Michael Oren, Israel's ambassador to the US is a dual Israeli/US national. I am curious to know if people think there is a conflict of interest inherent in that. I first met him when he was a young IDF General Staff intelligence captain working in the IDF headquarters in Tel Aviv. He was from upstate New York and had emigrated to Israel after finishing college in the States.
He has continued to serve as an IDF reserve intelligence officer while pursuing an academic and writing career. He is clearly an "America" specialist for them.
Is this a problem? pl
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).
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”.
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…
Serving in a foreign army.
Why does he still have US citizenship?
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..
Also I would consider Mr. Oren a ‘hostile espionage agent’ against our U.S. the entire time Oren resides on our U.S. soil!
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.
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.
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.
Sorry, but yet another addendum.
Then there’s this:
Now that is quite interesting. God Bless the Navy if it’s true.
Revenge is a dish best served cold.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“… 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
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..”
Of course, one wonders if he’s actually done it.
Should he renounce US citizenship? Absolutely. He’s obviously a traitor to the USA.
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.
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.
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.
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”
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?
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
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.
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
Putting some thought to this issue I have reached several conclusions. The US at one time did not allow dual citizenship and apparently this changed without much oversight or debate by Congress. What does citizenship really mean in a global world? Well citizenship does have some value particularly where the US is concerned! If you don’t think so just look at DHS and its backlog on various types of cases involving potential US citizenship. The US drafted non-citizens in WWII. We drafter Puerto Ricans. Where does this leave US. RIGHT now dual citizens are employed by the US government in various capacities. Perhaps this means a direct or indirect subsidy to the country other than the US but who knows. Apparently this dual citizenship issue is vital to Israeli interests and in particular the almost 50% of the population that fears Israel engaging in a foreign policy that will result in its demise. But speaking from the US standpoint, the country most likely to involve the US in a war it does NOT want to be involved in for its own survival is Israel!
Accordingly, whether dual citizenship is ok with Israel I believe that the US should abolish strictly on a foreign policy basis authorization for dual citizenship with Israel. Of course those holding dual nationality in Israel could choose one citizenship or the other and those choosing US citizenship are welcome home. Or Whatever? What I find interesting is that I think Israel is the real loser on this issue because dual citizens have to by that very fact not have fully committed to the future of Israel as a soverign nation-state or a center. In other words when one says “I am an Israeli” let’s really mean it. Perhaps this issue is the soft underbelly of Israeli!
This isn’t a problem. Israel is a sovereign state (referring to the conversation over Biden’s carefully phrased statement) and can send whom it pleases as ambassador. An ambassador can be a national, dual citizen, or a national of a third country. Of course the ambassador’s credentials and passports must be presented and accepted, though in practical terms these things are probably worked out in advance.
The other problem with ambassadors is the Vatican rejecting (in advance of the actual appointment) several of our ambassadorial appointments. Were I the Secretary of State I’d respond by not appointing one and leaving the lowest ranking employee as charge d’affairs. The position is nothing but a vacation in Rome and we did just fine without one until Reagan came along.
The matter of dual citizenship is another matter. I don’t know where the problem came from. I must not have been paying attention. I do, definitely, recall that in the 1970s a marine friend who had married an Australian girl told me that when their two sons reached the age of 18 they would have to choose American or Australian citizenship. What happened to give us this dual citizenship thing?
Oren’s loyalties are a matter of concern for his masters. For our part, we must assume that his loyalties are to the state he represents.
Here’s one answer about dual loyalties.
“How can someone serve two masters, and all that?”
What “master” do U.S. citizens (who are not in our own armed forces or in our government) serve?
“Should he renounce US citizenship? Absolutely. He’s obviously a traitor to the USA.”
A “traitor”? It happens that I don’t share most of Mr. Oren’s views, but some ordinary U.S. citizens do, on their own hook. Are they traitors? And who decides?
Just to be clear, I think that Oren is special odd case that can be dealt with as need be, but the apparent zest on the part of some posters to leap beyond that case makes me wonder where this sort of thinking is headed. To the pillory or worse, it seems.
This should not be a problem for us as long as no one over here ever forgets that we must always assume that he is serving the interests of Israel.
Should he be caught in some kind of espionage against the U.S. he would presumably be protected by his diplomatic immunity and most likely expelled. Someone with knowledge of the law would have to say if he would be subject to any kind of prosecution in the the U.S. should he attempt to re-enter the country as a U.S. citizen. That could get interesting.
No problem so long as Americans sharing intel with him remember he works for Israel. Which means its a gigantic problem.
Bill Wade, I’m sure he could be legally png’ed, maybe not deported, but stripped of diplomatic immunity and ambassadorial accreditation withdrawn.
But could he be png’ed during a shitstorm of noisy political cover from a shrieking chorus? Be antisemitic, after all, to png any Jew, No? Downright treasonable to impugn an American. Israel’s a bright shining beacon of liberty, Democracy’s aircraft carrier of the Middle East, how dare you even suggest impropriety you beastly racist, terrorist-lover, what’s a few secrets between democracies, etc., etc.
