Rep. Mel Levine Responds to Michael Oren

Last week, former Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren wrote a number of pieces based off of his upcoming book claiming that President Obama intentionally abandoned Israel. In response, former Congressman Mel Levine published a series of op-eds examining MK Oren’s controversial claims. In the Jerusalem Post, Levine writes:  

Among the facts he ignores is the unprecedented defense and security support that the US, under President Obama’s leadership, has supplied Israel, ranging from the critically important Iron Dome missile defense system to an extensive range of weapons, far exceeding those provided by prior administrations.

Oren also did not mention that President Obama’s first UN Security Council veto was against a resolution condemning Israel, and it was President Obama who assembled a potent international coalition that finally put together multinational sanctions against Iran, also unprecedented, that brought Iran to the nuclear negotiating table. And that a number of Israeli security analysts have concluded that the agreement that President Obama is attempting to achieve is the vehicle most likely to keep Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.

And, while complaining that President Obama put too much “daylight” between the US and Israel and fault him for publicly disagreeing with Israel, Oren holds president Obama to a higher standard than he does almost all previous US presidents. He ignores intense public disagreements by previous administrations, both Democratic and Republican.

Oren is correct that the ties that bind our two countries are vitally important and that the relationship between the US and Israel is essential. The former ambassador has a right to disagree with the president’s tactics, but to place the blame on President Obama distorts the facts, and presents a startlingly unfair rendition of the past seven years and conveniently ignores the history of the US-Israeli relationship throughout the years.

 You can read Rep. Levine’s entire piece in the Jerusalem Post here.

 In the Times of Israel, Rep. Levine further discusses MK Oren’s claims. Levine writes:

The former ambassador’s claim that President Obama canceled the sale of F-35 joint strike fights is absurd in light of a Congressional Research Service report this month stating that “In February 2015, Israel signed a contract to purchase a partial second squadron of 14 F-35s for $2.82 billion, bringing the total number of planes on order to 33. Israel has received U.S. approval to purchase up to 75 aircraft — potentially leading to as much as $15.2 billion in purchases if all options are exercised.”

 Jumping on President Obama for failing to mention Israel’s relief assistance to Haiti following the devastating 2010 earthquake is just plain petty, especially given that Israel’s team didn’t arrive until shortly after the president’s statement.

 Oren also complains that President Obama violated a “no surprises” principles between the two nations when in his first meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, he demanded a settlement freeze and Israeli acceptance of a two-state solution. He seems to have forgotten that limits on settlement building and a two-state solution have been U.S. policy since the Clinton administration.

Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, head of Oren’s Kulanu Party, went so far as to apologize to Ambassador Shapiro, saying Oren represented himself, not Kulanu.

You can read Rep. Levine’s entire piece in the Times of Israel here