Special ‘thank you’ to Michael Oren

Israeli ambassador to the United States Michael Oren hosted an iftar on Thursday for Muslim American leaders in an attempt to bridge what he sees as a growing divide between Israel and America’s Muslim community. Says Oren, “Israel is a country with a large and respected Muslim minority. I just got back from Jerusalem two days ago and it’s all decorated for Ramadan. They’re an important part of our society.”

I assume he expects to be applauded for being one of the first international politicians to quell Islamophobia once and for all. That said, we must give him due credit.

Thank you, Mr. Oren, for inviting Muslims to a dinner in America as your way of combating anti-Muslim sentiment in Israel.

Thank you, Mr. Oren, for seeing through the smoke and realizing that the illegal military occupation of Palestinian land is really just the result of a misunderstanding between American Muslims and Israeli Jews.

Thank you, Mr. Oren, for studying the Qur’an in graduate school and being qualified enough to dictate how Muslims should respond to Israel’s actions.

Thank you, Mr. Oren, for publicly commending the Muslim faith as a great religion while pursuing a lawsuit indicting up to eleven Muslim college students in California with federal offenses.

Thank you, Mr. Oren, for blatantly ignoring Israel’s discriminatory laws and policies directed at Arabs and, especially, Muslims.

Thank you, Mr. Oren, for allowing Muslims to enter your Washington, D.C. home while helping prevent other Muslims from entering Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.

Thank you, Mr. Oren, for concerning yourself with Israel’s relations with American Muslims rather than with Israel’s much more oppressive relations with Arabs inside, outside, and along its borders.

Thank you, Mr. Oren, for proudly displaying your Israeli citizenship while some of your guests have friends and family currently facing the effects of forced displacement.

Thank you, Mr. Oren, for recently going on a nationwide speaking tour to improve Israel’s public image by justifying the invasion of Gaza that left 1,400 people dead.

Thank you, Mr. Oren, for showing us that you truly appreciate the fairness of the law even though, for example, you defended illegal settlements and outposts at a talk at Northwestern University one year ago.

Thank you, Mr. Oren, for shifting focus from Israel’s systematic abuse of Arabs to the eating habits of Muslims living in America.

Thank you, Mr. Oren, for once again bypassing the Palestinians, marginalizing their voices the way you typically do when you encourage the United States to veto anything in Palestine’s favor, and transforming Israel’s occupation into one that can magically disappear over a few dainty dinners and iftars.

Thank you, Mr. Oren, for going out of your way to make the claim that Israel’s Muslim community is largely respected when in fact, Muslims are regularly kept from accessing their holy sites in occupied Jerusalem and are regularly subject to random searches if they look too “Arab”.

Thank you, Mr. Oren, for all that you’ve done for the Palestinian people living under occupation, living as refugees, or living abroad with no chance of returning home under the current state of affairs your government fully supports.

Although Oren’s iftar comes as a surprise to Israel-backers who tie Israel’s woes to the “Islamism” they hear about on Fox News, Oren isn’t doing anything unique, fresh, or even minutely helpful. In the same way the Israeli government capitalized on the Eilat attacks to strike Gaza with missiles and move attention away from the steadily-declining tent protests, Oren is using this iftar to frame the occupation as nothing more than a religious misunderstanding, one that has nothing to do with the international law or basic human rights that the Israeli government continues to trample over. We will not be deceived.

Sami Kishawi


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