Netanyahu, Peres offer video welcomes for Independence Day

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel’s prime minister and president released video greetings in English on the country’s Independence Day to Diaspora Jewish communities.

“On this 66th Independence Day, I want to thank Israel’s many friends around the globe for their steadfast support for the one and only Jewish state,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said.

“This support from our friends, together with Israel’s vibrant democracy, free economy, strong army and commitment to our shared values form the foundation of our national strength,” he said.

President Shimon Peres in his video had a message for Jews around the world: “Be proud of our heritage, continue to stand united in a spirit of solidarity and partnership, and continue to build a future for our country and people with the hope for peace in your hearts.

“The year ahead will present us with many challenges. The shifting sands of the Middle East generate a sense of insecurity in what tomorrow holds. Change, however, can also present opportunities for new and better prospects that should be seized. With this in mind, Israel strives to become a significant contributor to the development of our region and to the world at large,” he said.

Israel ushered in Independence Day, or Yom Ha’atzmaut, on Monday night, at the close of Memorial Day, with a national ceremony on Mount Herzl.

As part of the theme of the evening, “A Time for Women,” 14 women from various walks of Israeli life lit the evening’s ceremonial torches.

NEXT STORY