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Obama Anti-Semitism Czar's First Target: Israeli Ambassador to the US

4:18 PM, Dec 24, 2009 • By MICHAEL GOLDFARB
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About a month and a half ago we noted that President Obama's choice to serve as the administration's "anti-Semitism czar" was Hannah Rosenthal, a J Street board member who had herself been criticized by the Anti-Defamation League. Being rebuked by the ADL (and being a J Streeter) did not bode well for Rosenthal's tenure. A month later and Rosenthal is already causing headaches for the administration. Surprise, surprise, the anti-Semitism czar's first target is none other than the Israeli Ambassador to the United States, Michael Oren (who -- sources tell me -- is Jewish). What was Oren's offense? Slighting Rosenthal's friends at J Street:

Remarks by Israel's ambassador to the United States, Michael Oren, against the liberal Jewish lobby J Street were "most unfortunate" according to Hannah Rosenthal, head of the U.S. administration's Office to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism....

Rosenthal, who also served on the board of directors of left-wing group Americans for Peace Now, said she believed Oren "would have learned a lot" if he had participated in J Street's conference.

An official with a leading Jewish organization in Washington emails to say that "this is a matter of deep concern and raises real questions about her ability to do the job. There is no precendent that I can recall for a US official -- let alone a diplomat -- to so recklessly criticize another nation's ambassador from any country, ever, like this. While it seems obvious she was not reading from a State Department speech, it begs the question -- is she expressing offical American policy? If not, one would certainly hope the administration would say so. How would one know otherwise? People are outraged and they are telling the White House that, I am sure."

Are there not enough anti-Semites to keep Rosenthal busy even for a month before she starts attacking the Jews? It's as if Melanne Verveer had attacked Ayaan Hirsi Ali during her first month on the job, or if Carol Browner had gone after the head of Greenpeace. Still, I'm less interested in whether Rosenthal was acting in an official capacity when she attacked the Israeli Ambassador, but whether she was carrying out her official duties to combat and monitor anti-Semitism while she attended the J Street conference -- and when can we expect her report.