Ally: My Journey Across the American-Israeli Divide

Ally: My Journey Across the American-Israeli Divide

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLERMichael B. Oren’s memoir of his time as Israel’s ambassador to the United States—a period of transformative change for America and a time of violent upheaval throughout the Middle East—provides a frank, fascinating look inside the special relationship between America and its closest ally in the region.   Michael Oren served as the Israel...

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Title:Ally: My Journey Across the American-Israeli Divide
Author:Michael B. Oren
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Edition Language:English

Ally: My Journey Across the American-Israeli Divide Reviews

  • Loren

    A very powerful and timely book about the treatment of an important ally since 2008. Oren does a good job not only discussing the actions of the US but equally balances some of the more questionable actions taken by the Israelis especially early on. Still its flabbergasting after completing this book that this has become the state of affairs between two amazing allies thanks to a single man's worldview. Even more important with recent news about on-going Iranian nuclear talks.

  • Bert  Hopkins

    A must read for anyone worried as I am about the survival of Israel and the Iranian bomb.

  • George Serebrennikov

    Winston Churchill said once “You can always count on Americans to do the right thing - after they've tried everything else.” Reading the book by Michael Oren makes me think that as far as the current administration is concerned, the latter is still true, but former is most likely the wishful thinking.

    For me the clear sign of the great book when I feel two contradictory wishes: to get to the last page as soon as possible and to experience the joy of reading the book forever. Outstanding job

    Winston Churchill said once “You can always count on Americans to do the right thing - after they've tried everything else.” Reading the book by Michael Oren makes me think that as far as the current administration is concerned, the latter is still true, but former is most likely the wishful thinking.

    For me the clear sign of the great book when I feel two contradictory wishes: to get to the last page as soon as possible and to experience the joy of reading the book forever. Outstanding job by former Israeli ambassador to the United States.

  • Fred Donaldson

    Michael Oren grabs your attention and gently and inexorably guides you through the minefield of Israeli and American political relations while introducing the major players, the historic settings and explaining motives and strategy. A fascinating insight from a man who grew up Jewish in New Jersey, raised a family and served in the IDF in Israel, then came to the US as ambassador. A true ally who shows just what that means.

  • thewanderingjew

    Michael Oren covers decades of his involvement with Israel and America. For almost half a century he has loved both countries, demonstrating his respect and admiration for both. In this book, he tries to illuminate the magnificence and beauty of Israel’s accomplishments and the value of its achievements and its democracy to the rest of the world; it is a democracy that stands alone in the heart of a Middle East surrounded by enemies that have tried to annihilate it in the past and still want to

    Michael Oren covers decades of his involvement with Israel and America. For almost half a century he has loved both countries, demonstrating his respect and admiration for both. In this book, he tries to illuminate the magnificence and beauty of Israel’s accomplishments and the value of its achievements and its democracy to the rest of the world; it is a democracy that stands alone in the heart of a Middle East surrounded by enemies that have tried to annihilate it in the past and still want to in the present. He concentrates on revealing the relationship between Israel and America as it morphed over several administrations. To this end, he often points out the unjust ways in which Israel has often been portrayed by the United Nations, the Palestinians and, recently, by the United States, under the guise of the Obama administration.

    Consistently in the Arab/Israeli crisis, a one sided view has been presented to the world by the Arab nations and the UN, but, for the first time, it has been maligned by an American administration, as well. Whether or not you agree with the current President’s policies toward any of the countries in the Middle East, it is a fact that never before has any President or its administration been so condemnatory and, to coin my own term, “uneven-handed” when dealing with Israel or its leaders. Heretofore, the image of Israel was important to the leaders of the United States, and it would never endanger it, or make more vulnerable, that tiny nation, by exhibiting loose lips announcing negative interpretations of events, carelessly assigning blame to Israel for casualties incurred while defending itself against attacks. Never before has the US openly sided with terrorists that launched the attacks. Some might say that this administration has taken the shaming of Israel to an art form by also employing Jews to do the dirty work, in many cases; Jews like Rahm Emanuel and David Axelrod, who represent the extreme left wing of the Democrat party and not necessarily the best interests of Israel, are vocally negative and even insulting, stooping to name-calling. The carefully chosen and perhaps naïve Jews and liberals have been placed in positions of importance to send messages that have presented a more destructive picture of Jews and Israel than ever before, creating more danger for Jews everywhere as evidenced by an increasing amount of anti-Semitism worldwide.

