Jerusalem, July 4 – Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sent July the Fourth greetings to America, praising its role as the world’s most vibrant democracy and saying there is hope that democracy will spread beyond Israel in the Middle East.
“Even though I can't be there in person, I wanted to express my appreciation to President Obama and to the American people as you celebrate Independence Day,” Netanyahu said. A combat veteran himself from an elite commando unit, Netanyahu made a special note of appreciation to the members of the United States Armed Forces.
“And as the leader of one of the world's most vibrant democracies – you know how vibrant – I appreciate all the great sacrifices that America has made in order to advance liberty and democracy throughout the world,” Netanyahu said.
He paid tribute to the American ideals of the peoples’ right to elect their own leaders and that the power of government be checked so that individual rights are protected, he said quoting American founding father Thomas Jefferson.
Referring to the political upheaval currently shaking the Arab world, Netanyahu hoped the American democratic ideals would spread beyond Israel to the rest of the region.
“Real democracy is not merely about holding popular elections. It is about what happens between elections. It means ensuring that no one is above the law. It means protecting free speech, freedom of the press, freedom of religion. It means upholding the rights of women, minorities, gays, children, everyone,” he said.
“By ensuring both popular sovereignty and individual rights, the nations of the region can join America and Israel in being genuine democracies,” he said, adding that despite skepticism “in the long term I believe there's reason for hope.”
“Ultimately, people throughout the Middle East will enjoy the rights that we in free societies too often take for granted.”
“July 4th is a time to not take freedom for granted. It's a time to be thankful that history granted America the power to match its ideals with action,” Netanyahu said. “It's a time for free people everywhere to send their best wishes to the United States of America, to the country that has done so much to make the world a safer, freer and more peaceful place.”