On April 15, I had the honor of attending the National Days of Remembrance ceremony in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda. I was joined by three of my constituents, Marlboro residents Toby Shylit Mack, Community Relations Committee chair of the Jewish Federation of Monmouth County, and her husband Bob Mack, and North Brunswick resident Lee Livingston, president of the Jewish Federation of Greater Middlesex County.
As always, it was a very moving ceremony. Sitting in the Rotunda, amidst Holocaust survivors and with liberators from the U.S. Armed Forces, I was reminded that even in 1945 — out of the ashes of the most unimaginable tragedy in human history — there was nothing pre-ordained about the founding of the State of Israel. When he was president, Dwight Eisenhower said, “Our forces saved the remnants of the Jewish people of Europe for a new life and a new hope in the reborn land of Israel.”
However, it took three years of tireless work of leaders like David Ben Gurion, Chaim Weizmann, and Golda Meir — combined with the dedicated support of Jews in the U.S. and throughout the world — to make the dream of a reborn land of Israel a reality. Even upon its founding 62 years ago, there was nothing pre-ordained about Israel’s survival.
The State of Israel was created with great courage, and it is from this courage that Israel continues to maintain its vibrant and strong democracy today. Israel’s achievements over the last 62 years — in areas ranging from education and economics to science and agriculture — far surpass what could reasonably be expected of such a young nation. During my trips to Israel, I have witnessed the ingenuity and entrepreneurship of Israelis firsthand.
The United States always should be proud that our nation was the first country to recognize officially the new nation. In doing so President Truman confidently said, “I believe it has a glorious future before it — not just another sovereign nation, but as an embodiment of the great ideals of our civilization.”
Our strong commitment to Israel’s existence and prosperity remain steadfast today. Our nations’ special relationship extends beyond friendship. It is built on the common values of equality and opportunity for all and our shared commitment to freedom, justice, and peace. Israel is more than just an ally; Israel is an inspiration.
Yet this outpost of democratic ideals in the Middle East continues to face external threats to her very existence. I have seen Israeli families terrorized by rocket attacks, and my visits have only strengthened my conviction that the United States must be unwavering in our support for the right and responsibility of Israel to protect her citizens from the very real threats. While serving in Congress, I have voted for over $35 billion in economic and military assistance for Israel, and I will continue to support such measures in the future.
Ultimately, the only way to achieve lasting peace and security for the citizens of Israel is to secure a just, permanent, and peaceful settlement between Israelis and Palestinians. I believe that the greatest service the United States can provide to Israelis is as a facilitator in negotiations among the parties. It is my deepest hope that Israeli and Palestinian leaders soon will join each other at the negotiating table, with the support of the U.S. administration, to make swift progress toward an enduring peace agreement.
On Israel’s 62nd anniversary, I believe more than ever that the future of Israel and the Middle East is one of peace, cooperation, security, and prosperity. I am pleased to join the Jewish community of New Jersey and all Americans in celebrating Israel’s national successes, her great contributions to the international community, and her continued existence as an inspiration for us all.