Ambassador discusses US, Israel future

Despite being interrupted at his presentation last year at UC Irvine, Israeli Ambassador to the United States Michael Oren visited USC Thursday to discuss his stance on U.S.-Israel relations.

Foreign relations · Ambassador Michael Oren emphasized the importance of Israel to the U.S. to students in the Annenberg Auditorium.  - Joseph Chen | Daily Trojan

Foreign relations · Ambassador Michael Oren emphasized the importance of Israel to the U.S. to students in the Annenberg Auditorium. – Joseph Chen | Daily Trojan

The event was hosted by the USC Center on Public Diplomacy and moderated by the Dean of the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism Ernest Wilson III. More than 200 people attended the event.

In his presentation, Oren told many personal stories to illustrate the “multifaceted and deep relationship” between the U.S. and Israel.

Oren emphasized the strong spiritual, democratic, strategic and commercial similarities that tie the two countries together. He said support for Israel was at a 20-year high, by referencing how the U.S. House voted to put sanctions on Iran in November.

In addition, he compared the alliance of the U.S. and Israel to that of Roosevelt and Churchill, saying that great alliances don’t always agree but that “the true litmus test is how they approach their differences.”

“Israel does recognize Washington D.C. as the capital of the United States,” Oren said. Focusing on this relationship, he ended his speech by emphasizing that “Israel is not only America’s ally — Israel is America’s ultimate ally.”

Oren believes the U.S. has a responsibility in moving beyond diplomacy to other parts of the world to provide humanitarian relief. He cited Israel’s support for several recent disasters, such as the earthquakes in Haiti and Japan and Hurricane Sandy, to further this idea.

Trying to make light of the sensitive issues surrounding the politics, Wilson asked about Iran. of Iran.

Oren gave a short response when talking about Israel’s relationship with Iran. He mentioned Iran’s swift advancement of its uranium program and said when it comes to a nuclear Iran, Israel has the most at stake.

“Iran presents a national threat … we have a right to defend ourselves,” said Oren, who also clarified that Israel does not want to exercise that right and will continue to support sanctions against Iran.

The ambassador said the “Iranian nuclear threat is paramount,” and that Israel will continue the escalated sanctions in light of the Iranian conflict.

He also addressed the Palestinian conflict. Oren talked about the desire to establish a compromise between the Palestinian and Israeli-Jewish communities by offering a two-state solution.

“We recognize that there is a Palestinian people but we need them to recognize the Jewish people,” Oren said.

Oren remained confident of future relationships between Israel and the United States will remain strong.

“As a historian, I had enough trouble predicting the past,” Oren joked, before stressing that he knows Israel will continue to be a pro-American, stable country.

Julie Cooperman a sophomore majoring in biologoical sciences said she was surprised by Oren’s positive outlook on Israel’s future.

“It surprised me how confident he was that Israel would be everything it is today in 20 years,” Cooperman said. “As a Jewish-American, I don’t feel that confident. It was more comforting to hear him be so hopeful and surprising that he was so optimistic.”

Revital Batoniashvili, an Israel Fellow at USC Hillel, said this event was successful because students remained respectful.

“The USC campus was very peaceful, and I really appreciate how calm the lecture was and how everyone was respectful,” Batoniashvili said. “It was something we should admire and is one of the great things about USC. It really showed the university’s support of freedom of speech. The environment tonight is what made it happen.”


Christina Schoellkopf contributed to this report.

9 replies
  1. zman
    zman says:

    john train.. iran never said they want to annihilate anyone, they said israel should cease to exist as a nation state. the rest of your nonsense isn’t even worth responding to.

    JOHN TRAIN says:

    When Iran’s top leaders threatened to annihilate another nation (people) they have forfeited any claim that their nuclear development is for “peaceful purposes”.This would be like defending the right of Adam Lanza, after he announces he plans to slaughter hundreds of kindergarten children, to acquire an automatic firearm and an extensive supply of ammunition.

    Israel’s nuclear weapons have brought stability to the neighborhood. Israel has never threatened an attack with nuclear weapons on a neighbor.

    The Arab League and all the leading Arab figures for decades claimed that the Arabs in Palestine were part of a greater Arab nation. Arab peoplehood was a recent development put forward by Yasser Arafat.

    The better Golda Meier quote is: when the Arabs love their children as much as we love our children then we will have peace.

    Iranian weapons killed more of my fellow soldiers in Iraq then did all other weapons together. When Iran stops supporting international terrorism, maybe then we can trust them with a “peaceful” nuclear program.

    • William Buttrey
      William Buttrey says:

      I have no idea why my comment would be in moderation.

      Check with Defence for Children International – Palestinian Section on children killed in Operation Cast Lead (352).

    • William Buttrey
      William Buttrey says:

      I think it’s more along the lines of you’re being oblivious to the obvious. You are right about one thing. Israel certainly grew, but at whose expense?

      And to declare that other nations are unevolved, and in fact ‘do not’ (as in a perpetual state of being), just seems the height of arrogance. In essence Israel is a belligerant undeclared nuclear weapons nation shreiking in alarm at a nation that has negotiated its nuclear program in conjunction with the international community.

      Do you *not* see even a bit of a problem with pointing a finger at another nation for not being sufficiently open about their nuclear program and that they might be hiding something by a nation whose nuclear *weapons* are the worst kept secret in the community of nations?

  3. William Buttrey
    William Buttrey says:

    I was unable to attend but wonder if he addressed this —

    “Rarely mentioned is that as a 1968 signer of the NPT, Iran has an ‘inalienable right’ under Section IV (1) to enrich uranium for peaceful purposes. Demands that Iran abide by international rules smack of an unreasonable double-standard when strategic allies like Pakistan, India and Israel, all armed with nuclear weapons have refused to join and continue to function outside the NPT.”

    ~ Renee Parsons. – Fmr. lobbyist for Friends of the Earth in Washington, D.C. focusing on nuclear energy issues

    As far as his statement –

    “We recognize that there is a Palestinian people but we need them to recognize the Jewish people,”

    How does this square with Golda Meir’s statement? —

    “There is no such thing as a Palestinian people… It is not as if we came and threw them out and took their country. They didn’t exist.” — The Sunday Times, 15 June, 1969.

    I’m confused.

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