On Israel's 50th Birthday, Let's Salute Jewish Heritage, and the Heritage of Democracy
by Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani
On Thursday, New York City joined the rest of the world in honoring the 50th Anniversary of the State of Israel.
Throughout our history, Jewish immigrants from around the world have settled in New York and contributed immeasurably to the life and spirit of the City. Today we're home to the largest Jewish population of any city outside Israel - from first generation immigrants to third, fourth, and fifth generation New Yorkers. Jews have most frequently come here fleeing religious persecution, to build better lives for themselves and their families.
That's why our City is the perfect place to pay tribute to the 50th Birthday of the state of Israel. Throughout its history, New York City and Israel have had a very special relationship. The people of New York have extended their support to the state of Israel; and Israel, in turn, has given us its support. We have been true friends to one another, especially when we have needed each other the most, in times of crisis.
What binds us together is the fact that both our societies respect the fundamental principles of democracy and the rule of law. And there's something else we share: a defining legacy of immigration. Like New York City, Israel is a land that draws people from all over the world seeking to build better lives for themselves and future generations. Israel, like New York, is a place where for millions of people, dreams and reality intersect.
Through its complicated history of struggle and sacrifice, the principles on which Israel was built have ultimately prevailed. The nation has remained true to its founding ideals, thriving culturally and economically beyond all expectations. And over the last ten years, Israel and its neighbors have made major strides toward peace and understanding. Despite the obstacles that remain, the world now believes that a true, lasting peace is within reach.
Having already accomplished so much, it's hard to believe that just 100 years ago Israel was only a dream. Theodor Herzl, the father of Zionism, imagined the birth of Israel over a century ago. He said, "Whatever we attempt there for our own benefit will redound mightily and beneficially to the good of all mankind." I think that today his words have become a reality.