91b thanks very much for your Liberty links – Hollywood couldn’t write this stuff.
There’s no such thing as dual loyalties. A person can have citizenship, affinity, love, whatever, for as many countries as he wants. But he can only have loyalty to one. Period.
Oren’s loyalty is to Israel. Fine. His American citizenship is a useful tool for him, I suppose, but shouldn’t mislead anyone as to where his loyalty lies.
Thus George III to John Adams:
“There is an opinion among some people that you are not the most attached of your countrymen to the manners of France.”
Adams replied, “I must avow to your Majesty, I have no attachment but to my own country.”
“An honest man will never have any other,” said the King.
Sounds right to me.
“Serving in a foreign army.
Why does he still have US citizenship?”
Because there is an exception for Israel. Thanks to AIPAC, one of the largest Israeli espionage organization, and numerous other “dual-nationals” in name who are Israel-firsters in deed.
“EU official: no chance of settlements deal with Israel”
This chap really has Israel figured right, dead on. And what makes it interesting is that he says,
“…the U.S. meticulously coordinates its positions with the EU and other members of the Quartet.”
This may be an overly-close parsing of his words, but when he says “no settlements deal” I think we may take his remarks to be reflective of the hegemonic view, i.e. the meticulously coordinated positions.
Very informative day, SIr;
I would add that indeed the dual citizenship blurs lines terribly – if I remeber correctly, Golda Meir was also US citizen while she was leader of Israel…
I would think that, if he’s serving Israel, then it’s not a problem.
I can’t imagine that the US doesn’t have many ambassadors — or highly placed assistants — like him, the world over.
Were he the US ambassador to Israel, i would have a serious problem.
I should add that i wish i could have dual citizenship.
i think this is a basic human right that should be afforded every person, in every civilized land.
I can understand, for matters of security, that restrictions be placed upon its bureaucratic acceptability.
But for me — i think i could only add to the US discourse, were i to be allowed dual citizenship wtih Taiwan.
I think we should quit taking foreign policy so seriously. I mean, really… Your highschool crazy buddies are more stable than these people.
It’s officially a race to the bottom between Israeli leadership vs. the Iranian leadership.
There should be a betting poll on which one will implode first.
nevermind the ambassador.
Netanyahu appears to be suffering from confusion and paranoia. He is convinced that the media are after him, that his aides are leaking information against him and that the American administration wants him out of office. Two months after his visit to Washington, he is still finding it difficult to communication normally with the White House. To appreciate the depth of his paranoia, it is enough to hear how he refers to Rahm Emanuel and David Axelrod, Obama’s senior aides: as “self-hating Jews.”
Israel has us by the nutts.
If you were referring to
349, item 2.
It’s an interesting wording
“…AND with the intention of relinquishing..” isn’t it? So swearing alligence to another country doesn’t
automatically cost one US citizenship? Odd.
My opinion is that if one publicly declares their status as an agent to a foreign nation it is perhaps not a huge legal conflict, but should indeed
be a personal one. I might be missing something here though.
Of course its not a problem
Everyone in the middle east knows Israel is part of the united states…or, uh, is it the other way around, i can just never remember.
Besides our previous DHS director, Chertoff, was an Israeli citizen and that was cool, right?
It’s quite useful to know which countries accept dual citizenships; a handy resource when examing which countries’ policies could be the most beholden (compromised?) to global financial, regulatory and political forces. It’s not just Israel or US. It’s fairly widespread. And dual citizenship can extend not just to multiple passports, but ability to seek elected office.
Diluting citizenship to quaint biographical blurb is not a good thing, but that is where we are in these global village days.
Just read that Panama’s new President is both an Italian and Panamanian citizen and was educated and resided in US. Quite a citizen of the world is this Martinelli. Also Mayor of Panama City, Panama is US/Panamanian citizen. Crazy times! Is this where we’re heading?
From Wiki: Some countries consider multiple citizenship undesirable and take measures to prevent it; this may take the form of an automatic loss of a citizenship if another citizenship is acquired voluntarily (e.g., in Malaysia, China, Denmark, Japan, Singapore and India)
I know, I know… a harsh generalization.
the idea of “close border” is a recent novelty. For centuries people can go everywhere they want. granted a person can’t go very far, but up until WWI, it’s the norm. Travel documents, hence national identity isn’t widespread until WWII. (heck the idea of nationalism is not much older than 100 years.)
I am not so sure which one is better. Keep everybody cooped up, or travel everywhere they want. I’ve seen the biggest numbskull backpacker who has traveled 4 corners of the world, far worst than a quiet but thoughtful small towner who never travel beyond county line.
but all I can say, a city that is open to everybody for long period of time, has good food, music and better party. In general the people are more open minded and not as uptight about things.
