By Eileen Fleming
Israel’s former ambassador to Washington, USA born Michael Oren exemplifies the latter and Kameel Nasr from Lebanon and Boston the former.
Oren served as Israel’s ambassador in Washington from 2009 to 2013 and is now a Knesset member in Israel’s center-right Kulanu party.
Launching his new book “Ally: My Journey Across the American-Israeli Divide” in an Op-Ed piece on Tuesday, titled How Obama Abandoned Israel in The Wall Street Journal he wrote:
From the moment he entered office, Mr. Obama promoted an agenda of championing the Palestinian cause and achieving a nuclear accord with Iran.
Such policies would have put him at odds with any Israeli leader.
But Mr. Obama posed an even more fundamental challenge by abandoning the two core principles of Israel’s alliance with America.
The first principle was ‘no daylight’ and the other core principle was ‘no surprises.’
As the ultraviolet radiation in sunlight works as a natural disinfectant what is needed is more light to help break up the dysfunctional codependent US-Israeli “special relationship” and author Kameel Nasr is providing some.
To promote the 25th anniversary re-release of his adventure cycling biography, THE WORLD UP CLOSE, Nasr wants to send a couple of American cyclists on an adventure similar to the one he took in the 80’s.
In 1981, Kameel Nasr hopped on a bicycle in Chicago and biked his way to San Francisco and over a few years he rode around the world, bicycling in 70 countries and logging 40,000 miles.
Relying on the kindness of strangers, Nasr received food, water, directions, and accommodations as he experienced life in different cultures and countries.
Nasr’s book written during the era of the Cold War and Apartheid in South Africa is both grim and funny, and what he saw challenged many of his beliefs.
THE WORLD UP CLOSE offers readers a vicarious view across his handlebars through the Appalachians, the Anders, the Himalayas, Sinai in the summer and Morocco’s Hashish Trail.
READ the first three chapters HERE
My bicycle trip around the world was one of the most defining and revealing moments in my life. The people I met and the adventures I found myself in defined my character and prepared me for the rest of my life in a way I doubt many journeys possibly could.
While my book can explain the cast of characters and the series of occurrences of my journey, the feeling of getting out there and immersing yourself within our beautiful world is something you have to experience for yourself.
That is why I would like to send a few like-minded people on a similar trip as an Ambassador of Peace between America and the people they come into contact with.
An Ambassador of Peace is a resourceful and capable person who wishes to see the world as a citizen of the Earth and give back to its inhabitants a message of kindness and gratitude.
I want Ambassadors to have their own ideas on how they wish to promote their message and foster that desire.
The message of an Ambassador of Peace falls outside of the forms of religion or politics, and aims for a mutual cognizance and understanding between people who live in a fundamentally opposite way that the Western World.
To help fund his vision of Ambassadors of Peace, Nasr established The Curiosity Foundation and informed this reporter:
“I’m certainly not a rich person but I have lived modestly and saved my pennies, so whatever money I can afford I will put into the foundation to promote a better world. I hope in the next months to get some sponsors and work with other non-profits to build the idea. I am coming out with three books this year, and all the proceeds will go directly to the foundation.”
Nasr explained his intentions:
When I was traveling in poor countries on my bike I discovered that many people had an absolutely wrong perception of the U.S., and I found myself becoming a spokesperson for my country.
I certainly don’t think that America has a good foreign policy, but Americans are essentially good people who want good for the world.
This one on one contact is a strong force for change!
I became disillusioned writing to congressmen and signing petitions and participating in demonstrations. Politicians will only listen to people who hand them big campaign donations.
So I want to award grants to people to travel by bicycle to non-Western countries and spread a message of peace.
I want people who are interested to come up with ideas of positive activities they can do.
My idea maybe modest, but it is something I know works for it is inspired by peacemakers such as Gandhi and Martin Luther King who demonstrated that if you do something you believe: it becomes important.
I don’t want to put anyone at risk by going to a war zone, although that is obviously where an Ambassador of Peace is needed most. There are safe Middle East countries, as well as safe African and Asian countries.
I will pay for airfare plus a stipend that should cover most of the cost of traveling through the country. Knowing the language is not required but helpful.
The applicant should represent the US and be interested in promoting peace. The applicant should also be willing to document and share their experience.
U.S. Ambassador Dan Shapiro, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and former Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren. Photo by Ambassador Ron Dermer
Back to Professional Political Ambassadors:
The 19th and current Ambassador of the United States to the State of Israel, Daniel B. Shapiro asked Netanyahu to issue a statement disassociating himself from Oren’s remarks but the prime minister responded that he had no intention of publicly addressing the issue.
According to Israeli sources, Netanyahu told Shapiro that Oren’s comments did not represent the government’s position but because Oren is not a member of his party, Bibi did not think it appropriate to disavow Oren’s statements publicly.
Oren was appointed by Netanyahu in 2009 as Israel’s ambassador to Washington and served in that position until 2013.
Shapiro has served as an adviser to Barack Obama on Middle East and Jewish community issues since 2007 and assisted as a strategist and fundraiser.
Shapiro accompanied Obama on his July 2008 trip to Israel and in August 2008 and he was appointed as senior policy adviser and Jewish Outreach coordinator for Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign.
In January 2009, Shapiro was appointed senior director for the Middle East and North Africa of the U.S. National Security Council.
Shapiro attended every Israel related meeting, and met with every senior Israeli diplomat and military officer who visited Washington.
Shapiro often accompanied U.S. special envoy for Middle East Peace George J. Mitchell on his trips to the region, and played a central role in talks regarding the Middle East Peace Process and the strengthening of military cooperation between the U.S. and Israel.
A few hours after The Wall Street Journal published Oren’s article, Ambassador Shapiro phoned Netanyahu.
An Israeli source who wished to remain anonymous since he was not authorized to reveal details to the press, said that Netanyahu turned down Shapiro’s request stating he had no intention of commenting publicly on what Oren wrote.
Shapiro also made a similar request to Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, chairman of the Kulanu party of which Oren is a member.
Kahlon complied with the request and summoned Oren for a discussion for clarification and subsequently sent a letter to the U.S. Ambassador saying that Oren’s comments against Obama do not represent the stance of Kulanu or its leader.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry also rejected Oren’s assertions in the Wall Street Journal article.
State Department Spokesman John Kirby said in his daily briefing to reporters on Wednesday that Kerry read Oren’s article and believes that his claims against Obama “is absolutely inaccurate and false, and doesn’t reflect what actually happened in the past.”
Kirby also said that Kerry thinks that Oren wrote what he did as “a politician trying to promote his book,” adding that, as ambassador, Oren “had limited visibility into many of the private discussions and deliberations that he describes.”
Israel’s Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, also voiced harsh criticism over Oren’s claims stating:
“Oren’s claims are disconnected from reality.
Oren is wrong to accuse President Obama of malicious intentions toward Israel.
The president prevents harsh resolutions against Israeli from being passed at the UN, and actively tries to strengthen the security ties between the states.
Saying that the president has abandoned Israel is a disconnected remark.”
Political representatives who fuel divisiveness instead of being Ambassadors for Peace are the epitome of disconnection.
Ambassadors of Peace applicants must be curious and healthy Americans.
If YOU are interested provide a short essay, video or other presentation explaining why you want to be an Ambassador of Peace and include your contact information and social media links. Email your application to: firstname.lastname@example.org
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