Mr. Speaker, 64 years ago Israel achieved its long-promised independence as millions of Jews, many of them Shoah survivors, returned to their aboriginal homeland to build a democracy in the desert.
In those six and a half decades, they have built one of the most technologically, democratically, culturally and educationally advanced nations on earth.
It is the only place in the Middle East where it is safe to be a woman, gay, Christian or Baha'i.
I have prayed at the Western Wall, celebrated Shabbat in Judea and Samaria, and witnessed the sun set over Jerusalem.
With these fond memories in mind, I proudly wish my Israeli friends happy Yom Ha'atzmaut.