The Shmooze

Obama's New Year's Greeting to Oren

By Renee Ghert-Zand

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Michael Oren, Israel’s ambassador to the United States, was so pleased with a Rosh Hashanah greeting he received Monday from President Barack Obama that he photographed it and put it on Twitter. “I’m deeply appreciative of President @BarackObama’s personal letter for Rosh Hashanah,” the ambassador tweeted.

The letter, typewritten on official White House stationery, was delivered to Oren’s home in Washington. In it, Obama makes specific reference to Oren’s wife Sally and children Yoav, Lia and Noam, wishing them and all others who will gather with the family a good and sweet New Year.

But don’t let the fancy letterhead and “L’Shanah Tovah” sign-off fool you. This may be a High Holiday greeting, but it is also a politician communicating during election season. “This holiday season is a time of reflection: a chance to reaffirm friendships and renew our commitments—including America’s unshakeable commitment to the State of Israel,” the President wrote. He went on to state that the security of Israel is “non-negotiable,” and made a specific point of claiming “the security cooperation between our two countries is stronger than it has ever been.”

Having made his point, Obama lightened up a bit. In thanking Oren for his dedication to public service, the President joked that Oren’s accomplishments are “not bad for a kid from Jersey.” Obama—or more likely someone on his staff—did his homework. Long before he came to live in the Israeli Ambassador’s residence, Oren grew up as Michael Bornstein in West Orange, N.J.

However, only a day later, news reports indicated that behind the niceties there are serious tensions brewing between Obama and Oren’s boss, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “The rift between top U.S. and Israeli leaders appeared to deepen Tuesday as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu leveled the sharpest attacks in years by an Israeli leader against Washington, over differences on how to address Iran’s nuclear program,” Joshua Mitnick and Jay Solomon wrote in the Wall Street Journal. Netanyahu was steaming after Obama apparently snubbed his request for a meeting in New York later this month.

We’ll just have to wait and see how they work things out in the New Year.


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