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Public Statements

In Honor of Israel's 65th Independence Day

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. WAXMAN. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to pay tribute to the Jewish state of Israel on Israel's Independence Day, Yom Ha'atzmaut. I am proud to join many other colleagues in the United States Congress in honoring the strength of the US-Israel friendship and the shining example that Israel gives as America's most reliable partner in the region.

Last month, when President Obama visited Israel, Prime Minister Netanyahu gave him a special gift, a nano-chip, designed and created by Technion scientists. Set against the backdrop of a Jerusalem stone, this nano-chip recalls the advancements of Israel in the context of its ancient roots. Inscribed side by side on the nano-chip were replicas of the Declarations of Independence of the United States of America and the State of Israel.

This gift reminds us of shared values between the United States and Israel--spelled out on some of our Nations' earliest documents. In Israel, their Declaration of Independence refers to its commitment to ``uphold the full social and political equality of all its citizens, without distinction of race, creed or sex'' and a guarantee of ``full freedom of conscience, worship, education and culture.'' In the United States, centuries before, our forefathers pledged ``that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.'' These shared values demonstrate that the US Israel relationship can withstand the toughest challenges because the foundation of the relationship is built on enduring values.

In these uncertain times in the Middle East and North Africa, Israel seems surrounded by chaos. On one border, Israel must rely on Egypt to disrupt weapons and human smuggling into Gaza. To the North, Lebanon is politically fractured, with an avowed terrorist group, Hezbollah, in the government. In Syria, a post-Assad era seems near, yet opposition groups are becoming more closely aligned with those who seek Israel's destruction. In Jordan, the state is under tremendous burden to cope with refugees from other more unstable parts of the Middle East, leading to a shaky foundation for one of Israel's most important relationships. With an intransigent Palestinian leadership refusing to negotiate, a political solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict seems out of reach. Iran's illicit nuclear program remains an existential threat to Israel, haunting every decision that Israel's government makes.

Israel does not have to be reminded of these threats. Every year, on the day before Independence Day, Israelis mourn the loss of those who were killed in service to their country. The Israeli Memorial Day, Yom Hazikaron, is marked by the sound of a piercing siren that stops the entire country. Because everyone in Israel has been touched by the violence of the Arab-Israeli conflict--no matter how young or old.

And yet, despite these challenges across the region and the world, the Israeli people remain resilient and strong. Their economy is growing rapidly, they continue to have just and fair elections and their democracy thrives. On this Yom Ha'atzmaut, Israel has much to be proud of.

And the United States' commitment to Israel is unshakeable. As Israel faces difficult decisions ahead about peace and security, the United States will stand by its ally and friend.

I wish the people and government of Israel a Chag Sameach, a happy holiday on this 65th Independence Day.


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