Editorial: A Vital Relationship

Last week, the Embassy of Israel hosted an Israeli Independence Day party in downtown Washington, D.C. Speakers included Amb. Michael Oren, White House advisor David Axelrod, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD), Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS) and AIPAC President Lee Rosenberg.

Given the recent tension in U.S.-Israel relations, Near East Report decided to reprint Rosenberg’s speech, which he delivered in front of hundreds of Washington guests, including senior White House officials.

Here are his remarks, as prepared for delivery:

On November 29, 1947, America’s 33rd president, Harry Truman, instructed the U.S. delegation at the United Nations to make a bold statement, a resounding and unapologetic proclamation that was heard around the globe: The United States of America supports the creation of a modern Jewish state in Palestine.

“I had faith in Israel before it was established,” Truman later said. “I believe it has a glorious future before it—not just another sovereign nation, but as an embodiment of the great ideals of our civilization.”

And so, we find ourselves here today, 62 years after David Ben-Gurion declared Israel’s independence, celebrating the birth of a miraculous nation—one which heeded President Truman’s eloquent words. Today, the State of Israel is the embodiment of those great ideals upon which American civilization was founded.

A vibrant democracy; a beacon of freedom and progressive ideals; a nation of innovation; a nation which values the principles of liberty, equality and tolerance; a nation built on the ethics of tikkun olam [betterment of the world]; and at its fundamental core, a nation which not only prays for peace, but believes in every sense of its being in peace. It is a nation that acts to make peace a reality.

Israel’s quest for peace with her neighbors is so incredibly ingrained in its national ethos that it crosses each and every spectrum of the country’s diverse society. From the right and the left; Labor, Likud and Kadima; the religious and non-religious; the young and the old; Ashkenazi and Sephardic alike. Each shares the same fundamental values. Each shares a basic innate respect for humanity. Each has worked and continues to work toward making the dream of peace with her neighbors a reality.

Israel does so despite the threat of nuclear annihilation by countries just 1,000 miles away. Israel does so despite decades of war and terrorism aimed at its very destruction. Israel does so in the face of enemies which continue to threaten her very existence.

Israel does so because of her inherent values, her principles and ethics.

That is the true essence of why the hopes and dreams of Israel have found sanctuary in the hearts and homes of my nation, the United States.

That is why we not only rejoice in the independence of the Jewish state, but in the 62 years of one of the most unique, vibrant and mutually advantageous relationships the world has ever seen: the relationship between the state of Israel and the United States of America.

It is a strategic alliance spanning six decades. But this isn’t a relationship to be measured in time, but rather in the weight of incalculable benefit to both nations.

At the United Nations, where dictators and foes alike profess their sheer hatred for America and for the ideals we represent, no other nation in the world more consistently stands shoulder to shoulder with the United States as does Israel.

Israel stood by America in spirit and in action after the tragic events of 9/11. As both our great nations fight the same scourge of terrorism and Islamic extremism, it is Israel which serves on the front lines as an outpost of American interests in a dangerous part of the world.

Israel’s military expertise and the intelligence they share with us helps the United States remain on the offense against those who seek America’s destruction in some of the darkest and most difficult places on the planet. Places so remote, so hostile that Israel’s assistance in this battle is absolutely invaluable.

On the battlefield, from Afghanistan to Iraq and beyond, it is Israeli technological advances which are saving the lives of literally thousands of brave U.S. soldiers, to each of whom we all owe an enormous debt of gratitude.

When those who question Israel’s right to exist; those who question America’s courageous sacrifices around the globe; when those same people question the value of a 62-year friendship between these stalwart allies, I say to them: Ask the family of an American serviceman or woman whose leg was spared or whose life was saved because of Israeli-made protective armor. I say, ask them about the value of the U.S.-Israel relationship.

The U.S.-Israel friendship is one that crosses thousands of miles and touches millions of lives, from Birmingham to Beersheba, St. Louis to Sderot.

Whether it is discovering new life-saving medical advances or developing state-of-the-art energy alternatives, America and Israel are working together to make our world a better place.

None of us should take lightly the adversity Israel has overcome in just 62 years—the immeasurable successes born out of defeating countless obstacles in her midst. But there are still dreams to be realized. Dreams of peace and dreams of hope, or as they say in Hebrew: Ha’tikvah.

Let me make one thing perfectly clear though. It cannot happen, it will not happen without a strong, unwavering, and unshakable bond between the United States and Israel. And so, on behalf of all pro-Israel Americans, I commit to you that we will work tirelessly to ensure that the bonds, eternally forged by President Truman 62 years ago, will be strengthened, so that when we celebrate Israel’s 63rd year of independence, we can say that the United States and Israel remain standing—as always—steadfast together.