Israeli Ambassador Challenges View of Palestine Conflict in Tulsa Visit

Feb 18, 2014

Ambassador Ido Aharoni visited the University of Tulsa Monday. In this 2011 photo, he's pictured at an engagement in New Jersey.
Credit Tim Larsen / New Jersey Governor's Office

An Israeli ambassador to the United States challenged a widely held view of the country's conflict with Palestine at a lecture in Tulsa.

Ido Aharoni calls the difference between the nations' conflict and the world's view of it "wildly unreasonable," adding the conflict affects maybe 2 percent of his daily routine while in Israel. 

He said the idea that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the source of unrest in the Middle East is wrong.

"It's not that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not an important conflict to resolve, but we have, as you say here in America, much bigger fish to fry right now," Aharoni said.

He said unrest in other countries in the region is more pressing right now.

Aharoni said an often overlooked side to the conflict is its effect on Israel's economy.

"We have so many things to offer the world, yet the only thing the world knows about us is that we're engaged in a conflict with our neighbors," Aharoni said. "That's a sad statement that we need to fix if we want to thrive."

Aharoni said the country is underperforming in the tourism sector and should attract five times the current number of travelers. He also estimated foreign business investment is just 5 percent of what it could be.