Israeli Ambassador: ‘The Tree of Israel Will Never Be Cut Down’

By Lauretta Brown | May 1, 2014 | 5:10 PM EDT

Newly appointed Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer presents his diplomatic credentials to President Obama on Dec. 4, 2013. (Twitter/Amb. Ron Dermer)

( - Israeli Ambassador to the United States Ron Dermer called Israel “a sovereign nation capable of defending itself,” and vowed that “the tree of Israel will never be cut down."

Dermer made these remarks in a speech Wednesday at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum’s annual “Days of Remembrance” ceremony attended by top White House and Congressional officials.

“What is remarkable about the Jewish people is how little we are fixated on the Holocaust, and how quickly we have overcome its horrors to rebuild our national life. That rebirth came about first and foremost because a stateless and powerless people was transformed into a sovereign nation capable of defending itself,” Dermer said.

“The tree of the Jewish people is now rooted in its own soil. It grows taller and stronger, decade after decade, reaching greater heights in technology and innovation, science and medicine, culture and learning,” he continued.

“It is protected by a sovereign Jewish state and defended by a powerful army, whose soldiers possess the courage of the Maccabees of old. And I have no doubt in the world that it is also guarded by an ancient promise made to my people: The tree of Israel will never be cut down,” he concluded.

The theme of this year’s ceremony was “Confronting the Holocaust: American Responses” and featured remarks from Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew and museum chairman Tom Bernstein followed by a candle-lighting ceremony.

Members of Congress, including House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R.-VA), House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D.-Calif.), Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, (R-Fla) and Rep.Deborah Wasserman Schultz (D.-Fla), helped elderly Holocaust survivors light candles to honor the victims of the Holocaust.

The ceremony took place in the U.S. Capitol’s Emancipation Hall, which Lew called a “fitting” place for an event meant to “bear witness to a horror and brutality unlike any other” and “herald the acts of bravery that brought unmatched atrocities to an end.”

The ceremony was held two days after Secretary of State John Kerry backed off a previous comment referring to Israel as an “apartheid state.” Dermer did not mention Kerry's remark at the ceremony, although he later tweeted his support of the secretary of state.

Instead, the ambassador thanked the United States, where he was born, for its support of Israel over many decades.

“The rebirth of the Jewish people also owes a deep great debt of gratitude to the United States of America, both for its support of the State of Israel over many decades and for being a place where Jews can fully embrace their Jewish identity and at the same time be fully American,” the ambassador said.