Now More Than Ever: Ensuring Security and Achieving Peace in a Changing Middle East

Thursday, April 7, 2011
12:00 PM - 1:30 PM
Philippines Conference Room
  • Ami Ayalon

With democratic revolutions spreading throughout the region, and as US, European and NATO forces enter the conflict in Libya, the transatlantic community shares concern over events in the greater Middle East. The Europe Center presents a timely seminar by Ami Ayalon, former director of the Shin Bet and commander of the Israeli Navy, about the interdependence of Israeli security and Palestinian statehood and the urgent necessity of achieving a two-state solution to ensure democratic self-determination for both peoples.

Ami Ayalon is a former Member of the Israeli Knesset, Commander of the Israeli Navy, and director of the Shin Bet, Israel's internal security service. In 2003, Ayalon launched, together with former PLO representative Sari Nusseibeh, a peace initiative called “The National Census" to collect signatures of millions of Israelis and Palestinians in support of a two-state solution.

About the Speaker

Admiral Ami Ayalon was born in pre-state Israel in 1945, growing up on Kibbutz Maagan. He served in the Israeli Navy for 30 years. During his service he was decorated with the Medal of Valor, Israel's highest award and the Medal of Honor for carrying out a long list of operations without casualties as the commander of the elite Shayetet 13 Naval commando unit. From 1992-1996 he served as Chief of the Israeli Navy.

Upon retiring from the Navy, Admiral Ayalon was appointed director of the Shin Bet (Israel’s General Security Service). He is credited with rehabilitating the service, which had been hard-hit by its failure to prevent the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.

In 2003, Admiral Ayalon founded the People’s Voice, a grassroots movement that, together with Palestinian professor Sari Nusseibeh, formulated a set of principles for a permanent agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. To date, over 400,000 people from both sides have signed the Ayalon-Nusseibeh Statement of Principles.

In 2005, Admiral Ayalon was elected to a senior Labor Party seat in the Knesset, and served on the several committees, including as Chair of the Knesset Subcommittee on National Emergency Readiness. In 2007, Admiral Ayalon joined Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's cabinet where he served until 2009.

Having formally retired from politics, Admiral Ayalon serves as Chairman of the Executive Committee of Haifa University, leading research on terror, ethics and international law. He is chair of AKIM, a charity for people with intellectual disabilities. He holds two degrees from Bar-Ilan University: a BA in Economics and Political Science and an MA in law, in addition to an MA in Public Administration from Harvard University. He is a graduate of the Naval War College in Newport Rhode Island.