Washington, D.C. – Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi delivered remarks at an event celebrating the 65th anniversary of Israel’s independence. Below are the Leader’s remarks:
“Thank you very much. Mr. Ambassador [Michael Oren], thank you for the invitation to once again join everyone tonight in this magnificent celebration. It wasn’t even a whole week ago that we were together for the [Holocaust] Day of Remembrance in the Rotunda of the Capitol of the United States; and once again he inspired us there – your beautiful words about Israel and the role Americans played in freeing the camps. It was such a remarkable, such a remarkable thing, and as you were speaking about the Day of Remembrance and the Day of Independence just being a day apart in Israel, our Day of Remembrance just a few days ago, it was one in which you told us very clearly the history, the provenance of the idea of establishing a state of Israel and that it far predated by many decades the Holocaust. And so that Israel sprang from an idea about Israel having a Jewish state in Palestine long before the Holocaust. Nonetheless, the Day of Remembrance, again, served us, as the word describes, ‘remembrance,’ of the reminder of what the threats are.
“Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers, it’s an honor to be here with you. Denis McDonough, the Chief of Staff to the President of the United States and a real champion for Israel. Here we have Eliot Engel, the Ranking Member on the Foreign Affairs Committee, and Jerry Nadler, a champion for Israel, but there are many, many Members of Congress here, I’m told too numerous to mention. But I will mention Nita Lowey, who’s a Ranking Member on the Appropriations Committee, and Jan Schakowsky whom I salute.
“As we join together in great celebration tonight, as the Ambassador said so eloquently, our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Boston, the families of all of the victims of this senseless tragedy. Words, of course, are inadequate to console the loved ones of those lost at the Boston Marathon. But we will do what we can to care for them. We will pray for the recovery of the injured, console who lost loved ones of course. We will offer our support, as Americans, as Members of Congress, all of us. And we will ensure that justice is done.
“Over the course of Israel’s history, events like this have been all too common in the great cities of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, in the streets of Haifa and other places. Yet, despite these challenges, the world remains struck by the extraordinary resilience of the Israeli people, by the perseverance of Israel’s families, and by the persistence of Israel’s communities. Every time I travel to Israel, and that has been frequently, whether it’s for special occasions like the 50th anniversary, or the 60th birthday, or many other occasions – I am struck by the ability of the Jewish state to carry on, to look to the future even while confronting the threats and challenges of the present. Every time, I am struck by the beauty and the emotion of the solemn transition, as the Ambassador spoke about, the solemn transition from Israel’s Remembrance Day to its Independence Day; from a moment to recall fallen heroes and victims of terror, to a moment to celebrate all Israel has achieved. Each time, and I’m sure I speak for any visitor there, I am struck by Israel’s ability to survive and to thrive in the face of enemies dedicated to Israel’s destruction; to stand ready to extend a hand of peace when possible and to defend its borders when necessary.
“This capacity to survive, this faith in the future, is what sustains Israel every day. It is what has made Israel a quote: ‘light unto the nations.’ It’s what makes Israel today, not 65 years old, but 65 years young. Because, for 65 years, Israel has been defined by innovation and entrepreneurship. Israel has led the world in technology and scientific discussion, in research and medical advances. Israel, as the Ambassador has said, has produced Nobel Prize winners, and has among – some of the world’s greatest doctors, the latest developments in environmental protection, clean energy, water conservation, the list goes on and on. That’s why I was so proud to welcome the Governor, Stanley Fischer, of the Bank of Israel and other members – the Defense Attache – other members, distinguished members of the delegation from Israel here. So that we can pay our respects directly to you.
“Israel has made deserts bloom, cities thrive, created a dynamic economy, advanced the rights of citizens, and preserved its very rich culture. As President Truman declared in recognizing Israel just 11 minutes, a newborn baby, just 11 minutes after its independence and its establishment, he said: ‘I believe it has a glorious future…not just as another sovereign nation, but as an embodiment of the great ideals of our civilization.’ I love that statement and I also love the courage it took for President Truman to make that statement at the time. For 65 years, as Israel has lived up to that prediction of President Truman’s. it has embodied those ideals. It has built a glorious future founded on the core values of Jewish history.
“Israel today stands as the realization of a basic idea – our President Obama expressed it on his visit to Israel and Jerusalem last month when he said: ‘the idea that people deserve to be free in a land of their own.’ That idea comes to life every day in Israel and that is why I’ve always maintained that one of the greatest political achievements of the 20th century was the establishment of the state of Israel. Happy anniversary for 65 years of progress and leadership for Israel, for the world, for the future. God bless Israel. God bless America. Thank you and shalom."