So maybe the solution is to let everybody go to any “open transit port” they want without paper. but to go inland, bring blood sample, biometric, rfid and register to homeland security database. Expect to be tracked like cattle and be hunted by redneck with bad teeth. bring bug spray.
(it’s amazing how everything is so similar everywhere.)
I’m wonder just what projects (spelled hostile espionage) along with U.S. military hardware acquisitions that the new Israeli ambassador will be trying to grease the skids on both officially and un-officially. Israel has been trying to grease the skids of Congress for 3 (unnecessary) large airborne surveillance platforms, even when their E2C Hawkeye’s more than do the job of monitoring their local neighborhood. Israel keeps trying to increase their ‘range’ of strike penetration potentials.
At first, I could not come up with a concrete conflict of interest as long as he cannot get a US security clearance – which he should not if the same rules applied to him as they do to me! (Yeah, I’m being wishful).
But then it dawned on me. He can legally influence elections as a US citizen by both donating money and voting.
It’s fairly minor what an individual can do, but it’s still a conflict of interest.
His US passport should be destroyed.
I keep forgetting about this bit of information when it comes to Israel launching air attack. (I guess they did take my wild suggestion seriously. lol.)
2. The FBX-T will not only be able to track Iranian and Syrian missiles and aircraft but also keep watch on Israeli operations, giving the Washington a handle for stalling them. DEBKAfile’s military sources point out that the Americans are suddenly in a hurry to have the system deployed in the Negev as soon as September. They will then be in position to forestall a possible Israeli pre-emptive attack on Iran’s nuclear installations should one be decided in Jerusalem.
4. Barak and Ashkenazi said on their return from Washington that they had procured US consent to links between Israel’s early warning and missile interceptor systems, the X-band radar (which can pick up a missile 2,000 km from target) and also the American JTAGS satellites (which detects a missile launch).
This is not the case.
Any links between the IDF’s radar and interceptors and the JATG satellites must be channeled through the X-band radar base in the Negev and are not direct. The data passed to Israel will be subject to pre-selection by American decision-makers.
Several billion dollars of US and Israeli funds have been sunk into developing the Arrow, which Israeli officials until recently claimed was a match for Iran’s Shehab-3 ballistic missiles. It turns out now that the Arrow and its Green Pine radar pick up incoming missiles only when they are 800 km short of their target. Israel applied for the FBX-T radar to extend that range to 2,000 km from its territory. But as long as the system is operated exclusively by American personnel, its usefulness for shielding Israel against enemy missiles will circumscribed.
What is one to make of this:
UK cuts Israel weapons contracts
The UK has revoked five export licences for equipment to the Israeli navy because of actions during Israel’s Operation Cast Lead in Gaza this year.
Israel orders 1st stealth F-35 squadron
Israel moved a step closer to receiving its first stealth fighter jets this week after the Israel Air Force submitted an official Letter of Request (LOR) to the Pentagon to purchase its first squadron of 25 F-35 stealth fighter jets. Also known as the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF), the F-35 will be one of the most-advanced fighter jets in the world and will enable Israel to phase out some of its older F-15 and F-16 models. The JSF is manufactured by Lockheed Martin. Defense officials said that while the LOR was submitted this week, negotiations regarding the final price of the plane – estimated at around $100 million – as well as the integration of Israeli systems would continue. The LOR will be followed by the signing of a contract in the beginning of 2010. The first aircraft are scheduled to arrive in Israel in 2014. The first stage of the deal will be the purchase of 25 aircraft, which will compromise the first Israeli F-35 squadron. In a later stage, the IAF plans to purchase an additional 50 aircraft, some of them with vertical take-off and landing capabilities. According to senior IDF officers, the Defense Ministry and the Pentagon have reached understandings on most of the major issues that have been at the core of disagreement between the sides. Israeli demands have focused on three issues – the integration of Israeli-made electronic warfare systems into the plane, the integration of Israeli communication systems and the ability to independently maintain the plane in the event of a technical or structural problem.
SOmebody better make sure those F-35 will not be delivered BEFORE economic recovery, or else Israel will drive up oil price to the moon by this or that military aggression. (not to mention Russia will have a field trip measuring the radar signature in real life action.)
Michael Oren renounced his American citizenship. It was a requirement of his becoming an Israeli Ambassador by the government of Israel.
If Oren gave up his US citizenship, then I welcome him to Washington. pl
To my knowledge, Michael “Skeletor” Chertoff was the highest official with dual Israeli/US citizenship ever.
As to diplomats, the ambassador is expected to be a direct channel between the top politicians. Economic promoters talk to each other via career service embassy people, while the president talks to the prime minister via the ambassador.
This is why it is ok, and in fact sensible, that some big donor to the president’s campaign gets appointed to (say) New Zealand. Even if he is a drunk and a buffoon, he can get someone in the White House on the line. The elected top dog of NZ needs this access.