Marking July 4, Netanyahu says "short term" democratic prospects in
region doubtful but he is hopeful about long term.
Democracy is not only a government that represents a majority of the
people, but also one where the rights of every individual are
respected, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said Tuesday, referring
to the revolutions sweeping the Arab world.
Netanyahu, who because of his leg injury did not attend the annual
July 4 celebration at the home of the US ambassador in Herzliya, sent
a taped video message instead in which he said real democracy is not
merely holding popular elections, but also about what happens between
While Netanyahu said that there was "ample reason for skepticism"
whether the nations of the region will join the US and Israel in
becoming true democracies in the short term, "in the long term I
believe there is reason for hope."
That reason, he said, was because "with the spread of information
technology it will become increasingly difficult to keep young minds
closed, cloistered in darkness."
Ultimately, Netanyahu said "the power of freedom is bound to prevail"
and the people of the Middle East will "enjoy the rights that we in
free societies too often take for granted."
President Shimon Peres, speaking at the ceremony, praised US
President Barack Obama´s commitment to Israel and said that he was
convinced that on the issue of stopping Iran´s nuclear march
Obama "will stand on this issue strong as a lion."
US ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro, during his remarks, mentioned
the Iranian issue as one in which there was close cooperation between
the two countries.
Shapiro, who delivered part of his comments in Hebrew, said he could
think of no people with whom it was more appropriate to celebrate
America´s independence than with the people of Israel. "No people
with whom we identify more closely, no people whose story more
closely resembles our own."
Shapiro said that no one could match Israelis for their energy,
creativity, guts and spirit, and that throughout years of tremendous
challenge, Israel´s commitment to democratic values has
proven "strong, lasting and resilient."
One "special" guest at the event was Jewish US Supreme Court Justice
Elena Kagan, on a three week visit -- her first ever -- to Israel.
"All of you know of course how much Israel means to American Jews,
like me, but it also means a great deal too American judges and
lawyers, and that is because of Israel´s great commitment -- a
commitment our two countries share -- to the rule of law, and to an
independent judiciary that helps sustain it," she said.