DENVER – If there ever was a display of how strong ties are between Israel and
the US it took place at the Jewish Federations of North America’s General
Assembly on Monday, where Israeli Ambassador to the US Dan Shapiro and US
Ambassador to Israel Michael Oren gave a joint interview.
Oh, sorry. I
meant to write Israeli Ambassador to the US Michael Oren, and US Ambassador to
Israel Dan Shapiro, of course.
But watching the two US-born Jewish
diplomats speak on stage about the Israel- Arab conflict, the Iranian threat and
their Jewish upbringing, it was easy to forget who represented which
Oren and Shapiro agreed on a wide range of issues, both saying
their greatest desires for the future of the region was to see a US-brokered
peace deal between Israel and Arab countries.
Shapiro spoke about how
studying at university in Israel had a profound effect on him and praised the
benefits of being fluent in Hebrew. Then Oren shared with the audience his love
of football and how he wept when he had to give up his US citizenship to become
Throughout the half-hour interview the two diplomats
seemed cut from the same cloth. And why wouldn’t they? They are, to varying
degrees, Jewish-American-Israelis, and they weren’t the only members of that
cohort to make an appearance that day.
Minutes before they took the stage
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu addressed the plenary in a recorded message
Netanyahu who is often dubbed Israel’s “first American-style
prime minister,” owes his excellent command of English and deep familiarity with
US culture to the time he spent in Philadelphia as a youth.
a world where Benzion Netanyahu, the prime minister’s historian father, during
one of his many sojourns in the US, decided to stay with his family there
instead of returning to Jerusalem – just like Benjamin Emmanuel, another Irgun
alumni from Israel and the father of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, did.
this bizarro world Yoni Netanyahu did not die a hero’s death in a daring Israeli
raid to free hostages in Uganda but became a successful talent agent in
Hollywood a la Ari Emmanuel of Entourage fame; Binyamin Netanyahu is the
combative mayor of Philadelphia and Rahm Emmanuel is the prime minister of
Israel addressing the GA via satellite from Jerusalem (“His English is really
good,” the Jewish-American delegates would whisper in awe.)
The Netanyahus, the
Emanuels, the Shapiros and the Orens are – again, to varying degrees – part of a
growing group of Jews who spend time in both countries and generally fit into an
emerging Jewish-American- Israeli demographic. As economic ties continue to
grow, travel becomes cheaper and the Internet makes a mockery of geography,
their numbers are likely to grow.