Browsing Posts tagged United States

Last week at the Brookings Saban Center for Middle East Policy, Andrew Shapiro, the United States’ Assistant Secretary for Political Military Affairs spoke on the Israeli-American security cooperation. According to Shapiro, “[America's] security relationship with Israel is broader, deeper and more intense than ever before.”

Mr. Shapiro outlined the four pillars in which the United States ensures Israel’s Qualitative Military Edge (QME). “Israel’s QME is its ability to counter and defeat credible military threats from any individual state, coalition of states, or non-state actor, while sustaining minimal damages or casualties. The Obama Administration has demonstrated its commitment to Israel’s QME by not only sustaining and building upon practices established by prior administrations, but also undertaking new initiatives to make our security relationship more intimate than ever before,” said Shapiro. continue reading…

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Israel is not above the law and not all criticism of Israel is anti-Semitism. Israel’s blockade of Gaza, together with Egypt, it should be recalled (though Egypt is never condemned in this regard), is probably not the wisest policy ever implemented by Israel. After the international outcry over the flotilla to Gaza that was poorly handled by the Israelis, and with tragic consequences, it is high time this policy was reviewed.

The issue, however, is not this or some other specific Israeli policy, but Israel-bashing, or the prejudicial way in which Israel is usually treated by the international community and the world media. Prejudice is recognised by its three constituent practices: it singles out the subject; it then applies a double standard; and, of course, the subject is always guilty. Israel is indeed singled out for special treatment and the double standard is also reflected in a specific vocabulary that is applied only to Israel. continue reading…

Yeshiva University Commencement Address

May 26, 2010

By Dr. Michael B. Oren

Ambassador of Israel

As many of you know, I came to the position of ambassador after many years of writing history. As an historian, I always said, my main job was making decisions.

How is that possible, you might ask—historians are decision-makers? What are they, prime ministers? No, an historian is not the prime minister, though some of them seem to think they’d do a better job. Historians are decision-makers because they are confronted with masses of information and from those masses must select the most relevant and compelling passages. continue reading…

Israel’s Ambassador to the United States, Dr. Michael B. Oren, gave a series of uplifting and enlightening words to this year’s graduating class at Brandeis University this past Sunday. The full text of his commencement speech appears below.

Brandeis University Commencement Address

May 23, 2010

Dr. Michael B. Oren

Ambassador of Israel

People—young people especially—seem fascinated with the fact that I was a paratrooper. “Cool,” they say, “How many times did you jump?” But invariably I disappoint them. “I rarely jumped,” I say. “Most times, two large gentlemen on either side of the door pushed me out.”

You, too, now stand at the door—outside the darkness is howling, you’re far from the ground with a chute that you hope will properly open. At such anxious times, it helps to think back and remember the transformative moments in your life—we all have them—that inspired or motivated you and animated your dreams. A transformative moment, perhaps, brought to you to this open door you’re about to exit. continue reading…

Yom Ha’atzmaut- 2010, Ambassador Michael B. Oren

One freezing dawn during Israel’s War of Independence, fifty youths in their late teens and early twenties, bearing pickaxes and shovels, climbed a rocky hill in the Galilee, barely a mile from the Lebanese border. They were about to establish a kibbutz, one of the communal settlements fostered by the Zionist movement to reclaim and cultivate the hardscrabble Israeli countryside. Similar scenes were being enacted throughout the newly created state—in the Negev, on the Sharon Plain, and in the Jerusalem Hills.

But this one was different: These fifty young people were all Americans. They came from across the United States—from Los-Angeles, Brooklyn, and Chicago. More than a few were hardened combat veterans of World War II. Many had sacrificed a comfortable college experience for sunup to sundown agricultural work and long nights of guard duty.

They came because they believed. They believed in the ideals and values they had learned as Americans and that had instilled in them a sense of responsibility for Jewish freedom everywhere. “The world in which we played hopscotch and baseball and grew to maturity was dominated by Franklin Roosevelt and Adolf Hitler,” one of the youths wrote, “The one represented Protection and Welfare… and the other… a horror… in which every Jew was a potential blood offering.”
They came, like the American pioneers centuries before, to build a state and secure its frontiers. After training at an agricultural camp in New Jersey, they departed by boat and arrived in Israel to another kibbutz founded by Americans, Ein Hashofet—the Spring of the Judge, named for Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis.

Brandeis, who was also the president of the American Zionist Federation, had said that every Jew, in order to be a patriotic American, must be a Zionist. And these fifty young American Jews were, indeed, patriots, the embodiment of the principles that lay at the foundation of the U.S.-Israel alliance.

They climbed the hill and broke ground for the first of a huddle of drafty shack— their new homes. And they called their kibbutz after an ancient Jewish town that had existed on that very site. They called it Sasa. Today, sixty-two years after Sasa’s founding, the kibbutz is a thriving community with a beef herd and fruit orchards.
But Sasa has changed. Along with the agricultural work started by its founders, the kibbutz today produces technical and home care products and is host to one of Israel’s most successful plastics factories. Furthermore, in recent years, Sasa has been working closely with American military forces in Iraq and Afghanistan to provide made-in-Israel armor for U.S. vehicles. That armor which helps protect these vehicles from the hazards of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), has saved untold American lives.

And so, the children and grandchildren of Sasa’s founders uphold their commitment not only to Israel but to Israel’s historic alliance with the United States.

Israel, too, has changed—from a struggling agrarian society to a high tech powerhouse with more start-ups per capita, more patents, and scientific papers, and more Nobel Prizes per capita than any other country in the world. A nation that trails only the United States in the number of companies represented on the NASDAQ exchange.

Yet one aspect of Israel will never change and that is its values: the respect for democracy and the rule of law, the commitment to civic and personal freedom, and the yearning for peace. These are the values that we in Israel share with the people of the United States and that form the core of our unshakeable alliance.
We share the vision of a secure and recognized Jewish state of Israel living side by side with a stable and non-violent Palestinian state, and the Government of Israel is deeply committed to working with President Obama to realize that vision. Together with the United States, Israel will strive to create a Middle East—indeed, a world—free of the threats of terrorism and its extremist supporters, a world in which Israelis can live and interact peacefully with all peoples.

As one of Sasa’s founders wrote that first freezing day sixty-two years ago, “The kibbutz that we build will be dedicated not only to the renaissance of our own people, but to… the future of mankind, including our Arab neighbors.”

Sometimes, friends disagree.  By no means does that disagreement mean an end of a friendship or an increase in tension.

Photo: GPO

As Michael Oren, Israel’s Ambassador to the United States, stated in his op-ed in the New York Times on March 18, 2010, “Israel and America enjoy a deep and multi-layered friendship, but even the closest allies can sometimes disagree. Such a disagreement began last week during Vice President Joseph Biden’s visit to Israel, when a mid-level official in the Interior Ministry announced an interim planning phase in the expansion of Ramat Shlomo, a northern Jerusalem neighborhood. While this discord was unfortunate, it was not a historic low point in United States-Israel relations.”

To read Ambassador Oren’s complete op-ed, click here.

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