Former Israeli ambassador stresses US leadership

Danny Ayalon, former Israeli ambassador to the U.S., spoke on the relationship between the U.S. and Israel and its significance in today’s world at an address at NSU on March 28.

The former ambassador opened his address by saying that education is important in the U.S. because the world needs U.S. leadership.

“We need American leadership, because I don’t see any substitute to that,” he said. “It’s important to the interests of the United States, but also to the interests of the globe…without American leadership we will not have the world we have been having [up to] now.”

Ayalon served as a member of the Israeli parliament, minister of foreign affairs of the State of Israel from 2009-2013 and ambassador to the U.S. from 2002-2006. During his address, he spoke about issues in the Middle East, including terrorism, fragmentation within countries and oil. He called U.S. attempts to create democracies in other countries lofty but impractical, and in some cases dangerous.

“Superpowers are not very good at nation-building,” he said, citing U.S. involvement in Iraq. “Nation-building has to be homegrown – it has to be done through a natural process.”

At a press conference before his address, Ayalon said that it’s too early to judge whether President Trump will be more supportive of Israel than President Obama, saying that it takes six months to a year for a new administration to become comfortable in its new position and formulate its policies.

Ayalon said that to stop terrorism, the U.S., Israel and other world powers need to pool their resources and deny sanctuary to terrorists. He said that the U.S. and Israel are natural allies because they are both democracies and have similar interests, and that the bond between the U.S. and Israel is very strong.

“Unfortunately, we have Islamic terror groups all over the world,” he said. “I know it’s not politically correct, and I certainly do not blame Islam for that, but the fact that all terrorists today are Muslims is an issue that we have to take very, very seriously.”

One student asked Ayalon to explain his claim that all terrorists are Muslims. Ayalon said that he made his statement as a call to Islamic leaders to condemn and ostracize terrorists.

“Empirically, it’s true,” he said. “So I apologize if it didn’t sound appealing, but I stand by it from a factual point of view.”

To close his talk, Ayalon said that it’s important to look past emergency situations, explaining that using technology to improve the world’s food security, water availability, and energy costs will be vital to solving complex issues.

“Many of the solutions depend on technology,” he said. “Technology is going to be the most valuable currency for the foreseeable future.”

NSU’s Farquhar Honors College hosted Ayalon’s March 28 lecture as part of its Distinguished Speaker Series.

Caption: “Superpowers are not very good at nation-building,” former Israeli ambassador Danny Ayalon said at an address at NSU on March 28.

Credit: G. Ducanis

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