Good Evening. Tammy and I warmly welcome you to Jerusalem, the capital of the State of Israel.It’s my pleasure to welcome PM Netanyahu and Sara Netanyahu President Reuven Rivlin (who honored us earlier this evening with his attendance)
Deputy President of the Supreme Court, The Honorable Hanan Melcer
Special Envoy to Combat Anti-Semitism, Elan Carr
NSC Member, Dr. Victoria Coates
Members of Congress
Senator Lindsey Graham
Senator Chris Van Hollen
Rep Kathleen Rice (D-NY)
Rep Cheri Bustos (D-IL)
Rep Jenniffer Gonzalez-Colon (R-PR
Rep Ted Deutch (D-FL)
Rep Henry Cuellar (D-TX)
Rep Randy Weber (R-TX)
Rep Darren Soto (D-FL)
Rep Scott Peters (D-CA)
Rep Gus Bilirakis (R-FL)
Rep Aumua Amata Coleman Radewagen
All Ambassadors, Members of Knesset, Ministers and Mayors
Tammy and I warmly welcome you to Jerusalem, the capital of the State of Israel. We welcome you to this historic gathering – the first time in the history of the State of Israel that our Embassy has held its Independence Day Event in the City of Jerusalem.
It is a day on which all Americans celebrate our many blessings as a nation and remember those, including the men and women of our armed forces, who sacrificed everything so that we could become the greatest force for good the world has ever seen.
Last year, Mr. Prime Minister, you famously said “next year in Jerusalem!” And here we are . . .
Historic events like these don’t happen on their own. So I’d like to begin by thanking our incredible staff of volunteers – members of our embassy family who have sacrificed their time and invested enormous energy in making tonight the biggest and the best 4th of July Party ever held in the State of Israel. We are indebted to you for your service and so grateful for the incredible job you have done.
I’d also like to thank our sponsors – those who have been with us for many years and others who have recently come on board. So much has changed since my very first Independence Day celebration two years ago. In 2017, we had 25% of the sponsorship we have tonight and an even smaller share of this year’s budget. But as the interest and excitement with this event began to grow, especially after President Trump moved our embassy to Jerusalem, our sponsors grew with us and kept pace with the challenge. And just look around today at what has truly become one of the preeminent 4th of July parties in the entire world! Thank you!
In two days we celebrate the 243rd anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. That brilliant document fundamentally changed the way in which we think about the relationship between a government and its citizens.
The Declaration of Independence provided that every human being was created equal and endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, including life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
The notion that essential human rights came from God and not man was a revolutionary concept. It made those rights permanent, undeniable and immune from the vagaries of politics, not only in the United States but around the world.
How did our founding fathers know which rights God considered unalienable? Remember, the Declaration of Independence doesn’t just say these rights are important – it says these rights are divine.
Well, I’m sure many of our founding fathers read John Locke and Thomas Hobbs and other great thinkers. But I’m even more certain that they read the Bible. Especially because all of the unalienable rights identified in the Declaration of Independence find their home in the Bible itself.
Many believe – and certainly our founding fathers believed – that the word of our creator is expressed in the Bible, and, as recognized by the prophet Isaiah, that word emerged from the city of Jerusalem. As Isaiah said, “out of Zion shall go forth the law and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.”
To understand this connection between the birth of our nation and the City of Jerusalem is to understand all that has transpired since between Israel and the United States.
It is to understand why the Pilgrims risked their lives in the 17th century to reach a new world and establish what many of them referred to as a “new Jerusalem.”
It is to understand why the United States opened a consulate in Jerusalem in 1844, 104 years before the State of Israel came into existence, at which time the new consul general planted an American flag at the Jaffa Gate and declared that the United States of America thereby “extended its protection to the Jews of Jerusalem.”
It is to understand why Mark Twain and Ulysses Grant visited Jerusalem and President Lincoln told his wife Mary, upon the conclusion of the Civil War, that he’d like to take some time off and travel to Jerusalem.
It is to understand why the United States, under the leadership of President Harry Truman, was the first to recognize the reborn State of Israel in 1948.
It is to understand why in 1995 the United States Senate, and the United States House of Representatives, by overwhelming majorities, passed the Jerusalem Embassy Act recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and mandating the transfer of our embassy to that city.
It is to understand why just two years ago, in 2017, the United States Senate, by a vote of 90-0, reaffirmed its commitment to the Jerusalem Embassy Act.
And it is to understand why, today, the United States Embassy proudly stands in the City of Jerusalem.
America’s physical beginnings may be traced back to Plymouth Rock, Valley Forge, the Continental Congress, the Constitutional Convention, the 4th of July or other important points of historical reference.
But America’s spiritual beginning, its bedrock foundational principles, its understanding of the God-given rights of every human being – that beginning occurred with, in the words of Isaiah, “the word of the Lord from Jerusalem,”
That’s why it is so incredibly special to celebrate with you this evening the signing of the Declaration of Independence for the first time from the city of Jerusalem — the original shining city on the hill which has had such a profound effect on our republic.
Thank you all again for joining us in this special, historic celebration of American independence.
May God bless you, may God bless our great friend and ally Israel, including all of its people, Jews, Muslims or Christians, Israeli or Palestinian, and may God bless the United States of America.