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Israeli Ambassador to the US Talks on Campus

Israeli Ambassador to the U.S., Dr. Michael B. Oren, spoke to a packed house of spectators on Thursday night in 111 Wartik.  His message: Israel is America’s ultimate ally.

The New Jersey-born ambassador arrived to loud applause in the crowded lecture hall.  When he finally spoke, however, the anxious crowd quieted down and enjoyed an informative discussion.  He talked about how Israel has always been and still is the only democracy in the middle.  The former Israeli soldier mentioned all the connections between the US and Israel.  For example, Israel is the only country in the Middle East with memorials for both Martin Luther King and John F. Kennedy.  He also discussed the allegiance between the US and Israel today, and how essential this bond is for American and Israeli safety.

According to Oren, we give three billion dollars a year to Israel.  In return, we get essential intelligence from Israel, along with technology like missile defense systems, parts for military planes (every military plane in the US has Israeli parts), technology to combat explosives, and special armor and bandages.  He also mentioned the humanitarian endeavors that both nations have pursued, in places like Haiti and Turkey.

At the end of the discussion, the ambassador fielded some tough questions, but he took them all in stride.  When asked about Iran’s developing of nuclear weapons, he emphasized Israel’s right to defend itself, and how inaction against Iran is not an option.  He talked about what Iran has been capable of without these weapons, and that if they are able to acquire them, the world would be in grave danger.  The ambassador also made sure to mention how Israel believes that a two-state approach is the only solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  And when things got hostile in the room, Oren graciously calmed everybody down and encouraged a respectful conversation.

Altogether, the discussion was both civil and educational, and it showed why a strong relationship between the U.S. and Israel is essential in making sure that both nations thrive.  The event was sponsored by Penn State Hillel, Penn State College Republicans, Jewish Studies Department, Penn State College Democrats, Schreyer Honors College, Presidential Leadership Academy, and the Liberal Arts Undergraduate Council.

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