Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Why Oren SHOULD Have Spoken at J Street

Yesterday's post was an analysis of why Ambassador Oren has chosen not to attend J Street's upcoming conference. In that post I wrote about why he likely decided not to. This post is about why he should have.

It's clear that Ambassador Oren had good reasons for not attending the upcoming J Street conference, much to their dismay. That being said, coming to the conference would have had several benefits for Israel and for the Israeli embassy.

1) Coming to the conference would have been good power politics. Not going to the conference shows that the Israeli government is afraid to take J Street head on. Going to the conference would have been a strong sign of confidence, and giving an Obama-at-Notre-Dame style speech would have been even a stronger sign. It would also have demonstrated that J Street was not so salient or controversial that it was a threat to the unity the traditional right wing groups are concerned about. By not participating, it looks like the government is scared to deal with the group, which itself represents a fractured American Jewish pro-Israel community.

2) Oren's participation in the conference would have created a positive relationship between J Street and the Israeli Embassy. Alliances work both ways, and while ideologically the two may differ, all politics is personal. A J Street staff who knows and likes the Israeli embassy staff is much more likely to make less confrontational statements than a staff who is at odds with the embassy.

3) Ambassador Oren made a safe decision. However, the decisions that will make a difference in the long term for Israel are the risky decisions. Whether the choice to invade Egypt preemptively in 1967, extradite Eichmann to Israel, or sign the 1979 Camp David accords, success for Israel has often required taking risks for peace and security. That Oren will not participate in the conference shows that Israel is erring on the side of caution and inaction when the window to act is closing.

Participation in the conference would have demonstrated that the Israeli government is willing to be as aggressive in peacemaking as it is in warfighting.

No comments:

Post a Comment