AMBASSADORS & DIPLOMACY

July 16, 2019 at 1:00 pm

Britain’s ambassador to the U.S., Kim Darroch, resigned this month after saying President Trump & his administration were “inept” and “clumsy.” Today, former U.S. Ambassador to Denmark, John L. Loeb Jr. takes us on the tightrope walk that is international affairs.

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By his own admission Ambassador John lobe Junior was born with as he says two silver spoons in his mouth. Being a descendant from two of America's Wall Street dynasties the Loeb and Lehman families easy to understand why as a child he counted Shirley Temple as a playmate as a young man courted President Lyndon Johnson's daughter had memorable encounters with Winston Churchill and Jackie Kennedy just to name a few. In his memoir called Reflections memories and confessions he describes how his privileged upbringing spurred a lifetime commitment to public service and fighting for religious freedom. You were closely alongside President Ronald Reagan as the U.S. ambassador to Denmark and New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller as the chairman of the State Council of environmental advisers. But it's impressive resumé doesn't stop there is also a businessman art collector and a winemaker still going strong at 88 years old Ambassador Loeb has many more stories to tell and we're delighted to have him visiting us here at Metro focus today. It's so nice to see you. Let me start off with something.

I think it's it is fascinating. People who had or born certainly at a level of privilege as you are. Early on felt that it was important for them to commit to public service. With your generation that the notion of of their family is done well you need now to contribute back was so important.

I think that was something that many people in my world and who would you say were privilege and knowing we were right. Was that it was important to give back to contribute somehow to the country to the community. It's certainly worth.

Let me talk some more about what you do. I mentioned that has been a significant portion of your life fighting for religious freedom and protections for religious freedom. And you talked in the book about your first experience with it with anti-Semitism. Yes. Tell me about that why that was so significant.

Well I had an enormous impact on me. I was brought up really without a religion. I mean I knew I was Jewish my next door neighbors were Catholic. This was a little school called the Harvey school it's in Westchester. And for the first few weeks I was there and a big guy came around and he links looked down at me and he said you're a Jew aren't you low. And I said yes and that was like You know my name is John. And older a little other kids looked at me as I was the devil incarnate. This is an era when actually anti-Semitism was getting worse and worse strangely under Hitler. And when. Hotchkiss when they showed the first two pictures a Saturday night movies of the death camp. It's hard to believe but the whole school cheered. And these boys came up to me and said well we don't like Hitler but at least he's killed the Jews. I was stunned by it. And actually I've spent a fair amount of my life trying to promote. If you will religious freedom. This country was based on the fact that no one had to have a religion that was unique America was the first country that said come to us. You don't have to have a religion or you can have any religion. And we will accept you as an enemy. You're a good citizen. Then I discovered I was. I have a grandmother actually called Adeline Moses who can trace her family back to 60 97 all Jewish. I got very interested in all this and then. I discovered that the Torah the synagogue in Newport of all places. By the way they don't. Some of them still don't know up there that there is a synagogue in Newport. There's a family called the Torah. Who were the actually. Children. Of the first real rabbi that appeared in America. He was the one who instituted the building of the synagogue. Now what I was asked do is to create a visitors center which is totally non-religious right. Told the story of religious freedom which really begins not with Thomas Jefferson but with Roger Williams and the sixteen hundreds. Long before it's and we know he doesn't want to settle Rhode Island seeking religious freedom I somehow whether I was talked into this and I built a business center what I think is the first visitors center before a rigid religious institution.

By the way it's a marvelous place. By the way it's a marvelous place. I've seen pictures I haven't been there pictures. Ambassador it's just a pleasure to meet you.

It's a marvelous book just a fascinating look at all of the things you've done in the notion of service to the country and how important it is. Pleasure meeting. Thanks so much for spending some time. I appreciate it. Great. Well.

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by James and Merryl Tisch, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Irene Schwartz, Rosalind P. Walter, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Janet Prindle Seidler, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

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