    When America indicates its disinterest and perhaps its lessened concern for the support of Israel, it is open season on such behavior everywhere. Sadly, this administration has often undermined Israel’s image while at the same time it has strengthened and propped up the image of Arab countries, dictatorships and terrorists, dismissing their behavior, often downplaying it, and reprimanding Israel and its leaders for exercising their right to defend themselves, publicly considering their methods unnecessarily heavy-handed, even while saying they have the right to defend themselves from the attacks which themselves are not called heavy-handed. The administrations remarks underplay the fear that Israel’s citizens are forced to live with everyday, of rockets launched into their country intended to destroy their cities and maim and murder as many victims as they can in an attempt to wipe Israel from the face of the map and/or to destroy its economy and tourism industry.

    While the leaders of the United States swear they have Israel covered, that they have its back, they send mixed messages with the world watching as the U.S. constantly retreats from promises it has made finding one or another eloquent excuse. Obama is a very able speaker, but sometimes his words and his actions do not converge. Obama encouraged the Arab Spring with his speech in Cairo, but then did little to encourage democracy there. His actions did not speak louder than his words. Rewording a quote, he seems to speak loudly but carries a small stick, unlike Theodore Roosevelt. For failures, he blames everyone else. He has blamed George Bush’s invasion of Iraq for the rise of Isis when it was his failed Middle Eastern policies and early withdrawals from countries that needed our support that caused it to spread. He has drawn red lines which behave like a moveable feast, repositioning themselves or even disappearing as needed. Humiliating Israel and its leaders for misdemeanors while ignoring the Palestinian felonies should have decent Americans up in arms. Muslims are demanding an end to Israel. These are the same people who took down the Towers, the same who demand, as well, death to America. One has to wonder if Obama’s administration is more interested in his legacy than in preserving world peace and America’s superiority and honor. He insists that the Americans have no stomach for war, but do they have a stomach for the ultimate chaos that will ensue when the world spirals out of control, when nuclear weapons proliferate?

    As each page turns, the reader is given a glimpse of what went on behind the scenes during various important negotiations and conversations, during times when there were differences of opinion, during times that the Obama administration tried to dictate Israeli politics, even as it criticized Israel’s attempt to influence that of America. Obama often stroked one side of the Israeli cheek as he slapped the other in an embarrassing public display. An interesting comment was made by Oren at the end of his book. He stated that, ironically, Arab enemies have grown closer to their Israeli enemy in their common fear of the American President. Too often, he says one thing and does another, he does not support his allies, he betrays his friends and reneges on promises, he exacts retribution for perceived slights; as the adult in the room, he has very thin skin. Because of his past performance, can he be trusted? He tends to speak out of both sides of his mouth, using double speak to avoid taking a stand, and when a stand is taken, he often does not defend his own position and is slow or unwilling to act in a timely fashion. His goal does not always appear to be to protect our allies or Israel, as all other Presidents have done, instead he seems to want to preserve the global alliances and diminish the importance of America as a superpower in the world. He wants the U.S. to be reduced to just another member of the UN, another country at the negotiating table, but a country without its former power.

