Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman attended the US Independence Day celebration at the International Convention Center in Jerusalem Tuesday evening.
"It's 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," Ambassador Friedman said in his address. "Welcome to history."
"It's a day on which all Americans celebrate our many blessings as a nation and we 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.
He turned to Prime Minister Netanyahu: "Last year, Mr. Prime Minister, we were about halfway there, halfway between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. You spoke beautifully and you gave us one suggestion. You said, 'next year in Jerusalem.' And here we are."
"In two days we celebrate 243rd anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, a brilliant document that fundamentally changed the way 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 come from G-d and not from 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 extending throughout the entire world.
The ambassador asked: "How did our founding fathers know which rights G-d considered to be unalienable?"
"I'm sure that our founding fathers read the teachings of John Locke, Thomas Hobbes, 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 come from 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 Isiah, the word of G-d emerged right here from the city of 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 the new Jerusalem. It is to understand why the United States opened a consulate in Jerusalem in 1844, 104 years before the creation of the State of Israel, at which time the new consul-general planted an American flag at the Jaffa Gate and declared that the United States thereby extended its protection to the Jews of Jerusalem," he said.
"It's 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's to understand why, 1995, the United States Senate, and the United States House of Representatives passed, by overwhelming majorities, the Jerusalem Embassy Act recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and mandating the transfer of our embassy to that city.
"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 Fourth of July, or other important points of historical reference. But America's spiritual beginning, its bedrock, foundational principles, its understanding of the G-d-given rights of every human being, it all occurred in the words of the Prophet Isiah, from the word of the Lord, from Jerusalem."