This year, 5774, affords me the opportunity to reflect on my four years of service as Israel's ambassador to the United States.
These years have been rife with unforeseen turbulence throughout the Middle East and political and economic challenges in the United States. Rarely in Israel's history have we faced such a wide array of monumental threats at the same time. These dangers confronted us across our once quiet borders with Egypt and with Syria, and sowed instability in Jordan, our valued eastern neighbor. In Gaza and in Lebanon, terrorists committed to Israel's destruction continued to amass thousands of rockets aimed at our homes. The Palestinian Authority refused to negotiate with us, and instead sought reconciliation with Hamas terrorists and UN recognition of statehood without making peace with Israel.
Throughout, the Iranian nuclear program rapidly advanced—in spite of punishing international sanctions—while the Ayatollahs repeatedly pledged to wipe us of the map.
America, meanwhile, strove to climb out of a painful recession and to grapple with deepening political rifts. The public, traumatized by a decade of war, recoiled from further military entanglements in the Middle East.
Israel and the United States together worked to meet these challenges. Together, we worked to reinforce Israel's borders and safeguard its skies. Together, we cooperated in supporting Jordan and in bringing the Palestinians back to negotiations. And together, we are determined to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear capability, keeping all options on the table. Israel continues to enjoy broad bipartisan support in America, and to receive an unprecedented level of American defense aid, for which we are deeply grateful.
The last four years, also gave rise to a different and potentially more alarming challenge—to Jewish peoplehood. Dismayingly, I have witnessed how the ideal of Jewish peoplehood—of klal Yisraoel—could be weakened by ideological and theological schisms. In meetings with Jewish leaders across the political spectrum and with Reform, Conservative, Orthodox, and Haredi Rabbis, my diplomatic colleagues and I have sought to listen to different perspectives and bridge, where possible, differences. Much progress has been achieved, but many barriers remain. Israel, the nation-state of the Jewish people, is predicated on Jewish peoplehood, and our unity as a people is our most precious legacy.
Peoplehood has been the key to our survival and the source of our creativity and strength. This has been outstandingly demonstrated in the last four years. Israel has been accepted as a member of the Organization of Economic Cooperation Development, acknowledging Israel's economy as one of the world's most dynamic. Three out of six of our major universities have been listed among the global top 100, and Israel remains number one in technological innovation and startups. Israelis won two Nobel Prizes –we have now won more of them than Olympic medals—and we've discovered gas deposits that will make us not only energy self-sufficient but energy exporters. We are exporting wine to France, caviar and snow-making machines to Russia, and gluten-free pasta to Italy. This summer was the busiest tourism season in Israel's history.
We survive and we thrive because of Jewish peoplehood. It is also integral the bonds with Israel's greatest ally, the United States. Enriching Jewish peoplehood today is our moral and historic imperative. This Rosh Hashanah, as I conclude my service as ambassador, I urge us all to rally around the idea of Jewish peoplehood and unite to realize our common vision. May this year bring security, joy, and fulfillment, to Jews everywhere, and peace to you and your families.
Photo Credit: Anne Mandelbaum