    If the current situation continues, Jews may soon have to come to grips with their new disdained world status, made worse by Obama’s politics, made worse by his threats of same, and perhaps by his effort to make it a self-fulfilling prophecy, and by their own behavior, by not acting in their own self-interest. There is an increase in the jaded views of Jews themselves; they have forgotten the words “never again” and could be setting the stage for another genocide. They appear to be worshiping at the feet of the God of Pollyanna, while they ignore the G-d of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, fooling themselves into believing they are only “Americans” as they once thought they were only “Germans”. But they were then and are now, simply Jews. Do they not see that this administration has begun to mirror the behavior of the UN, which has always been anti Israel and pro-Palestinian, ignoring the terrorist attacks, ignoring the fact that they started the wars, and that their lies were often inaccurate portrayals of the truth, yet their side was always accepted as gospel and publicized while Israel, although innocent, was condemned?

    One must, in the end, ask why Obama’s administration has deliberately shown such disrespect to the leader of Israel. Do American Jews want Netanyahu to be blackmailed by Obama? Bibi lost a brother in the fight for Israel, the country that welcomes all Jews to one degree or another. Former Ambassador Oren also gave up a family member and suffered the injury of another, in the support of Israel. His wife’s sister died in a bus bombing and his son was wounded during his tour of duty. So how can any outsiders, especially those who have not made any superlative sacrifices, even presume to decide what is good for Israelis or what will benefit Israel, other than Israelis? This is the first administration to demand that Israel return to pre 1967 borders, not only an impossibility, but a non-negotiable item because it would endanger the security of Israel. The demand was made deliberately, to put Israel between a rock and a hard place, to embarrass the Netanyahu government and to influence the Israeli elections, the very objection he voiced when Netanyahu addressed our Congress when he was running for reelection. Obama’s efforts backfired, but it doesn’t diminish the interference or damage done by the demand. After reading this book, if nothing else, the reader should begin to wonder whether or not the United States is serious about having not only Israel’s back, but any ally’s back.

    Oren has placed the reader’s eye and ear to the door of meetings that were not made public. He was prescient in his deductions but his warnings concerning Obama’s foreign policy went unheeded allowing Obama to single-mindedly continue to pursue his agenda. The reader will have to decide this for themselves, but there is ample information in this book to make them question the policies of the current government when it comes to dealing with all of its allies. Its many mistakes and unfulfilled promises have gone unreported or under reported by a liberal media that is engineering the presentation of news and information in order to support Obama. Honestly speaking, when a President implies that all those who disagree with him are stupid, how many do you believe will be courageous enough to stand up and disagree? Yet, what if it is the current administration’s policies that are stupid or faulty and the results wind up being deadly for Israel in the short term and Jews everywhere, in the long term? Read the book think seriously about why Obama is relinquishing our power by giving credence and rights, regarding Israel, to a UN that has been unfairly judging it for years. Is this administration going to say that giving the UN greater power and the Palestinians recognition is also the best deal that they can get, and it is better than no deal, as they have been saying about the deal with Iran? When it is once again too late because America has dragged its feet when coming to the table and/or its senses, will that excuse still be acceptable?

    The flower children of the 60’s, preoccupied with sex and drugs, carrying flowers and smoking peace pipes, in the end only accomplished the dumbing down of our current culture. They are the professors and J Street followers of today, they are the mentors who are teaching our children. Naively, they believe that being pro-Palestinian is equal to being pro-peace when, in actuality, if their agenda succeeds, it probably signals the end of Israel as a Jewish state. All over college campuses evidence of anti-Israel sentiment and efforts to boycott Israel are rampant and increasing, largely due to their misguided efforts. They are Jews fighting Jews, and the world loves that circus. Political correctness is alive and well too, maligning those who disagree with their efforts and shutting down any dialogue by labeling it racism or making some other disparaging remark effectively shutting down the very free speech college used to foster, the very atmosphere where ideas used to germinate and grow.

