Rabbi Ovadiah Tank, Chief Rabbi of the World Jewish Confederation in the United States, attended the Yom Haatzmaut (Independence of Israel) in Washington DC together with Ilan Sztulman, former Chief of the Foreign Affairs Office of the Israeli Embassy In the USA and current Ambassador of Israel in Argentina.
Ambassador Dermer’s speech at the Yom Ha’atzmaut event tonight in Washington:
On behalf of Defense Attaché Mickey Edelstein, Deputy Ambassador Reuven Azar and our colleagues at the Embassy of Israel, my wife Rhoda and I want to thank all of you for joining us here to celebrate Israel’s 69th Independence Day.
I want to welcome the many Cabinet Secretaries and senior Trump administration officials, the over 50 Senators and Members of Congress and the nearly 60 Ambassadors who are here tonight.
I want to especially welcome our guest speaker, National Security Advisor, General H.R. McMaster.
General, it took me only one meeting with you to recognize that you are a first rate strategic thinker who will be invaluable in helping President Trump navigate a very complex and dangerous world.
But no less important was what I heard about you from a number of your colleagues, even from those who don’t agree with you on everything.
They all described you the same way: “H.R. McMaster,” they said, “is a man of moral courage.”
In my book, that is the highest praise for a public servant and why I am truly honored that you are here with us tonight.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Israel’s Independence Day is a time to celebrate our achievements;
We celebrate the achievements of a young country that in only 69 years has seen its population increase tenfold, its economy grow more than 100-fold and its exports expand nearly 2,000-fold.
We celebrate the achievements of an innovative country that in less than seven decades has become nothing less than a global technological power – in agriculture, water, cyber, autonomous vehicles and a host of other areas.
We celebrate the achievements of a dynamic country whose engineers have launched satellites into space, whose scientists, scholars and statesmen have won a dozen Nobel Prizes and whose doctors have advanced breakthroughs in treating Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s, Alzheimers, and other diseases.
We celebrate the achievements of a tiny country that has overcome decades of war and terrorism, reached lasting peace agreements with Egypt and Jordan, and that remains as committed as ever to achieving peace with all our neighbors, including the Palestinians.
And we celebrate the achievements of a free country that despite threats faced by no other democracy on earth cherishes its open and pluralistic society, inculcates an egalitarian ethos in its people, and protects the rights of women, minorities, gays and all its citizens.
The values of a free society are tested under fire. And despite all the critics and the naysayers who confuse the perfect with the good, I am proud to say that Israel has passed that test with flying colors.
Israel’s Independence Day is also a time to be grateful.
Grateful to the visionary founders of modern Zionism who lit a path to statehood that defied the laws of history.
Grateful to the remarkable Israeli leaders who have successfully navigated the state through the most dangerous currents.
Grateful to the courageous Israeli soldiers who have defended that state with the spirit of the Maccabees of old.
And grateful to the exceptional Israeli people, who with their grit, genius, and resolve have created a modern miracle.
Independence Day is also a time when Jews everywhere can be grateful to have been blessed to live in a time when there is a sovereign Jewish state – a state that has provided the Jewish people with a voice, a refuge and, most important, the power to defend themselves.
100 generations of Jews dreamed of restoring Jewish sovereignty in our homeland and rebuilding our ancient capital, Jerusalem.
Three generations have had the privilege of seeing that dream come true.
Ladies and gentlemen,
In Washington D.C., Israel’s Independence Day is also an opportunity for my country to express its profound gratitude to the Government of the United States and to the people of the United States for the tremendous support you provide Israel year after year, decade after decade.
From President Truman to President Trump, with strong support on both sides of the aisle in Congress and with the overwhelming support of the American people, America has been Israel’s most steadfast friend.
Generous military assistance and joint missile defense programs have helped Israel build an army capable of defending itself by itself against any threat.
America’s first ever free-trade agreement helped Israel develop its economy, while loan guarantees have helped Israel weather many economic storms.
And U.S. diplomatic support has often protected Israel in a world where moral clarity has unfortunately been the exception, not the rule.
Here, I want to particularly thank President Trump, UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, and the entire Trump administration for its strong and unequivocal stand against efforts to delegitimize Israel in the international arena.
I believe that with this unequivocal support, it will finally be possible to crack the automatic anti-Israel majorities at the UN that are the product of a bygone era.
This is just one of the many areas where Israel looks forward to working closely with the Trump administration.
Whether it is thwarting the dangers of the nuclear deal with Iran, confronting Iran’s aggression in the region, finding a lasting resolution to the carnage in Syria or promoting reconciliation with our Arab neighbors, Israel is confident that working together we can forge policies that will enhance security, stability, prosperity and peace in our region.
Israel is also confident that in the years ahead, we will dramatically upgrade the US-Israel alliance in many areas – from security to intelligence to cyber – which will ensure that it becomes even stronger in the future.
You know, today is the first day of Israel’s 70th year of Independence.
And as I was thinking about the meaning of that number, I couldn’t help but think of a famous story from the Talmud of a man walking on a road who sees an older man planting a carob tree.
“How long does it take for the tree to bear fruit?” the man asks him,” “Seventy years,” the older man replies.
“Are you certain you will live another seventy years?”
“No,” the older man answers, “but the fully grown carob trees that I found in the world were planted by my forefathers, so I am planting these for my children.”
Ladies and Gentlemen,
As Israel begins its 70th year of Independence, let us celebrate our achievements, be thankful for the miracle of Israel and express our gratitude for Israel’s remarkable alliance with the United States.
Let us thank the many people – including many who are in this room – who helped ensure that alliance was rooted in solid ground and who painstakingly nurtured it over the decades so that we can all enjoy its fruits today.
And on this Independence Day, as we begin our 70th year, let we who are entrusted with this alliance pledge to work to ensure that it rests on even more solid ground,
so that its roots can grow deeper, so that its branches can reach higher than ever before,
so that our children and their children will enjoy its fruits for decades to come.