Israeli Diplomat Discusses Foreign Policy

    Ayalon has been acting as Deputy Foreign Minister, one of the most senior positions in the Israeli cabinet, since March 29, 2009. As Deputy Foreign Minister, Ayalon is responsible for promoting economic, cultural and scientific ties between Israel and other nations. Before that, he served as the Israeli ambassador to the United States. 

    Ayalon discussed Israel’s goals in its relationships to neighboring countries.

    “Israel would like to have peace — a true peace — with all its neighbors,” Ayalon said. “For us, peace is not just a piece of paper. It is an act of recognition and acceptance. We have been offering that.” 

    Ayalon asked his audience members to look to the publicly available Oslo agreements of 1993 as proof. 

    “If you check the offers, you’ll see that [Israel] has come 95 percent of the way,” he said. “Palestine has not budged an inch.” 

    Palestinian scholars, such as Saree Makdisi, have argued that the Oslo Accords were heavily biased in favor of Israel to begin with. 

    Ayalon said he was optimistic about foreign relations because it was his responsibility to be as a leader. He said that it was important for Israel to focus on building other allies in the Middle East, rather than focusing on a state “that will not, in a thousand years, recognize Israel as a nation.” 

    “We should look for solutions,” he said. “We should not look at it as a zero-sum game.” 

    Tritons for Israel, a campus organization that has also arranged for other Israeli speakers to speak at UCSD, coordinated the Ayalon event. 

    TFI President Daniel Friedman said his group felt that it was necessary to sponsor speakers like Ayalon because of the divestment resolutions that have been brought before A.S. Council in recent years. The resolution asks the council to support divesting, or withdrawing money from, companies that provide war technology used by the Israeli Defense Forces in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

    Friedman said that reserving Price Center Theater, where the event was held, was the most difficult aspect of event planning. Campus security, Israeli security and representatives from the State Department took care of security, scheduling and logistics. 

    “There was a lot of coordination between the different teams involved,” Friedman said. “At UCSD, it all started four years ago when a resolution was brought to condemn Israel, and divest from a couple of Israeli companies who did business with the national military.”

    Friedman received day and time confirmation of the event on April 11 from Israeli security. From there, TFI had three-and-a-half weeks to prepare the event, and began planning immediately. TFI used its own funds to pay for all the costs, the biggest of which was security. Security cost a few thousand dollars, Friedman said. Box office and videotaping were roughly $400 each. 

    Friedman said that he had been worried about the possibility of a disruption like the one at UC Irvine in 2010, during the visit of Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren. 

    Oren also came to speak at UCSD, but there was not a similar disruption here. During Oren’s speech at Irvine, 11 students stood up, one by one, to shout statements like “propagating murder is not an expression of free speech.” 

     Ten of the later-dubbed “Irvine 11” were found guilty by a California jury for the misdemeanor of disrupting free speech. 

    “It was such a mess,” he said. “We were bracing ourselves for something like that here.” 

    Before Ayalon came to the stage, Friedman remarked that the campus had witnessed acts of intolerance in the past. “If someone harangues the speaker, then we reserve the right to move them out.”

    The event went without interruption and as planned.

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