    A criticism of the book has been that it is self-serving, if it is, what was Obama’s reason for writing his many books, or Hillary’s for that matter? Regardless of where the reader stands on an issue, what cannot be denied is the double standard used when it comes to dealing with Israel when compared to other Middle Eastern nations or even African nations that frequently commit genocide. Sadly, Obama’s behavior has encouraged, intended or not, an atmosphere which has proliferated anti-Semitism, boycotts of Israel and chaos all around the Middle East and the world. To deny those facts is to deny reality. The book should be read and analyzed by every thinking Jew as well as every thinking American, because knowledge is the best weapon. When Americans finally have a stomach for war or for a show of strength, will it be too late?

  • Mark Hertling

    Pleasurably readable and tremendously insightful book by the Israeli Ambassador to the U.S., who held the position for most of the Obama administration. Oren - American born, raised, and educated; accomplished historian and writer; and "Peace for Galilee" (82 war) IDF paratroop veteran - provides descriptions, analysis and assessment of those events and personalities involved in the U.S.-Israeli relationship during historical times...but not in a typically Washingtonian insider's way. His commen

    Pleasurably readable and tremendously insightful book by the Israeli Ambassador to the U.S., who held the position for most of the Obama administration. Oren - American born, raised, and educated; accomplished historian and writer; and "Peace for Galilee" (82 war) IDF paratroop veteran - provides descriptions, analysis and assessment of those events and personalities involved in the U.S.-Israeli relationship during historical times...but not in a typically Washingtonian insider's way. His comments on both Obama and Netanyahu and all their lieutenants are pure gold. This was a fun book to read.

  • Sharon Young

    I thought Ally was very much on target and it confirmed my opinions on the state of American-Israeli relations. I also agreed with Oren's insights regarding American Jews feelings towards Israel, or lack thereof, as well as Israel's "PR problem".

    One particular section under the heading "Hatchet Jobs", was shocking though not surprising... I am quoting Oren's discussion with the NYT Op-Ed editor Andy Rosenthal regarding fact checking.

    "Most malicious was the op-ed page of The New York

    I thought Ally was very much on target and it confirmed my opinions on the state of American-Israeli relations. I also agreed with Oren's insights regarding American Jews feelings towards Israel, or lack thereof, as well as Israel's "PR problem".

    One particular section under the heading "Hatchet Jobs", was shocking though not surprising... I am quoting Oren's discussion with the NYT Op-Ed editor Andy Rosenthal regarding fact checking.

    "Most malicious was the op-ed page of The New York Times, once revered as an interface of ideas, now sadly reduced to a sounding board for only one, which often excluded Israel's legitimacy. The page's contributors accused Israel of ethnic cleansing, brutal militarism, racism of several stripes, and even "pinkwashing" - exploiting its liberal policy toward lesbians and gays to cover up is oppression of Palestinians. After awhile, I simply gave up trying to debunk such lunacy. Only once, when an op-ed by Mahmoud Abbas suggested that the Arabs had accepted the UN's Partition Plan in 1947 while Israel rejected it, did I feel compelled to phone the page's editor, Andy Rosenthal."

    "When I write for the Times, fact checkers examine every word I write," I began. 'Did anyone check whether Abbas has his facts exactly backward?'

    'That's your opinion,' Rosenthal replied.

    'I'm an historian, Andy, and there are opinions and facts. That the Arabs rejected partition and the Jews accepted it is an irrefutable fact.'

    'In your view.'

    'Tell me, on June 6, 1944, did Allied forces land or did they not land on Normandy Beach?'

    "Rosenthal, the son of a Pulitzer Prize-winning Times reporter and famed executive editor, replied, 'Some might say so.'"

    Ally is an engaging, thought-provoking and heart-felt memoir which will open up many eyes as to the challenges Israel faces and strives to overcome.

  • Steven Z.

