WASHINGTON – Former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger made headline in the United States on Tuesday night when he spoke at an Independence Day celebration hosted by the Consulate General of Israel
in Los Angeles.
It was the politician-actor's first public appearance since announcing the separation from his wife, Maria Shriver.
In a speech broadcast in the US, Schwarzenegger expressed his love for the State of Israel and for his soon-to-be ex-wife. "It was love at first sight," the "terminator" said.
Before entering the event, he wished Israel "another 63 years of great joy, peace and a thriving economy and everyone being happy".
"I've had the pleasure of being there many times," he added, "and have seen it from a bodybuilding point of view, from a tourist's point of view, from an entertainer's point of view, from the governor's point of view, forming trade relationships with Israel in order. I have been a long-time friend of Israel."
Schwarzenegger at Israeli Consulate General (Photo: Peter Halmagyi)
In his speech Schwarzenegger stated, "I love Israel. When I became governor, Israel was the first country that I visited. When I had the chance to sign a bill calling on California pension funds to divest their money from companies that do business with Iran,
I immediately signed that bill.
"I knew that we could not send money to these crazy dictators who hate us and threaten Israel any time they have a bad day."
Stood by Israel during Operation Cast Lead (Photo: Peter Halmagyi)
Schwarzenegger spoke of his love for Israel and for Maria Shriver. "I love my wife, and we both love Israel very much. I want to take a moment and thank our many friends and family for the tremendous amount of support and love that you have given us in the last 24 hours."
He said that Israel was a "beacon of democracy, human rights and technological innovations" and announced his plan to visit the Jewish state again soon.
Israeli Consul-General Jacob Dayan noted in his speech that when Israel was blasted during Operation Cast Lead,
he turned to then-California Governor Schwarzenegger and to Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, and the two took part in a press conference and defended Israel.
The two officials received merit certificates during the Independence Day event organized by the Consulate at the Skirball Cultural Center in LA.