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Israelis join Americans to celebrate Independence Day and Jerusalem embassy

Applause erupted through the crowd as U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman welcomed celebrants by noting, “For the first time in its history, the United States of America is proud and grateful to receive happy birthday wishes from its embassy in Jerusalem, the capital of the State of Israel.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during an American Independence Day celebration on July 3, 2018. Photo by Miriam Alster/Flash90
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during an American Independence Day celebration on July 3, 2018. Photo by Miriam Alster/Flash90

Independence Day festivities marking America’s 242nd Independence Day took place in Israel on Tuesday night, hosted by U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman at Airport City in Tel Aviv.

Among the hundreds in attendance at the event were some of Israel’s most notable dignitaries, including Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Knesset member Michael Oren, Knesset member Betzalel Smotrich, Israeli Chief of Police Roni Alsheich, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat and others, including representatives from major Israeli organizations and towns.

Many notable Americans, including several members of Congress, also joined the Israeli July 4 party. American mega-philanthropist and casino magnate Sheldon Adelson and wife, Dr. Miriam Adelson, were also in attendance.

Applause erupted through the crowd as Friedman welcomed celebrants by noting, “For the first time in its 242-year history, the United States of America is proud and grateful to receive happy birthday wishes from its embassy in Jerusalem, the capital of the State of Israel.”

In his remarks, Friedman praised U.S. President Donald Trump for signing into law the Taylor Force Act in March, a law passed in both houses of Congress that withholds U.S. financial support for the Palestinian Authority as long as the body pays salaries to convicted terrorists. Taylor Force, a U.S. army veteran and West Point graduate, was murdered by a terrorist in Tel Aviv in 2016 while visiting Israel with a group of graduate students.

Friedman paid respect to the father of the law’s namesake, Stuart Force, who was in attendance at the Tel Aviv event, having arrived in Israel to show his support for an Israeli law passed on Monday that will subtract the amount of salaries paid to terrorists from tax monies collected for the P.A. and transfer the funds to organizations that provide services for victims of Arab terrorism.

Netanyahu congratulated the United States on its anniversary and praised Trump for moving the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, as well as for defending Israel at the United Nations and withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal. Netanyahu has been a vocal advocate for harsh sanctions on Iran and has warned that Iran is a sponsor of global terror.

In his speech, he urged European leaders to follow Trump’s example regarding Iran. “Here is my message to the European leaders: Stop funding the very regime that is sponsoring terrorism against you and against so many others. Stop appeasing Iran.”

Though some noted the irony in the party taking place in Tel Aviv rather than Jerusalem, organizers said the Airport City location was the most convenient and comfortable for the highest number of attendees and should not be ascribed any political meaning.

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