    The deadline for a nuclear agreement with Iran passed on June 30th and the odds of eventually coming to an accommodation remain up in the air. The American realpolitik to reach a consensus dates back to the election of Barack Obama who has stressed the diplomatic card in dealing with Iran since his inauguration, and at the same time offered that “all options were on the table.” Iran’s nuclear development in addition to the correct approach in dealing with the Palestinians form the major disagree

    The deadline for a nuclear agreement with Iran passed on June 30th and the odds of eventually coming to an accommodation remain up in the air. The American realpolitik to reach a consensus dates back to the election of Barack Obama who has stressed the diplomatic card in dealing with Iran since his inauguration, and at the same time offered that “all options were on the table.” Iran’s nuclear development in addition to the correct approach in dealing with the Palestinians form the major disagreements between the United States and Israel as is related in Michael Oren, who served as former Israeli ambassador to the United States from 2009 to 2013 new memoir ALLY: MY JOURNEY ACROSS THE AMERICAN-ISRAELI DIVIDE. Oren’s main goal is to impart to the reader his struggle to maintain the “special relationship” between the two countries, and the difficulties he encountered in trying to do so. The key was to keep the “day light” between the positions of the two allies to a minimum. As Oren relates this proved to be very difficult with a new President who had his own agenda for the Middle East. For Barack Obama, diplomacy and economic sanctions were effective tools in dealing with the ayatollahs in Teheran. Opposing Israeli settlement expansion and alluding to the pre-1967 borders for a Palestinian state became his mantra. Throughout his memoir, Oren repeatedly argues why these positions were untenable from an Israeli security perspective and how he went about dealing with an administration that seemed to alternate between pressuring Israel, at times ignoring her needs, and then supporting Tel Aviv when the need arose. The book also explores in depth the relationship between Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a relationship that was fraught with land mines.

    ALLY is more than a justification for Israeli policies and trying to get along with an American administration that was difficult to trust. Oren delves into his own background of being born an American and the dual nature of his outlook. Seeing himself as part American and part Israeli, Oren is conflicted at times as he tries to reconcile the differences between the two countries that form his dual persona. Oren’s description of growing up in New Jersey, attending Columbia, and finally making aliya (emigration) to Israel is often clouded by a vision of becoming his own version of an Israeli sabra (Israeli born national). His idealism as it pertains to Israel and Jewish history strongly reeks of a Leon Uris novel. Every harsh event or training he undergoes, be it as a paratrooper or as private citizen is seen in the context of Jewish history in which he places himself. I realize this is a memoir, but this approach can be tiresome. While studying at Princeton in 1983 Oren realized the community of fate that existed between the United States and Israel and the need for a close alliance between the two. It was at this time that Oren was exposed to the toxicity of leftist’s historians and politicians who saw Israel as a bridgehead of western imperialism in the Middle East. It seemed to have made a deep impression on Oren and would be a major theme in his memoir - the hypocritical nature of excoriating Israel and treating the Arabs paternalistically. Oren’s anger is clear as his distress in dealing with the revisionist writings of Israeli historians who question the mythology associated with the 1948 and 1967 wars.

    While touring the United States for the Israeli government in 2008, Oren wrote an article where he predicted that should Obama be elected president problems would arise between Tel Aviv and Washington. Obama had revealed his opposition to Israeli settlement building and his support for Palestinian rights as Oren writes that “Obama might be expected to show deeper sympathy for the Palestinian demand for a capital in Jerusalem…and greater flexibility in including Hamas in negotiations,” he further stated that Obama would call for “less saber-rattling and more direct diplomacy and pledged to engage with Syria and Iran.” (44) As Oren details in his memoir these fears came to fruition as soon as Obama was inaugurated. Once ensconced in the oval office according to Oren the appointment of George Mitchell, the former Maine Senator as America’s top Middle East negotiator did not bode well for Israel as in the past he had exonerated Yasir Arafat from any involvement in the Second Intifada. Further, Obama appointed Jim Jones as his National Security Advisor who had been very critical of Israel when he was the Department of State enjoy to the region in 2007. In addition, Obama’s first presidential interview was with Al Arabiya, where he emphasized his Moslem family connections and the desire to restore relations in the region to “where they were twenty or thirty years ago.” (49) In dealing with Iran as the IAEA reported they had produced enough low-enriched uranium to produce one nuclear weapon, but instead the United States concentrated on Israel to suspend all settlement construction and endorse a two state solution at the same time Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas, turned down Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s offer for Palestinian statehood. It seemed to Oren that Obama’s mind was preset no matter what circumstances might hold. In 2009, Oren was chosen Israeli ambassador to the United States and many labeled him as “Bibi’s mouthpiece” in Washington. As any ambassador, Oren presented the position of his government as best he could. Portraying himself as somewhat of a referee between Obama and Netanyahu the reader is presented with a window into the Israeli Prime Minister’s background and belief system, and how he went about bridging the gap between these two diverse men.

