After Michael Oren discussed his Zionist biography, we got to tougher issues, such as whether the very premise of Israel's existence is flawed:
Jeffrey Goldberg: It seems that it's safer to live as a Jew in America than it is to live as a Jew in Israel, but the basic Zionist urge was to create a place where Jews can live in physical safety. And yet today we see, and I don't think you could deny this, that it is dangerous to be Jewish in the state of Israel, and it is not dangerous to be Jewish in the U.S. How do you square that and do you think that Israel has failed in that particular mission to date?
Michael Oren: I think Israel hasn't achieved that goal entirely yet. But let's put it this way: it was one of the goals of Zionism. One of the goals of Zionism was to secure a place where Jews could live out their lives free of threat, but I think the overarching goal of Zionism was to create an environment where Jews could take responsibility for themselves as Jews. And it's the only place in the world where you do take responsibility for yourself as a Jew. You take responsibility for your lamp post and your sewage system and your education systems and your wars and your successes and your failures -- we take responsibilities for them as Jews, and I think that is the great accomplishment of the Zionist dream -- [it] was to transform the Jews from passive actors in their history to active agents in their history, to transform Jews from the role of victims, which is a very fundamental transformation for ourselves, people who take responsibility for all of their actions -- look at how many commissions we have after all of our wars to examine how well we did in the war and how and why we failed in those wars if we failed.