Israeli Ambassador Highlights Alliances
by Michelle Simmons
July 1, 2012
Ambassador Michael Oren (left) warmly greets Ward Davenny, professor of art & art history, during a reception at The Clarke Forum. Oren chose Dickinson as the venue for his March 29 lecture because of his longtime friendship with Davenny.
Michael Oren, Israel’s ambassador to the United States, served as an officer in the Israeli Defense Forces during the first Lebanon War, was an emissary to Jewish refuseniks in the former Soviet Union and acted as an advisor to Israel’s delegation to the United Nations. He regularly faces both houses of Congress and TheNew York Times editorial board.
But one of his tougher assignments was appearing on Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show, as he noted during his March 29 presentation at Dickinson. “I was glad to get out of there with my skin still on,” he said with a chuckle.
His longtime friendship with Ward Davenny, professor of art & art history, led Oren to choose Dickinson as the venue for his lecture, Foreign Policy: Israel the Ultimate Ally. The talk was co-sponsored by The Clarke Forum, the Scholars for Peace in the Middle East-Central Pennsylvania Chapter and the Jewish Federation of Greater Harrisburg.
Speaking to a full house in the Rubendall Recital Hall, Oren cited the United States’ historical commitment to a Jewish homeland, including President Harry Truman’s decision to recognize the newly established state of Israel in 1948 despite the counsel of his military and political advisors.
“Democracy creates a tremendous bond between Israel and the U.S.,” Oren noted, adding that his country is “the only functioning and functional democracy in the Middle East.”
“The fact that Israel shares America’s core values—representative government, gender and sexual equality and equality of race and ethnicities—creates another strata in the U.S.-Israel relationship,” he continued. “Israel is democracy on steroids.”
Emerging alliances include commercial relationships between the two countries, he added. “Israeli companies are outsourcing to the United States. Tens of thousands of Americans are employed by Israeli companies, some right here in Pennsylvania,” he said, citing pharmaceutical manufacturing giant Teva Pharmaceuticals.
During the question-and-answer period, Oren acknowledged areas of disagreement, such as the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and how best to respond to Iran’s nuclear threat, but noted that they were tactical rather than strategic. “We don’t agree on everything, but we’re moving forward,” he said.
Ultimately, Israel is “pro-American without hesitation. There is not a country in the world that enjoys a deeper and more multifaceted relationship with the U.S. … Israel is not just an ally but America’s ultimate ally."