    Oren offers numerous examples of disagreements, anger, and outright hostility between Israel and the United States during his ambassadorship. Condemnation of Israeli actions in Gaza, but none against Assad’s murderous policy in Syria or Iran’s crackdown on the Green Revolution was viewed from Tel Aviv as hypocritical. The overriding issue for Obama was to obtain a settlement freeze to bring Abbas to the negotiating table. For Oren, Obama was doing Abbas’s dirty work because the President would pressure Israel, but the Palestinian leader would offer nothing in return. Obama rarely addressed Israeli sensitivities and seemed to always criticize Israeli actions, be it in Gaza or elsewhere, but he never mentioned Hamas rockets that were landing in Israel. Overall, for Oren, Obama, either did not care to learn, or just chose to ignore the nuances needed in dealing with conflict in the Middle East. An excellent example would be the Obama administration’s response to the Arab spring. For the president events in Tunisia and Egypt were a call for democratic government, living in the region, Israel saw events through a different lens as they felt the Arab reaction was due to humiliation and a loss of dignity. The resulting elevation of the Moslem Brotherhood, a ”political cousin” to Hamas, and American comments supporting the new Egyptian President Mohammad Morsi who immediately began supplying weapons to Hamas was unacceptable to Israel. Further, Obama stated on May 18, 2011 that “We believe the borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps,” raising the question in Israel as to why the Palestinian Authority was being rewarded when they had stonewalled negotiations for two years.

    Perhaps Oren’s best chapter is entitled, “the Years of Affliction.” The year 2011 had been rife with crisis. The flotilla incident with Turkey as Islamic jihadists had joined a supply flotilla designed to arm and supply Hamas forces in Gaza resulted in the death of Turkish nationals when Israeli forces tried to board a ship and were met with gunfire. A year later, to assuage Obama, Netanyahu agreed to apologize to Turkish Prime Minister Recip Tayyip Erdogan. When all seemed under control and the apology was issued, the Turkish president responded by bragging how he humiliated Israel and would break the blockade of Gaza by force. The Iranian nuclear controversy grew more and more heated throughout the year and Obama pressed for a diplomatic solution employing sanctions and the Israelis worried that there window to stop Iran was fast closing. More and more Israel felt its “Qualitative Military Edge” over its enemies was narrowing, while Washington, who historically was committed to its maintenance disagreed. On the Israeli domestic side, the Carmel forest fire was a threat to Haifa and was finally controlled, this time with American aid. For the United States, its funding of the Iron Dome weapons system to protect Israel from Hamas rockets was enough support, and it refused to condemn Hamas even when it used human shields to protect its launch sites.

    Oren’s chapter dealing with Israel’s portrayal in the American media is very interesting. He sees this as a matter of Israeli national security and spends a great deal of time parsing how Israel is presented. He is concerned there is an anti-Israel bias that has become so pervasive that even the New York Times, Washington Post, and 60 Minutes seem to be purveyors of an image of Israel that their enemies have created. He points to a 60 Minutes feature that accuses Israel of persecuting Christians. The details Oren provides are explicit and argues against the myth that Jews control the American media as even reporters like Thomas Friedman have been inadvertently coopted into this cabal. If in fact this is true, Oren might be on to something or perhaps Israel has become a victim of the new digital world, and the recent media sophistication of its enemies.

