On Thursday March 29, Michael B. Oren, distinguished scholar and Israel Ambassador to the United States delivered an address, titled “Foreign Policy: Israel the Ultimate Ally” (http://clarke.dickinson.edu/michael-b-oren/), at at the Clarke Forum For Contemporary Issues at Dickinson College’s Rubendall Recital Hall, to an overflowing crowd of students, faculty, and reception guests. The address was broadcast in two additional auditoriums with a total attendance of 400 students, faculty and other Dickinson community members. Prior to the lecture, a reception in honor of Ambassador Oren was held at the President’s House, Dickinson College. The event was planned in part as a kickoff for the new Central Pennsylvania Chapter of SPME. It was also co-sponsored by the Clarke Forum For Contemporary Issues and Jewish Federation of Greater Harrisburg.
Representing SPME were Professor Judith S. Jacobson,Columbia University, Co-Founder and Vice President of SPME, and Professor Anat Alon Beck, Dickinson College, co-chair of SPME Central PA, as well as Elizabeth Gaither, Director of Administrative Services, SPME. Dr. Edward S. Beck, SPME President Emeritus and Co-Chair of SPME Central PA who, with Harry Pohlman of the Clarke Center and Prof. Anat Alon Beck made arrangements for this presentation, was unable to attend. Ambassador Oren’s presentation can be found at http://clarke.dickinson.edu/michael-b-oren/
At the reception, Dickinson College President William G. Durden spoke warmly about Dickinson’s Judaic Studies program, study abroad in Israel, and other academic collaborations with Israel. He then introduced the Ambassador, who gave a brief but inspiring presentation about Israel’s efforts to achieve sustainability. He reported that Israel is the world’s leader in wastewater recycling. Israel recycles 83% of its water. “So if you stay at a hotel in Jerusalem and pour yourself a glass of tap water, you may have a sense of deja vu.” The #2 recycler, he said, is Spain, which recycles 19% of its water. Israel is also a world leader in desalination.
Another example of sustainability is electrically powered cars. Ambassador Oren noted that Better Place (http://www.betterplace.com/global-progress-israel), an Israeli startup, recently delivered its first batch of cars with rechargeable batteries to the Israeli market. He had tested one of these cars, he said, and they do not just put-put along; they zoom like rockets. For taxis and other heavy users, Better Place provides batteries that can be replaced instead of being recharged in less time than it takes to fill a gas tank. Japan, Denmark, and other countries are also using Better Place cars.
He emphasized through historical references taken from one of his books, Faith and fantasy: America in the Middle East, 1776 to the Present, the strong bond between Israel and the founding fathers and mothers of the United States, as well as Presidents Lincoln, Wilson and Truman, all of whom wrote about the need for the Jewish people to return to their homeland.
Ambassador Oren went on to describe the strong connection between the two countries based on democracy, economics, technology and strategic cooperation. He gave explicit examples of Israeli technologies that have saved lives of US soldiers in the battlefield.
During the question period, one of the audience members asked why Israel had withdrawn from the UN Human Rights Council. Ambassador Oren explained that the name of the Human Rights Council was an oxymoron, that the Council largely ignores the vast abuses of human rights in countries such as Iran, Sudan, and Libya, and devotes the overwhelming majority of its resolutions to condemnation of Israel. He then asked, “Would you stay in an organization like that?”