Yeah, I know, I recommend a lot of books. But you really must read Ally by Michael Oren, formerly Israel’s Ambassador to the U.S., now a member of Israel’s Knesset, and native of New Jersey. He joined me in studio Thursday, and we talked enough to save some for Monday’s show as well. But even a long conversation cannot convey how incredibly central to understanding U.S.-Israeli relations going forward as this historian-turned-diplomat-turned-politician (and future minister?)’s memoir is.
HH: Do not go anywhere for the next hour and a half. We have got an extraordinary treat for you. Dr. Michael Oren, former ambassador of Israel to the United States, now a member of the Knesset, author of the brand new book, Ally: My Journey Across the American Divide, is in studio with me. Dr. Michael Oren, welcome, it’s great to have you on the program.
MO: It is delightful to be here finally to see you face to face here. Usually, I’m sitting in some battlefield and talking to you from 7,000 miles away.
HH: I talked to you in a tank once on the outside of Gaza in 2009, I think.
HH: You were getting ready to do that, and you were the ambassador, and you went with the troops. Welcome, it’s good to have you.
MO: Great to be here.
HH: This is a great book. It is linked at Hughhewitt.com. I want everyone to go and get many copies of it for a bunch of reasons. It’s the most education a non-Jew can get about Israel that I think is in American terms, because you are an American before you were an Israeli. You gave up your passport, obviously. But you’re from New Jersey.
HH: You wore a banana tux to the senior prom like I did. And what did you call that, lamentable?
MO: The lamentable banana tux.
HH: Yeah, well, same years. We should forget the 70s. But you’re a New Jersey kid, and I wanted to divide this into a few parts – your life, and how you got to be ambassador, President Obama, your tenure as the Israeli ambassador, the Iranian regime and your future. But I want to start with the second, the most controversial stuff about Ally. President Obama, you’re very fair to him in this book. I was talking to you off air. I’ve seen some negative coverage of Ally. But you went out of your way to talk about his 2013 visit in which he showered praise and revoked the reason Israel exists is the Holocaust. I mean, you really did go out of your way to be fair.
MO: And why not? It’s a fair book. I set out to write the most honest book I possibly could within the bounds of, keep in mind, we’re dealing with some classified material. This book was vetted by the Mossad. And so what’s there is what I can disclose. But I think that the purpose of the book is to tell and honest, candid story, to bring my reader into the White House, into these discussions, and to show exactly how policy was made, and how mistakes were made. And sometimes, the mistakes are made by Israel’s side. In my particular case, I think that there were decisions made on the side of the White House which had far-reaching ramifications for Israel and the Middle East. We’re seeing it now in the peace, the talks with the nuclear deal around Iran. Continue Reading