Thursday, April 29, 2010

Will Michael Oren Put His House in Order?

The New York Times decided to illustrate the complexity and, at times, cross-purpose nature of israeli politics by highlighting the inherent contradictions between the same-time visits of Defense Minister Barak and Jerusalem Mayor Barkat in Washington.

But read this:

Across town, on Capitol Hill, the mayor of Jerusalem, Nir Barkat, was making his own rounds...“There is no freeze,” Mr. Barkat said. “We’re minding our own business, building the city for the residents.”

That is not what the Obama administration wants to hear...Nor is it the message the Israeli government wants to broadcast right now...

...The Israeli Embassy was chagrined by Mr. Barkat’s remarks...

“For him, it’s fantastic; for us, it’s lousy timing,” said a spokesman for the embassy, Jonathan Peled. He tried to put things in perspective, comparing Mr. Barkat to Mayor Adrian M. Fenty of Washington. “He’s not going to be the one negotiating peace with the Palestinians, in the same way that Fenty is not going to be the one negotiating the Start agreement with Russia,” Mr. Peled said.

...“The issue is whether Netanyahu is getting a grip on his bureaucracy,” said David Makovsky, a senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and a co-author of the book “Myths, Illusions and Peace.”

A. It really isn't the task of Mr. Peled to mouth-off on Barkat as he did. Besides the fact that Barkat's position is the same as Netanyahu's, at least his public position, is Peled working for Barak or the Israeli government - or Meretz or Ir Amim?

B. As for Makovsky, he really should know better that bureacraciers are creatures of their own but more importantly, in a democracy, municipalities really do have the releative freedom to approve construction or not. What "grip" would he prefer?

Makovsky is a free agent, a pundit. Oren, however, is the one someone needs get a grip on so that he gets a grip on his spokesperson's gripe, or maybe a simply provide him with an understanding of the rules of bureaucracy.


Israel Seen said...

Barkat had the chutzpa to play spoiler in the situation between the U.S. and Israel. To come to the U.S. and mouth off and not coordinate with our embassy, normal protocol, shows that he is just another political player that is NOT interested in the best for Israel but just his own personal self aggrandizement.

YMedad said...


Maybe it is Jerusalem's place in Jewish history that he is aggrandizing?

And trust me, no one coordinates anything in Israel.

YMedad said...

Jonathan Tobin wrote:-

...people who, like Peled, are tasked with the difficult job of selling Israel’s position on its capital to both the administration and to the American public, should be wary of making it appear as though they are throwing Barkat under the proverbial bus.

Disavowing a respected mayor who is also an articulate advocate for the same position as the Netanyahu government on Jerusalem may make it a little easier to deal with the White House this week but in the long run it can have a deleterious effect on Israel’s efforts to defend its capital in Washington and at home.