(VIDEO) WASHINGTON – Israel's 60th Independence Day was celebrated in Washington DC on Friday, with the participation of Vice President Dick Cheney, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and 1,600 other diplomats and military attaches. Democratic presidential nominee hopeful Barack Obama was also there, making a surprise appearance in which he promised to support Israel.
The event was organized by the Israeli Embassy in Washington, and included Shuli Natan singing the famous 'Jerusalem of Gold'. Military Attache Major General Benny Gantz awarded a special certificate of honor signed by Defense Minister Ehud Barak, to the family of American Colonel Mickey Marcus, who was killed while fighting in Israel's War of Independence.
Obama and Sallai Meridor at the event. (Photo: AP)
``I pledge to you that I will do whatever I can in whatever capacity to not only ensure Israel's security but also to ensure that the people of Israel may thrive and prosper and build on the enormous promise that was made 60 years ago,'' Obama said, receiving massive applause. He was introduced by Ambassador to the US Sallai Meridor.
Cheney declared that Israel had never had a better friend than George Bush, and added that Bush would have liked to attend the event, had he not been in Texas celebrating his daughter's marriage. Bush is scheduled to arrive in Israel next week in order to participate in the celebrations.
And in New York
The 60th anniversary celebrations also reached the Big Apple on Friday, as the four giant screens in Times Square broadcasted blessings from Hollywood's best for Israel's 60th. Tom Cruise, Ben Stiller, Robin Williams, Billy Crystal, Brooke Shields, Kirk and Michael Douglas, and Donald Trump were among the celebrities waving banners wishing Israel a happy Independence Day.
The square's top screen wished Israel a happy holiday, and the three other screens showed the 30-second celebrity clips, which could be seen for blocks.
The project was organized by the Israeli Consulate in New York with help from Steven Spielberg's sister, Nancy Katz, and is expected to be broadcast for one month. Consul-General Asaf Shariv said that the celebrity cooperation helps the consulate to tell Israel's story better.
Another project currently headed by the consulate includes the famous Fifth Avenue, which was chosen as the site on which to display pictures of successful Israelis who have made aliyah. Among the faces displayed are Derrick Sharp, a Florida born basketball star who arrived in Israel in 1993, and is currently captain of Maccabi Tel Aviv, and Sasha Grishkov, a Soviet Union born singer.
Other participants in the project include Cabra Kasai, a singer who came to Israel from Ethiopia, Mirit Greenberg, Israeli beauty queen of 1997, and Israeli Arab Diplomat Rania Jubran.