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07 July 2009

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JohnH

Maybe Oren take a high US government position as well. His conflict of interest can't be more than, say, Elliot Abrams, Richard Perle, Dennis Ross, (the list goes on).

Bill Wade, NH, USA

I don't think it's a problem at all unless, if the need ever arose, that legally he could not be declared "persona non grata".

batondor

Interesting... and if I may, Pat, I will answer in three ways:

1) No, it is not problem principally because it seems to be an openly know fact that is unambiguous compared to unsubstantiated claims about individuals such as Rahm Emmanuel...

2) No, it is not a problem as long as he has been filing federal income tax declarations to the IRS as is the obligation of any US citizen living anywhere in the world (and while offsets and tax treaties may not leave him with any payments to the US Treasury, the obligation is very real and meaningful...).

3) Yes, it is a problem from the point of view of moral equivalence. I would not want one of my country's representatives to hold dual loyalties and responsibilities in such a formal manner (read Rahm E.), so how can it be acceptable for a political leader of another country?

Please let me add that his dual citizenship was unknown to me until you reported it, so thanks for that bit of news...

graywolf

Serving in a foreign army.
Why does he still have US citizenship?

J

Colonel,

Looking at the fact that Mr. Oren made 'Alyiah' to Israel in 1979, Oren should have his U.S. citizen status 'revoked' so Oren is an "Israeli only' citizen. That would then end the problem of which hat he wears.

Oren on his own voluntarily 'emigrated' to Israel in 1979 thereby 'turning his back' on our U.S..

J

Colonel,

Also I would consider Mr. Oren a 'hostile espionage agent' against our U.S. the entire time Oren resides on our U.S. soil!

91B

Colonel,
I don't find it problematic that the Israelis have selected one of their own as an ambassador.

What is telling about Oren though, is that he has clearly chosen sides. He has essentially abandoned being American to instead be an Israeli. That's his choice to make I guess.

I suppose we could look on the bright side and realize that he's working for the Israeli government, and not working inside the U.S. government.

I find it sad that people forsake America for ethnicity instead. Ahh well.

91B

Can't believe I forgot to include this in my previous post. I knew Oren's name rang a bell. He's the chief apologist for the Liberty Incident.

According to him, it's case closed.

http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/History/liberty1.html

LaMoose

This seems like a pretty unique situation. I can imagine this happening with countries that are smaller/less consequential... but considering the growing tensions between the Israeli Government and our own, I have a problem with a U.S. citizen actively representing another nation.

For a rather extreme example, consider what would happen if Oren told the U.S. that Israel would attack Iran unilaterally, directly contradicting our stated desires and interests. Should he then, as an American citizen, step down? He would be serving in a government that had, in effect, taken hostile action against us. Maybe that's too harsh, but I would feel uncomfortable with the conflict.

91B

Sorry, but yet another addendum.

Then there's this:
http://www.thetruthseeker.co.uk/print.asp?ID=10051&Pictures=Off

Now that is quite interesting. God Bless the Navy if it's true.

Revenge is a dish best served cold.

Helena Cobban

Look, we now know unequivocally that he is a representative of the govt of Israel. Within American academia that should certainly skewer any pretense that he's a "neutral" observer? If it doesn't, it tells us a LOT about American academia (including Georgetown University.)

Larry Kart

I can certainly see where one could argue that it would be a problem (in perception and probably otherwise) if it were the other way around -- a U.S. official who had dual U.S.-Israeli citizen -- but don't see why it would be a problem this way around. What would Oren's dual citizenship allow him to do as an Israeli official that he couldn't do otherwise? Find out special things about America that are hidden from non-nationals?

Now if we're talking about Mr. Oren's heart, which might be (or even, one could argue, ought to be) severely divided on some issues, who cares as long as he doesn't pontificate about these issues as though he were only a U.S. citizen, not an Israeli official, which I don't think he could get away with for a minute.

John Waring

Dear Sir:

A native American serving as the Israeli ambassador to Washington tends to blur the dividing line between American and Israeli interests. Part of Israeli diplomatic genius lies in their astounding ability to get Americans to believe that Israel is a junior USA. This appointment seems to say, "See, we are just like you. Our ambassador is a real American."

Nothing is further from the truth. We Americans ended Jim Crow in the South during the past century. The Israelis are perpetuating Jim Crow in the West Bank and Gaza, nay, they are feeding Mr. Crow steroids and are permitting him to create a worse racial monster than ever existed in the USA.

Will the time ever arrive when a Palestinian, or Israeli Arab, can become prime minister of Israel? But look who is president of the United States.

The fundamental values of the two states are not the same. Our interests are not mutual. Having a native American serving as ambassador turns what should be hard, fast, and obvious distinctions into mush.

Redhand

To me there is a built in conflict here on "appearance of impropriety" grounds. How can someone serve two masters, and all that?

Maybe another way of considering it is that if the new ambassador gets caught spying, bye bye diplomatic immunity.

On principle, I think the Administration should reject the choice unless the man renounces his US citizenship.

John Kirkman


Dual citizenship is not unusual; it should not be a problem so long as it is recognized that his loyalty is to Israel, a foreign country, and not the United States, his country of birth. Given the nature of his IDF service one would assume he is continuing his intelligence gathering and evaluating mission for Israel. I doubt that one so visible would be their principal spook, but given the nature of the slimeballs in Congress, he may just enjoy throwing it in our face.

