oren - Natasha Mozgovaya - May 13 2011
Ambassador to the United States Michael Oren. Photo by Natasha Mozgovaya
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“Early Sunday evening, on May 1, the phone rang at the Israeli residence. The White House wanted to speak with the ambassador. I took the call and heard the following words: 'We got him.' I did not have to ask who 'him' was. Intrinsically, I knew. So did my wife, Sally, who was sitting nearby.

"My response was confined to one word. 'Alive?' I asked. The reply was also one word: 'No.' To which I answered with a phrase readily understandable in only two of the world’s capitals: Washington and Jerusalem. I said, 'Mazal tov.'"

That’s the story the Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren told tonight to the guests of the event celebrating the 63 Independence Day of Israel.

“The brilliant operation against Osama bin Laden was widely praised in Israel. As a people, we did not have to ask who “him” was. We shared the pain that Americans had suffered at bin Laden’s hands. We, too, have known that pain. And America’s success in ridding the world of bin Laden’s scourge was our victory as well.

Elsewhere, in the Middle East, however, the reaction was radically different. The Iranian regime claimed that America had exploited bin Laden as a pretext for invading Afghanistan, and had eliminated him in order to prevent him from leaking valuable intelligence.

Hamas, in Gaza, condemned the operation as “another example of America’s desire to spill Arab blood,” and hailed bin Laden as a “holy warrior” and a “martyr.”

The contrast between Israel’s response to the operation and that of many of our neighbors underscores the essence of the U.S.-Israeli alliance. 'Your enemies are our enemies. Those who seek to kill Americans, also threaten us. Your security is our security, just as our security is yours. This is as true today as it was at any time during Israel’s 63-year existence.'

Oren compared between the Entebbe raid and the operation in Abbotabad: “Entebbe revolutionized the very concept of special forces operations in armies throughout the world, and especially in the U.S. military.

"The raid is studied at American service academies and command colleges. It deeply influenced the thinking of American commanders such as Vice Admiral William McRaven.

A veteran Navy Seal and head of Joint Special Operations command, Vice Admiral McRaven is a long-time friend of Israel who visited our country many times and worked closely with our special forces. His classic book, Case Studies in Special Operations Warfare, contains an entire chapter on the Entebbe Raid.

Vice Admiral Bill McRaven commanded the bin Laden operation. Just as American officers once studied Entebbe, now Israeli officers will study the bin Laden operation. We learn from one another and inspire one another”.

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi also spoke at the event, demonstrating to the audience the dog tags of the Israeli kidnapped soldiers she keeps with her. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano and Illinois Senator Mark Kirk also attended the event.

Jacob Lew, Director of the United States Office of Management and Budget, told the audience that when he was a boy, he didn’t understand why people call Israel, which is 8 years older than him, 'young'. “Now I am 55 and I understand”, he smiled.