Rosenthal’s vs. Oren’s conduct

The Dish tries to bypass the bulk of Jeffrey Goldberg’s slam yesterday — including Goldberg’s major point that Sullivan consistently refuses to acknowledge the mainstream of the American Jewish polity and Goldberg’s salient remark:  “It seems lately that ‘neocon’ has become Andrew Sullivan’s term for any Jew who disagrees [about Israel] with… Andrew Sullivan.”  Instead, Sullivan wants to handle this sliver:


The real question is: Why is an American diplomat criticizing a foreign ambassador for his choice of speaking engagements in America?

Because she is allowed to answer questions in a press interview

Sure, she’s allowed. Should she have answered a question about antisemitism with a long discourse about how the United States has exterminated Native Americans and marginalized the survivors and how this compares to Europe’s treatment of Jews and Israelis? I mean, she would be allowed … but keeping topics that don’t belong in your job’s focus out of official interviews is considered a measure of competence and good judgment for our government officials.

Don’t Americans who care about antisemitism not spreading, Jews and non-Jews alike, deserve the same standards of conduct for the anti-antisemitism envoy as for their other officials?

and because the ambassador [Oren] should stay out of domestic American politics and not join in a campaign to torpedo a rival to AIPAC. The way in which Oren acted as a faction leader in American Jewish politics, rather than as a neutral representative of his country, open to all people of good will toward Israel,

Um… this is not “domestic American politics.” The American political groups in this case are lobbying groups for a foreign power, Israel, the country Oren is representing. It was entirely professional for him to talk about it.

And Oren’s point was that the conference was plainly attended by many self-professed anti-Zionists, not “all people of good will toward Israel.”

Of course, Sullivan uses the phrase, “open to all people” … It is true that a lot of pro-Labour and pro-Kadima people could have paid the fees and swarmed the J-Street conference to drown out the people there who were against the existence of Israel. They could have handed out literature about the revolting views of some keynote speakers such as Salam al-Marayati. Yes, Oren could have gone, hoping this would have happened — it didn’t.

was obnoxious and undiplomatic. And his position is of far more importance than Rosenthal’s.

I don’t know whether Oren’s utterances were “obnoxious” ( — although I know they did not involve a Mork from Ork impression). As to whether they were more “undiplomatic” than Rosenthal’s … Oren wasn’t talking about an emissary of the United States, or any representative of a foreign country. Rosenthal was.

Rosenthal wasn’t talking about a pro-Obama lobbying group in Israel and its view on world antisemitism. Israeli Ambassador Oren was talking about a “pro-Israel” lobbying group in America. On the face of it, Oren was being less “undiplomatic,” in the professional sense of the word, than Rosenthal in their respective positions.

I’m not going to get into whether Oren’s position is “of far more importance” than an official whose job is anti-antisemitism. It’s a weird comparison. But Sullivan might mean that Oren’s diplomatic professionalism is more important than Rosenthal’s by virtue of their positions. The thing is, Andrew Sullivan has wanted to be an American citizen for a long time now — prevented by unjust laws that have recently been repealed — so Rosenthal’s professional conduct should be the important one for him on that count.


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