Published in the Diamondback on October 11, 2010
By Andrew Steinberg.
On Oct. 14, we will have the opportunity not only to educate ourselves about Israel’s special relationship with the United States but also to hear from one of the world’s premier authorities on Middle Eastern affairs – Ambassador Michael Oren.
Oren, the Israeli ambassador to the United States, will address our university community as part of his tour of college campuses across the country. And students, faculty and administrators should take heed of his message: Israel is one of America’s indispensable allies and one of its most valuable strategic assets.
For a country the size of New Jersey that has existed for only 62 years, Israel has a remarkably robust economy that is fueled by its innovative and entrepreneurial spirit. In fact, Israeli ingenuity is responsible for many of the technologies you and I enjoy and take advantage of every day. Our cell phones, the Intel chips inside our computers, AOL instant messaging software and voicemail are just a few examples of technologies that were developed by Israeli citizens; technologies that would not exist if American companies did not employ the talents of Israelis.
But even more striking than those transformative inventions are the democratic ideals Israel holds dear: Equality, tolerance and individual freedom – the same principles the framers of the U.S. Constitution embedded in our founding documents.
In a region of the world that has widely rejected Western values, Israel remains steadfast in its commitment to a society that adheres to the rule of law, protects religious freedom and speech and treats its citizens – men, women, Jewish, Christian and Muslim – equally. Israeli values are woven into the fabric of American culture, just as much as American values are woven into the fabric of Israeli culture.
The foundation of this special relationship between our two countries began 11 minutes after the establishment of the modern Jewish state on May 14, 1948, when President Harry Truman was the first to recognize Israel. With that wedded moment, the United States and Israel made an enduring and everlasting commitment to each other: to stand together in confronting our common challenges, whether they are in times of good or misfortune.
Today, that relationship is stronger than ever. In the complicated, diverse and often contentious world of politics, support for Israel in the U.S. Congress is bipartisan. And that is why the United States and Israel work together to protect our interests abroad.
Congress’s investment of about $3 billion in foreign aid to Israel each year not only spurs economic development that benefits Americans and creates jobs here, but it promotes our security interests by thwarting threats abroad. From terrorist organizations such as Hezbollah and Hamas to the radical Iranian government, cutting-edge missile defense and combat training programs defend assaults on the American and Israeli way of life from regimes that threaten to destabilize the region.
Oren’s visit is indicative of Israel’s commitment to further deepening our ties of mutual understanding and unparalleled cooperation between our nations.
Despite the turnover in political leadership in both countries over the past 60 years, our relationship has continued to thrive. But this special relationship must extend beyond the inner halls of Washington and Jerusalem. Ordinary citizens such as you and me must also take it upon ourselves to further cultivate our relationship. If lasting peace in the region is ever to be achieved, our leaders cannot be the only ones to stand with Israel – we must, too.
Andrew Steinberg is a senior criminology and criminal justice and government and politics major. He can be reached at steinberg at umdbk dot com.