can be pummeled by thousands of rockets and still not be justified in protecting its inhabitants, then at issue is not the methods by which that country survives but whether it can survive at all. But more insidiously, the report does not only hamstring Israel; it portrays the Jews as the deliberate murderers of innocents--as Nazis. And a Nazi state not only lacks the need and right to defend itself; it must rather be destroyed.

The reverberations have been swift and intense. While the Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg merely says Oren writes "provocatively," other bloggers note that Oren's position as Israel's ambassador gives his tirade considerable weight. The top reactions:

  • 'Outrageous Slander,' Dreadful Argument  "[T]he Goldstone Report doesn't say anything remotely like this," says Matt Yglesias. More troublesome: "the doctrine Oren seems to be trying to put forward is the idea that if a state is attacked then anything ... in the way of a defensive response is legitimate." The U.S. invasion of Afghanistan after 9/11, for example, writes Yglesias, is self-defense, but "that fact itself doesn't immunize the United States against the charge of war crimes."
  • No Longer Just a Writer, writes the Washington Post's Ezra Klein, who calls the essay "seriously nutty stuff" that "first goes a bit too far, and then goes much too far." Oren's ambassadorship "makes this more than a simple overreaction: It makes it an official overreaction." So Klein takes a moment to review "one of the weirder quirks" of today's Israel debates:
Serious critics of Israeli policy don't liken Jews to Nazis very frequently. But serious defenders of Israeli policy constantly claim that critics are likening Jews to Nazis--as Oren does in this case, with laughable results.
  • A 'Must-Read': Oren Is Right  Commentary's Jennifer Rubin disagrees. Calling the UN's so-called Goldstone Report "insidious" and the American response to it "timid and equivocating," she argues the UN fell for Hamas's "vicious propaganda campaign," producing a document that "strikes at the Jewish state's right to exist and defend itself." The U.S. remains silent, she writes, as "part of a disastrous and morally offensive strategy--distance ourselves from Israel, downplay threats to the Jewish state, ingratiate ourselves with Israel’s foes, and fudge historical events to fit the desired narrative (i.e., both sides are equally to blame)."
  • Check Your Numbers, Check Your Facts  "Reading Oren," writes an astonished M.J. Rosenberg in the Huffington Post, concurring with those who object to Oren's attack, "one would never know that 1,387 Palestinians (including 320 children) were killed compared to nine Israel soldiers." Oren also ignores "testimony of the Israeli soldiers," he writes, and instead "wants to ... shoot the messenger ... Richard Goldstone, himself Jewish." Rosenberg doesn't stop there: 
What, in heaven's name, does Goldstone have to do with Ahmadinejad? Nothing. But Oren conflates them and then throws in anyone who advocates Israeli territorial compromise ... Someone needs to tell the overwrought diplomat that invoking the Nazis regardless of the provocation is quickly becoming the last refuge of scoundrels.
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