The story of how America – a nation still so new to the world by the standards of this ancient region – rose up to become the dear friend of the people of Israel is among the finest and most hopeful in our nation’s history.
Different as our paths have been, we see the same qualities in one another. Israel and America are in many respects reflections of one another.
We both believe in democracy, in the right of every people to select their leaders and choose their nation’s course.
We both believe in the rule of law, knowing that in its absence, willful men may incline to oppress the weak.
We both believe that our rights are universal, granted not by government but by our Creator.
We both believe in free enterprise, because it is the only economic system that has lifted people from poverty, created a large and enduring middle class, and inaugurated incomparable achievements and human flourishing.
As someone who has spent most of his life in business, I am particularly impressed with Israel’s cutting edge technologies and thriving economy. We recognize yours as the “start-up nation” – and the evidence is all around us.
You have embraced economic liberty. You export technology, not tyranny or terrorism. And today, your innovators and entrepreneurs have made the desert bloom and have made for a better world. The citizens of our countries are fortunate to share in the rewards of economic freedom and in the creativity of our entrepreneurs.
What you have built here, with your own hands, is a tribute to your people, and a model for others.
Finally, we both believe in freedom of expression, because we are confident in our ideas and in the ability of men and women to think for themselves. We do not fear open debate.
If you want to hear some very sharp criticisms of Israel and its policies, you don’t have to cross any borders. All you have to do is walk down the street and into a café, where you’ll hear people reasoning, arguing, and speaking their mind. Or pick up an Israeli newspaper – you’ll find some of the toughest criticism of Israel you’ll read anywhere. Your nation, like ours, is stronger for this energetic exchange of ideas and opinions.
That is the way it is in a free society. There are many millions of people in the Middle East who would cherish the opportunity to do the same. These decent men and women desire nothing more than to live in peace and freedom and to have the opportunity to not only choose their government but to criticize it openly, without fear of repression or repercussion.
I believe that those who oppose these fundamental rights are on the wrong side of history. But history’s march can be ponderous and painfully slow. We have a duty to speed and shape history by being unapologetic ambassadors for the values we share.
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The United States and Israel have shown that we can build strong economies and strong militaries. But we must also build strong arguments that advance our values and promote peace. We must work together to change hearts and awaken minds through the power of freedom, free enterprise and human rights.
I believe that the enduring alliance between the State of Israel and the United States of America is more than a strategic alliance: it is a force for good in the world. America’s support of Israel should make every American proud.
We should not allow the inevitable complexities of modern geopolitics to obscure fundamental touchstones. No country or organization or individual should ever doubt this basic truth: A free and strong America will always stand with a free and strong Israel.
And standing by Israel does not mean with military and intelligence cooperation alone. We cannot stand silent as those who seek to undermine Israel voice their criticisms. And we certainly should not join in that criticism. Diplomatic distance in public between our nations emboldens Israel’s adversaries.
By history and by conviction, our two countries are bound together. No individual, no nation, no world organization, will pry us apart. And as long as we stay together and stand together, there is no threat we cannot overcome and very little that we cannot achieve.