Israeli Ambassador Visits Dickinson
Ambassador Michael Oren calls Israel “democracy on steroids.”
by Christine Baksi
March 29, 2012
President William G. Durden ’71 (right) talks with Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren prior to his lecture, Foreign Policy: Israel the Ultimate Ally.
Before a packed house of more than 200 members of the Dickinson and greater-Carlisle communities in the Rubendall Recital Hall of the Weiss Center for the Arts, Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren presented an hour-long lecture titled Foreign Policy: Israel the Ultimate Ally. The event was sponsored by The Clarke Forum for Contemporary Issues, the Scholars for Peace in the Middle East-Central Pennsylvania Chapter and the Jewish Federation of Greater Harrisburg, Pa.
Oren, who came to Dickinson through a connection with art professor Ward Davenny, presented a light-hearted glimpse at “a day in the life” of an ambassador before moving on to more pressing topics such as Israeli-Palestinian relations and Israel’s position in the Middle East—topics which dominated the Q-and-A portion of his presentation. A typical day, he says, begins with meetings at the White House, Pentagon and Capitol Hill and concludes with numerous national media interviews.
Staying true to the title of his talk, Oren peppered the audience with common bonds between the U.S. and Israel, including similar social and political ideologies, spiritual pride and shared belief in democracy.
“The fact that Israel shares America’s core values—representative government, gender and sexual equality and equality of race and ethnicities create another strata in the U.S.-Israel relationship,” he says. “Israel is democracy on steroids.”
Oren laid out emerging areas that reinforce bonds between Israel and the U.S., and what he calls Israel’s “burgeoning commercial relationship with the U.S.”
“Israeli companies are outsourcing to the United States. Tens of thousands of Americans are employed by Israeli companies, some right here in Pennsylvania,” says Oren, citing pharmaceutical manufacturing giant Teva Pharmaceuticals.
Oren also touted Israel’s role as a pioneer in business technology. “All of your computers, all of your cell phones are operating on Israeli concepts or actual Israeli products,” he says, adding, “Israel is the third-most represented country on the NASDAQ exchange after the United States and China.”
Affectionately referring to the country he represents as “tiny Israel,” Oren touted the country’s contributions to sophisticated military weaponry and ballistic systems such as the Iron Dome, an anti-missile system developed in Israel and considered to be one of the most advanced in the world.
Oren touched briefly on Iran’s nuclear program, saying, “Containment is not an option.”
Oren closed by saying Israel is “pro-American without hesitation” and added, “I can only assure you that today there is not a country in the world that enjoys a deeper and more multifaceted relationship with the United States than Israel.”