The Middle East is imploding all around us. The forces of militant Islam are rushing to fill the void. Yet in this turbulent and violent Middle East, Israel stands out as a beacon of freedom and human rights, an island of democracy in a sea of despotism.
Following is Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's address at US Independence Day celebrations at US Ambassador to Israel Daniel Shapiro's residence in Herzliya:
Sara and I are delighted to be with all of you. This is a great day because on the 4th of July, all Israelis unite with our American brothers and sisters. It's our celebration too. That's because the history of our two countries is remarkably intertwined. The Founding Fathers of America were inspired by the Bible, and specifically by the Book of the Exodus, by the dream of building freedom in a new Promised Land. And as you stand in the Chamber of the American Congress, you see right across you the image of one man - Moses, with a quote from the Bible.
And since the establishment of the United States, that's two and a half centuries, the vision of justice and the vision of peace espoused by the Prophets of Israel served as a guiding light for Americans from Thomas Jefferson to Abraham Lincoln to Martin Luther King to many others seeking to form a more perfect union.
But just as our heritage inspired America, America inspired us. If you read the Founding Fathers of Zionism, you see how powerful and inspirational the American Revolution was - the ideas of freedom and liberty. They reverberated everywhere for people seeking liberty, but they reverberated powerfully for the Zionist movement and the ideas of reestablishing our land, our promise, our justice here.
Zionism has always been about freedom, about national freedom, the Jewish people returning to our ancestral homeland to rebuild our one and only sovereign state. But it's also been about personal freedom. We built the State of Israel on the same democratic foundations upon which the United States was built.
And what a remarkable foundation it's proven to be.
The Middle East is plagued by tyranny. Majorities are oppressed. Minorities are persecuted. Women are subjugated. Gays are lynched. The press, if there is any, is muzzled.
Yet in this turbulent and violent Middle East, Israel stands out as a beacon of freedom and human rights, with unfailing constancy, an island of democracy in a sea of despotism.
The Middle East is imploding all around us. States that have existed for a century are disintegrating. The forces of militant Islam are rushing to fill the void, the militant Sunnis led by ISIS, the militant Shiites led by Iran.
Iran conducts a campaign of aggression in the region and terrorism worldwide. It seeks to build nuclear weapons to advance its mission to export the Islamic revolution, so they say, around the globe. For the mullahs that rule Tehran, Israel is the small Satan and America is the great Satan. They say, Dan, we are you and you are us. And you know something? On this, they are absolutely right. We stand with America. America stands with us.
Iran's quest for a nuclear weapon, Iran's worldwide campaign of terrorism and aggression must be stopped. So too must the campaign of ISIS, whose savagery is now sweeping the Middle East. We ourselves have felt the reverberations of Islamist terrorism in the last few days. Today I visited the hospital of those Israelis wounded - remarkable heroism shown by a young woman and by a young man. And we grieve for the loss of a brilliant, brilliant young Malachi. We suffer those pains and we see that that terrorism is not only exploding within our own country. We see ISIS at the gates - across the border in the Golan, across the border in Egypt. We send our condolences to the government and people of Egypt for the fallen Egyptians slain by ISIS terror.
We must stand up to all the forces of militant Islam, those led by Iran, those led by ISIS. We should not strengthen one or the other. We should weaken both of them. And as we do this, we will continue our quest for a durable and secure peace with the Palestinians, mindful that we must not let militant Islam gain another foothold.
The values we share are at the heart of the unbreakable bond between the United States and Israel. Dan, we are family. Let me translate. We are mishpucha [family]. And we are partners.
I take this opportunity to once again express my appreciation to President Obama, the United States Congress and the people of America. I want to thank them for their continual support of the State of Israel. Across the length and breadth of the United States, Americans of all stripes stand with the Jewish state. I've said it before but I'll say it again tonight: Israel has no better friend than America and America has no better friend than Israel.
On this day that celebrates freedom both of us know this: Neither one of us can take life and liberty and the pursuit of happiness for granted. Americans and Israelis have paid a high price to protect these sacred principles. We are stronger when we face our great challenges together.
And today the bells of freedom ring across America. They ring loud in Israel too. May we always cherish our freedom. May we always cherish our friendship.
On behalf of all Israelis, I wish all Americans a happy 4th of July. God bless Israel and God bless the United States of America.
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