Photo Credit: Amos Ben Gershom/GPO

Now disagreements among allies are only natural from time to time, even among the closest of allies. Because they’re important differences between America and Israel.

The United States of America is a large country,one of the largest. Israel is a small country, one of the smallest.

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America lives in one of the world’s safest neighborhoods. Israel lives in the world’s most dangerous neighborhood. America is the strongest power in the world. Israel is strong, but it’s much more vulnerable. American leaders worry about the security of their country. Israeli leaders worry about the survival of their country.

You know I think that encapsulates the difference. I’ve been prime minister of Israel for nine years. There’s not a single day, not one daythat I didn’t think about the survival of my country and the actions that I take to ensure that survival, not one day.

And because of these differences, America and Israel have had some serious disagreements over the course of our nearly 70-year-old friendship.

Now, it started with the beginning. In 1948, Secretary of State Marshall opposed David Ben-Gurion’s intention to declare statehood.That’s an understatement. He vehemently opposed it. But Ben-Gurion,understanding what was at stake, went ahead and declared Israel’s independence.

In 1967, as an Arab noose was tightening around Israel’s neck,the United States warned Prime Minister Levi Eshkol that if Israel acted alone, it would be alone. But Israel did act — acted alone to defend itself.

In 1981, under the leadership of Prime Minister Menachem Begin, Israel destroyed the nuclear reactor at Osirak. The United States criticized Israel and suspended arms transfers for three months. And in 2002, after the worst wave of Palestinian terror attacks in Israel’s history, Prime Minister Sharon launched Operation Defensive Shield. The United States demanded that Israel withdraw its troops immediately, but Sharon continued until the operation was completed.

There’s a reason I mention all these. I mention them to make a point. Despite occasional disagreements, the friendship between America and Israel grew stronger and stronger, decade after decade.

And our friendship will weather the current disagreement, as well, to grow even stronger in the future.And I’ll tell you why; because we share the same dreams. Because we pray and hope and aspire for that same better world; because the values that unite us are much stronger than the differences that divide usvalues like liberty, equality, justice, tolerance,compassion.

As our region descends into medieval barbarism, Israel is the one that upholds these values common to us and to you.

As Assad drops bell bombs on his own people, Israeli doctors treat his victims in our hospitals right across the fence in the Golan Heights.

As Christians in the Middle East are beheaded and their ancient communities are decimated, Israel’s Christian community is growing and thriving, the only one such community in the Middle East.

As women in the region are repressed, enslaved, and raped, women in Israel serve as chief justices, CEOs, fighter pilots, two women chief justices in a row. Well, not in a row, but in succession. That’s pretty good.

In a dark, and savage, and desperate Middle East, Israel is a beacon of humanity, of light, and of hope.

Ladies and gentlemen, Israel and the United States will continue to stand together because America and Israel are more than friends. We’re like a family. We’re practically mishpocha.

Now, disagreements in the family are always uncomfortable, but we must always remember that we are family.

Rooted in a common heritage, upholding common values, sharing a common destiny. And that’s the message I came to tell you today. Our alliance is sound. Our friendship is strong. And with your efforts it will get even stronger in the years to come.

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