    The question as to whether the Obama administration would defend Israel against an Iranian nuclear attack is a major theme in the book and encompasses Netanyahu’s frustration with the president. This carries over to Obama’s second term when he replaced what Oren viewed as a fairly pro-Israeli group headed by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta with Chuck Hagel, who refused to label Hezbollah as a terrorist group, and John Kerry who Oren believes has a soft spot for the Palestinians. Whether Oren’s observations are true or not is beside the point, this is an Israeli perception that affects the relationship with the only democratically elected government in the Middle East. It is obvious that it is very difficult to work with Benjamin Netanyahu at times, as highlighted by his reelection campaign, but the American-Israeli relationship is extremely important in terms of the national security interests of both countries. At times it seems that Oren goes overboard and is a bit polemical, but that can be the nature of a memoir. Perhaps Oren should stick to narrative history as his books; JUNE, 1967 and POWER, FAITH, AND FANTASY: AMERICA IN THE MIDDLE EAST are excellent. Overall, this a provocative “kiss and tell” memoir, and is important in understanding how Israel thinks of their plight living in the midst of a hostile neighborhood.

  • Nick Lloyd

    I don't know what led me to believe this would be a fair (or even insightful) look into US-Israel relations. Perhaps it was the candor and even-handedness of Ari Shavit's great book "My Promised Land". However I came to read this book, I was clearly duped. This was a politically written account of Israel during the Obama Administration straight from Netanyahu's mouth. No perspective, no introspection, no sympathy (or empathy) for the Palestinians who live under Israeli occupation. Is Israel a co

    I don't know what led me to believe this would be a fair (or even insightful) look into US-Israel relations. Perhaps it was the candor and even-handedness of Ari Shavit's great book "My Promised Land". However I came to read this book, I was clearly duped. This was a politically written account of Israel during the Obama Administration straight from Netanyahu's mouth. No perspective, no introspection, no sympathy (or empathy) for the Palestinians who live under Israeli occupation. Is Israel a country with enemies? Of course. But to completely write off terrorism as if it just came out of the sky, and is in no way influenced by the continued building of settlements (which the UN calls illegal) in the West Bank, or the continued occupation of Gaza, is just madness.

  • Emma S

    Michael Oren's book needs some serious fact checking, which is shameful based on his record as a historian. He strays so far from the truth at so many points that it is downright mind boggling. For example, he discusses the 2010 forest fire in the Carmel Forest near Haifa. I am a Haifa resident, I was here during the fire, I know people who died in the fire, and Michael Oren strays so far from the facts on this event that it casts doubt on his book as a whole.

    He calls it terrorism, ignoring the

    Michael Oren's book needs some serious fact checking, which is shameful based on his record as a historian. He strays so far from the truth at so many points that it is downright mind boggling. For example, he discusses the 2010 forest fire in the Carmel Forest near Haifa. I am a Haifa resident, I was here during the fire, I know people who died in the fire, and Michael Oren strays so far from the facts on this event that it casts doubt on his book as a whole.

    He calls it terrorism, ignoring the fact that a teenager admitted to starting the fire by accident with a shisha coal, and that the Israeli Police themselves closed the case on this. He claims that Israel quickly ran out of firefighting supplies due to being a small country, ignoring the report of the State Comptroller that places the blame for Israel's dismal firefighting ability on mismanagement and corruption of the Interior Minister, Eli Yishai, who diverted firefighting funds to yeshivas. He claims that the fire was put out by Israel alone before the planes arrived, but the fire wasn't put out until after several sorties by foreign aircraft, among them a leased 747 supertanker--which made a huge difference when it arrived. I watched these planes fly by with my own eyes, dumping water on the still burning woods.

    The state comptroller's report laid personal responsibility for this mess on the Interior Minister and the Prime Minister, which Oren ignores to save his boss. This part of the book I can fact check for myself. I lived it. If he's this far off here, what else is he lying about?

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