Remarks by Deputy FM Ayalon at the Herzliya Conference



Thank you very much. It’s really a pleasure to be here at the conference again. I want to congratulate the Herzliya Conference and the IDC again, General Rothschild, Harvey Krueger, so many good friends, Ambassador Cunningham. Good to have you all here. And of course, Mrs. Cunningham.

Let me tell you that I do not look at the relationship between Israel and the United States as a dependence but more as an interdependence; although if there was a dependence issue here, I wouldn’t want to be dependent on any other country other than the United States. Now, it is true today that with the global changes which get accelerated, no country can live alone. Globalization, I think, unites economies together and commercial interests together; technology, of course. And although we see a convergence on a global scale in the fields of economy and technology, we see that politically there is considerable fragmentation. So, certainly no country can live alone. No country can be without an orientation and without cooperating with like-minded countries.

And I believe that the natural bond between Israel and the United States is just as such; it is a natural bond based on what you mentioned, Arnon: interests and values, and common threats unfortunately. But even more than that, it’s an ethos that binds us all together for many years. And I think what makes the relationship between Israel and the United States so unique is the fact that it’s not just government-to-government relations; it is really peoples-to-peoples. It is a matter of community relations.

And you go across the United States, from coast to coast, from south to north, and you find people who are just lovers of Israel, and for many reasons. And these are not just Jewish communities; these are also Christian communities, Hispanic communities. We see it in business communities. We have to remember that the United States and Israel are not just bound by strategic or military or intelligence interests but also economic interests. So Israel is very proudly the largest market for the United States, in the entire region of the Middle East. We buy more American products and services than any other country surrounding us, which also I think has a great weight in the relationship.

So it’s a multifaceted relationship. This is why, when I look into the future, based on everything that we described, and although interests may vary or change, ideology and ethos do not. And the United States, I think, is unique in the fact that as a superpower it doesn’t just predicate its policies on interests but also on ideals; and in many ways, so does Israel.

So if I look into the future, I do not see any substitute or alternative to the American presence and influence here in the Middle East and beyond. I think anyone who believes that there are going to be any quick changes in the international arena – they’re either maybe wishful thinkers or I’m not sure that they read the picture correctly. The United States has always been able to reinvent itself, especially in times of challenges. And I would dare say that Israel too is a country which reinvents itself almost every generation or decade.

So as I read the fundamental factors in the United States, as we speak, I think they are already gearing out of economic recession. And without a doubt, and sooner than many think, they will reestablish and reassert themselves as the one economic locomotive that actually drives growth all over the world. And the same will go strategically; the same will go politically.

I think that we in Israel should be very proud that we belong to the American camp, the Western camp. If I look at the United States, and also the political system in the United States – which I think is second to none in terms of not just representability but also governability, which is another issue that we lack, and I would very much like to see our system more like an American governance system – and I compare the American governance system to anywhere else, whether it’s Europe with all the fragmentation there, and we see the challenges that they have to bring the EU together, and there are still many problems there, economic and political. If I look at China, with the asymmetry between the economic system and the political system, or I even look at Russia – I don’t think that in the foreseeable future we will see any challenge to American leadership. And I, again, want to emphasize that American leadership is not just a leadership out of power; it’s also out of an ideology which we all share.

So I think that the relation is just very, very beneficial to both, and I’m very proud to be the best friend and ally of the United States here in this region and beyond. Thank you.