Counsel-General attends J Street event

Nadav Tamir attends event after given green light from Foreign Ministry; Michael Oren says dispute with group is close to resolution and that it was “much more in the mainstream.”

By BY HERB KEINON
February 11, 2010 04:12
2 minute read.
The J Street Web site

j street website 311. (photo credit: www.jstreet.org)

 
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Three months after Ambassador to the US Michael Oren pointedly turned down an invitation to attend J Street’s first annual convention in Washington, Israel’s consul-general attended one of the group’s functions last week in Boston.

The Jerusalem Post has learned that the consul-general, Nadav Tamir, went to the event only after seeking, and getting, a green light from the Foreign Ministry. The Post learned that Tamir was told by the ministry that he could attend the event, but not be one of its speakers.

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The Netanyahu government’s relationship with the self described “pro-peace, pro-Israel” lobby has been uneasy from the outset, something reflected in Oren’s decision not to attend the kick-off conference, but rather to send a lower level diplomat to report on the event. That decision was taken at the highest levels in Jerusalem.

Asked about the invitation at the time, the embassy in Washington said it had been “privately communicating its concerns over certain policies of the organization that may impair the interests of Israel.”

J Street seeks to 'expand notion of pro-Israel'


One senior government official denied that the decision to let Tamir attend the event represented an overall change of policy toward the organization, but said rather that permission was granted on an individual basis for Tamir to attend a “local event.”

Another diplomatic official, however, said the permission given to the consul-general indicated that the original policy toward the organization – the one reflected by Oren’s snub – was “unsustainable” in the long run.

The event in Boston, the official said, was co-sponsored by other Jewish organizations, and Israeli officials cannot refuse to attend events sponsored by a number of different groups just because J Street is involved.

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In August, Tamir was called back to Israel briefly and reprimanded by Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman for widely distributing a memo that was extremely critical of Israel’s policies toward the Obama administration, saying that these policies caused damage to strategic ties with Washington.

In an interview with The Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles published this week, Oren said that his dispute with J Street is close to resolution and that the group was “much more in the mainstream.”

“The major concern with J Street was their position on security issues, not the peace process,” he said.

Oren cited J Street’s support in December for the Iran sanctions bill advanced by US Rep. Howard Berman (D-California), the chairman of the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee, and its call on the UN not to be one-sided in its handling of the Goldstone Commission’s allegations of Israeli war crimes in the Gaza Strip.

“J Street has now come and supported Congressman Berman’s Iran sanction bill; it has condemned the Goldstone Report; it has denounced the British court’s decision to try Tzipi Livni for war crimes, which puts J Street much more into the mainstream,” Oren said.

JTA contributed to this report

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