WASHINGTON (JTA) – President Obama said Israel’s independence validated the vision of Zionism’s founder, Theodor Herzl.
Obama in his message Tuesday wishing Israelis a "joyous" Independence Day recalled his visit last month to Israel and laying a wreath at Herzl’s grave in Jerusalem.
"There, I was honored to pay tribute to Theodor Herzl, who did so much to realize the dream of an independent Israel, to the presidents and prime ministers who guided her, and to those in uniform who have laid down their lives to protect her," Obama said. "The strong and prosperous Israel we see today proves Herzl’s vision – ‘if you will it, it is no dream.’ ”
Obama administration officials have continued the practice initiated by President George W. Bush of referring to Israel repeatedly as a Jewish state.
Since his visit, Obama has several times emphasized the particulars of the Jewish connection to Israel.