DES MOINES — The Israeli ambassador to the United States visited the Iowa Legislature on Wednesday to thank Iowans for their support and recognize the “unique role Iowa has long played in determining the future of America.”
“America is Israel’s greatest ally in the world, and I know that the alliance between our two countries ultimately rests on the support of the American people,” Ron Dermer, a Florida native who has been Israel’s ambassador to this country since October 2013, told legislators. Outside of Washington, D.C., “I can think of no better place to thank the American people for their support of Israel than right here in Des Moines.”
He thanked Iowans for 70 years of moral support that began in 1948 when Israel declared its independence. He also shared appreciation for 50 years of providing Israel with economic assistance and military equipment to “defend ourselves by ourselves” against threats, and for rejecting the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement that seeks to lessen international support for Israel.
Earlier, Dermer had breakfast with Gov. Kim Reynolds, who in 2017 led a trade mission to Israel, the 26th largest destination of Iowa exports. They discussed trade and economic development, according to the governor’s office.
The 70-year U.S.-Israel alliance is stronger than ever, Dermer said, and will grow stronger in the future because of the shared interests of the United States and Israel, he said.
In the Middle East, America needs a “powerful, reliable ally ... that has never and will never ask the sons and daughters of America to defend us,” he said.
The alliance is about more than shared security interests, Dermer said. The 21st century is the century of knowledge “in which our prosperity is being driven by our ability to innovate,” he said. Silicon Valley and Israel are the centers of innovation in the world today, he said, adding that Israel will be America’s most valuable technology partner in agriculture, water, health care, autonomous vehicles and artificial intelligence.
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Although Israel is one-seventh the size on Iowa and has one-tenth of 1 percent of the world’s population, it punches above its weight by accounting for 20 percent of the private global investment in cybersecurity, Dermer said.
Major American tech companies have research and development centers in Israel to tap into “our remarkable culture of innovation,” he said.
Israel also is a “beacon of humanity and decency” in the Middle East where women often are treated as property, ancient Christian communities and other minorities have been decimated, and gay people are hanged, he said.
“As a proud son of America, I know that there is something even beyond shared interests and values that goes to the very heart of the unique alliance between our countries,” Dermer said. “I know that America and Israel are not merely countries. We are causes.
“America has been long been what Lincoln called the last best hope on Earth,” he said.
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