Mr. RUPPERSBERGER. Mr. Speaker, this week, we joined people in the State of Israel and her many friends around the world in celebrating Yom Ha'atzmaut--the independence from British mandatory rule and the establishment of the State of Israel.
The United States and Israel have shared a special bond since the establishment of the Jewish State in 1948. The United States, under the leadership of then-President Truman, was the first country to recognize Israel, only 11 minutes after its founding. Today, the United States and Israel continue to share a commitment to democracy, the rule of law, the freedoms of religion and speech, as well as respect for human rights. The United States and Israel also share a desire for peace and stability.
Our countries cooperate closely on intelligence issues, partnering on the development of new technology to promote the security and safety of our citizens. Bilateral ties in trade were codified in the 1985 U.S-Israel Free Trade Agreement. Today, the American and Israeli governments and businesses are working together to develop and promote new energy solutions.
The Jewish people paid a heavy price for security and independence. Nearly 23,000 men and women have been killed defending Israel since the first Jewish settlers left the secure walls of Jerusalem in 1860. Since the end of the War of Independence, nearly 2,500 people have been killed by terror attacks in Israel, including 14 in the past year.
Today, despite disturbing political instability in the region, Israel stands strong.
She is among the safest countries in the world, her economy is sound, life expectancy there is among the highest in the world, and more Israelis earn advanced degrees than most other nations. And, at a time when our own country is challenged by polarizing politics, an astounding 88 percent of Israelis say they are proud to be Israeli.
I want to extend my best wishes to the people of Israel as we celebrate Israel's extraordinary friendship and honor her achievements over the past 64 years.