Commemorating Israel's 65th Anniversary

Floor Speech

Date: March 7, 2013
Location: Washington, DC
Issues: Foreign Affairs

Ms. STABENOW. Mr. President, this year marks 65 years since the State of Israel was born, and I wish to speak today about the importance of that occasion and the celebration that will take place in communities all across the world.

Our country has a deep friendship with Israel, dating back to just 11 minutes after its creation on May 14, 1948, when President Harry Truman became one of the first world leaders to recognize Israel's independence.

Our two nations have always been friends and allies in our struggle to make the world a safer place. I am proud of our long friendship and our shared values.

When Israel was founded, the Jewish people finally had a home. The new State provided not only a refuge to Jews who survived the unprecedented horrors of the Holocaust, but also a place to begin anew. Even in such a tough and unforgiving climate, the Jewish people knew they could build a country that could help change the world.

The Walk the Land 65 project is the perfect way to celebrate Israel's anniversary. The theme of this year's walk is to celebrate life, and people all across the world will join together and walk through their communities by honoring Israel's gifts to the world, especially those regarding life: creating life, sustaining life, saving life, preserving life, enhancing life, protecting life, improving life, cherishing life, nurturing life and beautifying life.

As a collaboration between the Afikim Foundation, the World Zionist Organization and the Israel Ministry of Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs, Walk the Land 65 is showing the world just how important Israel's contributions to the world really are.

I am pleased to see walks taking place across my home State of Michigan: in Flint, Grand Rapids and Metro Detroit.

Every religious, cultural and ethnic group across the State is an important thread in Michigan's rich cultural fabric. We in Michigan are proud of our Jewish communities and their contributions to our State.

One important attribute that the people of Israel share with the people of the United States is our system of values. Both countries are lands of freedom and democracy. While these two countries were formed at very different times, they both uphold and honor critical freedoms--freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of association, freedom of the press, and government by the consent of the governed.

This foundation has led to a country that truly celebrates life and works to improve life across the world. Israel began in a desert, but today, it is a fountain of culture, innovation and industry.

This didn't happen overnight, though. David Ben-Gurion and the founders of Israel had a great vision for their country. They built Israel from scratch, turning the arid land into fertile farms and thriving cities.

Israel is a leader in innovation for creating, sustaining, preserving and saving lives through its work in agriculture and health care. It is also enhancing life through its innovation in technology, alternative energy and so many other fields.

Today, Israel is among the top three countries in the world in terms of patents per capita, and number one in terms of startup businesses per capita. Israel is also a leader in clean energy research and development, and is helping to create the power the world needs.

The Israeli people are leaders in celebrating life, as evidenced by their humanitarian works and their pioneering medical advances that will save and improve people's lives, and they are making a real difference throughout the world.

Israel continues to serve as a shining model of democratic values, and an important presence in the region; it shows the world that democracy can survive--and--thrive anywhere people wish to be free.

I am proud of our friendship, and I am proud to help celebrate Israel's 65th Anniversary with the Walk the Land 65 Project.

Congratulations to the people Israel and everyone involved in this wonderful project.