PirateLaddie

Col. -- Yes, of course it's a problem. Unfortunately, this is one of the marginal (one hopes) costs of being an open, multi-ethnic nation. Sounds like the Ambo is an American "born & raised," so there's also reason -- in the abstract -- to question just which side his matzo is buttered on.

Theo

George Washington:

"... a passionate attachment of one nation for another produces a variety of evils. Sympathy for the favorite nation, facilitating the illusion of an imaginary common interest in cases where no real common interest exists, and infusing into one the enmities of the other, betrays the former into a participation in the quarrels and wars of the latter without adequate inducement or justification.... And it gives to ambitious, corrupted, or deluded citizens (who devote themselves to the favorite nation), facility to betray or sacrifice the interests of their own country, without odium, sometimes even with popularity..."

Washington's Farewell Address
http://avalon.law.yale.edu/18th_century/washing.asp

matter

According to the Jerusalem Post, "As an American national, it is expected that Oren would have to renounce his US citizenship to accept the post. He indicated that he was willing to do so.."
(http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1239710852833&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull)

Of course, one wonders if he's actually done it.

Should he renounce US citizenship? Absolutely. He's obviously a traitor to the USA.

Rider

The whole issue of dual citizenship is a problem. Two states for two people...please. And the tail does not wag the dog.

If this appointment was intended to win more American friends for Israel, it's not working.

kao_hsien_chih

I think there's something fundamentally inappropriate about a dual national representing one of his or her countries in dealing with the other.

Moreover, with Oren's background as an Israeli spook and propagandist, and given the peculiar relationship between US and Israel, this feels profoundly disturbing. My immediate reaction--and I still can't decide if it is appropriate--was that this is as if Britain decided to send Benedict Arnold as their ambassador to US after the Revolution. Personally, it feels rather insulting.

Twit

I think it's only a problem if Americans make the mistake that because Oren has an American accent and a US passport that he is interested in what's best for the United States.

Other than that, it's not a problem.

That said, it does raise some curiosities, such as dual US-other citizens are required to enter the US on their US passports. Does Oren?

But, dual citizenship - or service in a foreign government or military - is not really that unusual. For example, at least two prime ministers have been dual citizens (John Turner of Canada (UK), and David Thompson of Barbados (US)), as are various members of parliament and other government ministers in countries where this is allowed. Valdas Adamkus ran for president of Lithuania while still a US citizen (but had to renounce it before taking office).

As for the military service issue, many countries conscript all citizen males, regardless of where they live or what passports they hold. For instance, a Texan friend of mine married a Croatian and when visiting Croatia was told by government officials that he was now considered a Croatian citizen and would have to do his military service. He avoided this 'obligation' only through intervention of the US embassy.

The bottom line is that dual citizenship is a complex issue, although it's easy to see why Israel would like to have a native born American, Israel-trained intelligence officer as their ambassador to the United States.

rick

An intelligence officer in a nation's embassy?? Do they allow that?

Since he does not appear to have a job with the US govt, it seems like it would be his US citizenship that would be the issue for his employers. Pretty ironic. I wonder if the Israeli blogosphere finds him suspect.

R Whitman

Michael B Oren is also a published author. The novel "Reunion" 2003.

The book dust jacket states:
" Michael B Oren, a graduate of Princeton and Columbia universities, has received fellowships from the US Departments of State and Defense, and the British and Canadian governments. A former Lady Davis Fellow at Hebrew University and a Moshe Dyan Fellow at Tel Aviv University, he has served as a paratrooper in the Israeli Defense Forces and as advisor to Yitzak Rabin.

He is the author of the New york Times bestseller Six days of war,June 1967 and the Making of the Modern Middle East published by Oxcford University"

Nightsticker

Colonel Lang,

Turning things around to get another view, I find it curious that the IDF doesn't have a problem with a senior officer holding US citizenship. Are there any active duty US military officers that hold Israeli citizenship? Any retired senior US officers that came clean after retirement?

Nightsticker
USMC 65-72
FBI 72-96

charlottemom

more blurring the lines between Israel and US. I'm thinking citizenship in either or both of these countries matters less and less with regard to US policy making.

Mitchell isn't an Israeli dual citizen, nor Hilary , nor Biden.

Report: U.S. okays Israel construction of 2,500 settlement homes
Source: Haaretz

Israel had won agreement from the United States for the continued construction of 2,500 housing units in settlements in the West Bank, despite U.S. calls for a freeze, according to the widespread circulation tabloid daily Ma'ariv.

Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev said the United States and Israel have been trying to find common ground on the sensitive settlement issue, but he had no comment on the front-page report of a deal.

A U.S. embassy spokesman in Tel Aviv also had no immediate comment.

The report followed a briefing by Defense Minister Ehud Barak to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on his talks in London on Monday with U.S. envoy George Mitchell on ending a rift with Washington over its demand for a settlement freeze.

Western officials said the United States was moving in the direction of making allowances so Israel could finish off at least some existing projects which are close to completion or bound by private contracts that cannot be broken.

"This is a concession to avoid causing undue hardships on individuals" who have signed contracts and have already paid for work that cannot be refunded, one of the officials said, adding that discussions were still under way.

"We're talking about polishing off things that are basically done," the official said.

end quote

Right....it's only fair because there were building contracts signed for that illegally obtained property. The US would absorb this cost if we were serious about halting expansion

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