By Benjamin Glatt, JPost—
The 1917 Balfour Declaration viewing the establishment of a Jewish national home in Palestine was the high-water mark of the Jewish people’s diplomacy, deputy minister Michael Oren said.
“It was the first time the international community recognized the right of a Jewish people to a homeland in our tribal lands, the Land of Israel,” he told Erick Stakelbeck on the Trinity Broadcasting Network’s “The Watchman” show presented by Christians United for Israel, over the weekend. “It was the height of our diplomacy.”
Stakelbeck, the host of the 30-minute weekly show on issues of national security and the Middle East, which is geared toward an Evangelical Christian audience, asked his guest to comment on the “modern-day miracle” of the State of Israel and the reasons behind the New York-born Oren decision’s to realize the prophecy of immigrating to Israel.
“I grew up in a working-class neighborhood where I was the only Jewish kid, and I was often the victim of antisemitism,” he said. After his father and brother returned from Europe after fighting on Normandy Beach and liberating Nazi concentration camps, they would remind the young Oren of the importance of a strong Jewish state.
“It had a big impact one me” he said. “And I just always thought of myself as being extraordinarily fortunate to be alive at the time in my people’s history where we did have this state, where we can sit in [the Knesset] here – and have a sovereign flag that represents a strong people with a formidable army.”
Discussing Israel’s strengthening relationship with the US and how it’s gaining the upper hand in its struggle against anti-Israel forces around the world, the former ambassador to the US said the difference between the Trump and Obama administrations is glaring.
“The Obama administration wasn’t hostile to the State of Israel,” he said. “But they did view Israel more as part of the problem rather than part of the solution.”
Trump’s administration on the other hand sees Israel as a light unto the nations in the region.
“If I had to point out one major difference, they view Israel as part of the solution, the solution not just for the questions of peace but for security for the entire Middle East.,” he said. “They look at the Middle East as completely falling apart, and there’s one country that is standing strong, democratic, unreservedly pro-American – that’s the State of Israel.”
Oren said that it was well known that the Arab Spring, the Syrian civil war and the rise of Islamic State had nothing to do with Israel or settlements.
“We know that there was an Arab-Israeli conflict before the first settlement was built, and then we know after that, Israel made repeated offers to make peace to the Palestinians in 2000 and 2008,” he said.
As anti-Israel activists are protesting 100 years to the Balfour Declaration, Oren, who has written several books, including an analysis and history on Israel–US relations called Ally: My Journey Across the American-Israeli Divide, said the Palestinian leadership has no one to blame but itself.
“The Palestinians turned [a peace deal] down not because of settlements,” he said. “The fact of the matter is at the end of the day, Israel is willing to go back to the negotiating table with the Palestinians without preconditions at any time.”