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Yoram Ettinger

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1620-2020: the 400th Anniversary of the US-Israel Alliance

The Early Pilgrims

The roots of the unique ties between the United States and Israel precede the 1776 US Declaration of Independence and the 1948 founding of Israel.   They eclipse the political beltway of Washington, DC, transcend the pertinent role of the Jewish community, are deeper than the intimate diplomatic discourse between the two countries, and exceed the mutually-beneficial bilateral defense and commercial cooperation.

The seeds of US civic culture and the unique US-Israel kinship were planted in 1620 by the 102 “Mayflower” passengers, who landed at Plymouth Rock, Massachusetts.

These passengers were inspired by the Old Testament, referring to their departure from England as the “Modern Day Exodus;” the sailing across the Atlantic Ocean as the “Modern Day Parting of the Sea;” and the New World as the “Modern Day Promised Land” and the “New Israel.”  They considered themselves the “Modern Day Chosen People.”

Hence, the litany of Biblically-named towns, cities, mountains, deserts, national parks and forests throughout the United States.  For example, in the US there are 18 Jerusalems, 32 Salems (the original Biblical name of Jerusalem), 83 Shilohs (where the first tabernacle stood), etc.

In 2020, these roots are reflected by the statues and engravings of Moses and some 200 Ten Commandments monuments, which are featured in the US House of Representatives, the US Supreme Court, the Library of Congress, the Justice Department and throughout the US.

Familiarity with Hebrew was quite common among the Early Pilgrims’ intelligentsia and the better-educated clergy. Thus, the ten initial universities offered Hebrew courses, and valedictory addresses at Harvard, Yale and other institutions of higher learning were offered in Hebrew.

Yale University’s 7th President, Ezra Stiles (1778-1795), spoke, read and taught Hebrew in addition to astronomy, chemistry and philosophy.  He urged graduate students to be able to recite Psalms in Hebrew, “because that is what St. Peter will expect of you at the Pearly Gates.”

The official seals of Yale University (“Light and Truth”), Columbia University (“Jehovah” and “Divine Light”) and Dartmouth College (“God Almighty( feature Biblical terms in Hebrew.

The Founding Fathers

The legacy of Moses and the Exodus had a profound impact on the Early Pilgrims, the 1776 American Revolution, the shaping of The Federalist Papers, US Constitution, Bill of Rights, Separation of Powers and Checks and Balances.

In fact, the inscription on the Liberty Bell is from Leviticus, Chapter 25, Verse 10: “Proclaim liberty throughout all the Land, unto all the Inhabitants thereof.” The inscription is the essence of the Biblical Jubilee, which was considered by the Founding Fathers as the role model of liberty.

Furthermore, Thomas Paine’s Common Sense, which was the moral and intellectual touchstone of the American Revolution, was influenced by the Old Testament: “For the will of the Almighty as declared by Gideon, and the prophet Samuel, expressly disapproves of government by kings… (pp. 10-13).”

James Madison, the 4th President and the “Father of the Constitution” stated: “We have staked the future of all our political institutions upon our capacity… to sustain ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God….”

The Abolitionist Movement

Moses and the Exodus played a key role in the formation of the Abolitionist anti-slavery movement, and in the determination of President Lincoln to abolish slavery. Thus, Harriet Tubman, who initiated the Underground Railroad, which freed Black slaves, was called Mama Moses.

The anti-slavery anthem of Black slaves was composed with lyrics from Exodus, Chapter 8 Verse 1: “Go Down Moses, way down in Egypt land, tell old Pharaoh to let my people go.”  The Jewish liberation from Egyptian bondage inspired Martin Luther King, Jr., the key leader of the Civil Rights Movement (1955-1968).

US identification with Jewish Statehood

The 2nd US President, John Adams, supported the idea of a Jewish State in the Land of Israel: “I really wish the Jews again in Judea an independent nation.”

On March 5, 1891, six years before the convening of the 1897 First Zionist Congress, over 400 US leaders, including the Chief Justice, House and Senate leaders and chairmen of Congressional committees, governors and mayors, signed the Blackstone Memorial, which called for the reestablishment of a Jewish State in the Land of Israel.

On June 30, 1922 Congress passed a Joint Resolution, which was signed by President Warren Harding: “…. Favoring the establishment, in Palestine, of a national home for the Jewish people….

The 400 year old roots and the US Supreme Court

Theodore White wrote in The Making of the President, 1964: “It was as if Kennedy, a younger Moses, had led an elder Joshua [Lyndon Johnson] to the height of Mount Nebo, and there shown him the Promised Land which he himself would never enter.”

On December 24, 1968, the three astronauts of Apollo 8, the first manned mission to the moon, conducted a direct broadcast to earth, reciting the first ten verses of the Creation from the Book of Genesis.

The depth and potency of the 400 year old roots were expressed on June 28, 2005, by Chief Justice William Rehnquist, who ruled that the Ten Commandment monument on the grounds of the Texas State Capitol was constitutional: “Since 1935, Moses has stood, holding two tablets… in the [Supreme Court’s] south frieze…. Moses was a lawgiver and a religious leader, and the Ten Commandments have undeniable historical meaning….”

These 400 year old roots have nourished an exceptional bottom-up international relations phenomenon, whereby elected US officials implement the worldview of most constituents, enhancing the ideological, cultural, commercial, technological and military bond between the United States and its most reliable, systematic, effective and ideological ally, Israel.







Is The Palestinian Issue The Crux Of The Arab-Israeli Conflict?

האם ההתנחלויות הן מכשול לשלום?

Is The Palestinian Issue The Crown Jewel Of Arab Policy Makers?

The legacy of Moses and the Exodus in the Abolitionist anti-slavery movement

Make the Palestinian Issue Central Again?

