The United States is a country founded upon the principles of religious freedom, civil liberties and democratic government. The State of Israel is founded upon the same fundamental beliefs, values which they declared and enshrined into their national consciousness on the very day in 1948 on which their State was born - even as their neighbors launched an unprovoked war that same day with the unabashed and declared intention to wipe that new born country off the face of the Earth and to drive every one of its men, women and children "into the sea."
Like our country, Israel has had to fight for its independence. Unlike our country or any other democratic country, however, Israel has been forced to maintain and live by its democratic ideals in the face of an unyielding threat to its very existence, a threat that has never dissipated, that has never withered, despite countless Israeli entreaties for peace.
Israel has suffered harsh wars, boycotts, unceasing propaganda and perpetual terror from a region in which the concepts of civil liberties and democracy are as forbidden as they are taken for granted in our country. Yet Israel has managed to vigorously sustain an elected Parliament, in which all viewpoints and minorities are represented and all voices are given a platform, a pugnacious Judiciary which, even in war, holds the Israeli government and Defense Forces accountable to the highest moral principles, and an elected Cabinet and Prime Minister, who are accountable solely to the people.
It is no wonder that Israel has grown into the most important ally of the US in the Middle East. Our alliance with Israel grows directly from our choice, from our desire to further not merely our own national security, but our common interests and our common values with Israel. The undeniable fact is that Israel is the only democratic country in the Middle East.
And Israel is not only a democratic ally: it is also our most reliable ally. Israel has voted with the United States at the UN more often than any other country, more often, even, than our allies in NATO and most certainly more often than all other countries in the Middle East with whom we maintain friendly relations.