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In Honor of Israel's 65th Independence Day

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Ms. FRANKEL of Florida. Mr. Speaker, tonight's Special Order is meant to honor Israel's 65th Independence Day. But first, today's horrible tragedy of Boston demands our attention.

Security officials continue to investigate the details of the incident. I know that all Americans join with us today, our thoughts and prayers for those affected, the victims, their families and the courageous first responders.

When acts like this occur, I find it even more important that we carry on and refuse to allow our lives to be dictated by those wishing ill. So, in many ways, it's fitting to discuss Israel tonight, a nation that knows all too well the pain of these tragedies. In fact, today Israelis commemorated Memorial Day to honor the memory of 24,000 Israeli men, women, and children who've been killed in terror attacks and wars over the past 65 years.

Immediately following Memorial Day, though, Israel transitions to Independence Day, when Israelis and Jews across the globe celebrate the modern-day revival of the State of Israel.

The abrupt transition from the sadness of Memorial Day to the joy and celebration of Independence Day embodies the Israeli narrative and serves as a poignant lesson in resilience.

Sixty-five years ago, Israel began as a modest nation of 800,000 people, fighting for its very survival. Today, Israel's population stands at over 8 million. It's a thriving liberal democracy, the homeland for Jewish people, a global economic and high-tech powerhouse and maintains the region's most powerful military force.

Sixty-five years ago, this success was not guaranteed and at times seemed almost unobtainable. Memorial Day, which just ended tonight, and Holocaust Remembrance Day, which was commemorated last week, are potent reminders of the struggles the Jewish people have faced and continue to face.

The story of the Jewish people is riddled with triumph and tragedy, and Israel's national anthem, called ``Hatikva,'' meaning ``The Hope,'' sings of the 2,000-year-old dream to be free, people in a land of our own after centuries of pogroms and inquisitions and genocide. That dream has been realized in the establishment of the State of Israel.

Now, Mr. Speaker, I'd like to introduce and bring up a very distinguished member of our Illinois delegation, Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky.


Ms. FRANKEL of Florida. Thank you very much, Mr. Schneider.

Tonight, we have had a very good, I think, discussion here because in Israel, as we speak, Israelis dressed in blue and white flood the streets for ceremonies and parties to celebrate all that Israel has accomplished. And what a lesson we have learned because even in our sadness in our hearts tonight for the people in Boston, we can learn from Israel the resilience of how to come back from tragedy.

I thank both of you, Mr. Schneider and Mr. Murphy, for reminding us that Israel is not just to be known for a place of trouble and conflict. They have developed some of the leading universities in the world, boast the highest ratio of university degrees to population. And as Mr. Murphy mentioned, it is oft been labeled ``the start-up nation'' for its remarkably advanced entrepreneurial economy and is among the world's leaders in high-tech industry and is at the forefront of research and development in the field of renewable energy sources.

And most incredibly, even as Israel struggles to protect and care for its own population, Israel regularly sends humanitarian aid, search and rescue teams, mobile hospitals, and other emergency supplies to help victims of disasters around the world.

We know that Israel has its share of difficulties, as every country does; but despite the current impasse for the peace process, the majority of Israelis continue to show support for a two-state solution.

So as we conclude tonight, I want to say that I know on a personal note, as a mother of a combat veteran, I know too well the pain and fear and lying awake at night wondering if your child will come home safe. That's the feeling that parents in Israel often have. That is the reason I know that I will work with Mr. Schneider, Mr. Engel, Ms. Schakowsky, and the rest of my colleagues here in what I am so happy to say is a bipartisan way to strengthen the United States-Israel relationship.

With that, Mr. Speaker, I just want to say happy birthday to the State of Israel.

I yield back the balance of my time.


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