According to a November 12, 2020 OpEd by Nabil Amr, a confidant of Mahmoud Abbas, published by the leading Saudi daily Asharq Al-Awsat : “Ballots with Biden’s name would have filled the boxes if placed in Ramallah…. [The Palestinian Authority] bets are that Biden’s victory [will] resume ties with the US Administration, pumping money into the Palestinian Authority’s virtually empty coffers, reopening the PLO’s Washington Office and the US Consulate in Jerusalem, tasked with dealing with Palestinian affairs…. The new Administration will also go back to talking about the two-state solution and repudiate unilateral actions like annexation…. Trump’s Administration took a totally different path….”

However, the “Palestine Firsters” among the future policy makers in Washington, DC, are infatuated with the Palestinian cause, assuming that the Palestinian issue is central to the Arab-Israeli conflict and the overall Arab agenda.  They have ignored the fact that Arabs viewed Palestinians as the role model for intra-Arab terrorism, subversion and ingratitude, a low level (and negative) priority on their agenda.

The “Palestine Firsters” should study the two hour October 5, 2020 TV interview by Prince Bandar bin Sultan, a senior member of the Saudi royal family and a former head of the Saudi intelligence services and national security council:

“It is not surprising to see how quick are Palestinian leaders [criticizing the Israel-UAE peace accord] to use terms like ‘treason,’ betrayal’ and ‘backstabbing.’  These are their ways in dealing with each other…. They always bet on the losing side.  In the 1930s, [the top Palestinian leader] Amin al-Husseini was betting on the Nazis in Germany…. [Following WW2, the Palestinians embraced the USSR]…. [In 1970], Arafat’s headquarters were in Jordan, and he decided that it was time to liberate not Palestine, but Jordan [through a bloody civil war]…. They had only been in Lebanon a few years when they began to behave as they did in Jordan, and Lebanon became the new target.  It led to a [1975-1982] civil war…. No one can forget the image of Arafat as he visited Saddam Hussein in 1990, after the occupation of Kuwait [which was the most generous Arab host of the Palestinians]…. We saw Arafat in Baghdad, embracing Saddam, and laughing and joking with him…. We saw [Palestinian] youth in Nablus dancing joyfully in celebration of [Saddam’s] missile attack on Riyadh, holding pictures of Saddam…. We are at a stage in which rather than…serve the Palestinian cause, we have to pay attention to our national security and interests…. We are surrounded by a stormy sea [Iran’s Ayatollahs, the Muslim Brotherhood, Al Qaeda and Turkey’s Erdogan]…. We do not allow [Palestinian] liars and those who are disloyal to impose their tradition on us…. The Palestinian leaders have come to regard Tehran and Ankara higher than they regard Riyadh, Kuwait, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Bahrain, Oman and Egypt….”

Contrary to the “Palestine Firsters'” state of mind, Saudi cooperation with Israel – commercially, militarily and diplomatically – has expanded unprecedentedly, notwithstanding Palestinian condemnations, pressure and threats.  Moreover, Saudi Arabia has been a chief engine behind the UAE’s, Bahrain’s and Sudan’s peace accords with Israel, which have bypassed the Palestinian issue, focusing on “what’s in it for the Arabs” in their cooperation with Israel.

The “Palestine Firsters'” litany of peace initiatives were crashed against the rocks of Middle East reality, due to their erroneous assumptions that the Palestinian issue was a core cause of Middle East turbulence, the crux of the Arab-Israeli conflict, and that the Arabs favored the establishment of a Palestinian state.

They sacrificed Middle East reality on the altar of a supposed Palestinian centrality. On the other hand, overcoming the temptation of such an overly simplistic assessment of the Palestinian issue yielded the successful conclusion of Israel’s peace treaties with Arab countries (Egypt, Jordan, the UAE, Bahrain and Sudan).

Thus, the farther are peace initiatives from the trap (veto) of the Palestinian issue, the closer they are to expanding the number of Israel-Arab peace treaties.

Moreover, the more relevant is the peace initiative to the particular Arab interest – where the threats of Iran, the Muslim Brotherhood, Al Qaeda and Turkey, and the need to diversify the oil-based economy, dwarf the Palestinian issue – the stronger the incentive for the Arabs to conclude peace treaties with Israel.

The Palestinian track record has led all pro-US, moderate Arab regimes to conclude that the proposed Palestinian state would add fuel to the Middle East fire, while Israel’s track record has played a key role in minimizing Middle East turbulence.

On October 2, 2020, Ambassador Dennis Ross – a veteran “Palestine Firster” – was asked by an i24News interviewer: “For years you were working on the assumption that peace between Israel and the Palestinians was the key, the only key, to peace between Israel and Arab countries.  A few weeks ago, this assumption was shattered by the signing of peace treaties between Israel and the UAE and Israeli and Bahrain.  Have you been wrong all these years?!”

Most “Palestine Firsters” would agree that Israel’s posture of deterrence is a bulwark against Iran’s Ayatollahs and Sunni Islamic terrorism, bolstering the stability of the highly vulnerable and relatively-moderate pro-Western Arab regimes, and therefore, incentivizing Arabs to conclude peace treaties with Israel.

However, such an assessment, on the one hand, and the urging of Israel to retreat to a 9-15-mile waistline between the Mediterranean and the over-powering mountains of Judea and Samaria – which would obliterate Israel’s posture of deterrence – on the other hand, constitutes a classic oxymoron.

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Is The Palestinian Issue The Crux Of The Arab-Israeli Conflict?

האם ההתנחלויות הן מכשול לשלום?

Is The Palestinian Issue The Crown Jewel Of Arab Policy Makers?

The legacy of Moses and the Exodus in the Abolitionist anti-slavery movement