There are any number of reasons for supporting Israel.
Jews recall Zion at the happiest and the saddest moments of our lives. At the end of a Jewish wedding, the groom breaks a glass to symbolize our mourning for the destruction of the Holy Temple. On Monday evening, the Passover Seder will conclude with “Next year in Jerusalem!”
For serious Christians, support for Israel is based on God’s enduring word. Instead of weighing geopolitical considerations, or heeding the spurious advice of James Earl Carter -- Hamas’ ambassador to the United States-- they follow Scriptures, period. End of story.
I’m pleased to say that, today, some of Israel’s most eloquent and dedicated champions are Christians, among them Pastor John Hagee (president of Christians United for Israel), William Bennett, Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell and former House Speaker Tom DeLay. To paraphrase the old ads for Levy’s Rye Bread, you don’t have to be Jewish to be a Zionist.
For conservatives, Israel is our only – I repeat, our only -- reliable ally in a region of implacable foes and false friends. For authentic liberals (distinct from leftists), Israel is a bastion of democracy and human rights in a part of the world largely bereft of either.
There’s yet another reason for remembering Jerusalem, one that should resonate in every patriot’s heart: Israel and America are bound by ties transcending the temporal and stretching back in time to the very beginnings of Western Civilization.
Israel speaks to our essence as a people. For America to abandon Israel would be to abandon ourselves – to stop being what we were, who we are and who we could become.
America has a noble tradition of standing up for the little guy. We know that the course of history often turns on the fate of small countries – Belgium in World War I, Czechoslovakia in 1938, and Taiwan and Israel today.
The same foreign-policy sophisticates who are blasé about the fate of Israel are equally nonchalant regarding Taiwan. Who made us their keepers, they ask rhetorically? Why risk war for an insignificant dot on a map, half-a-world away? I mean, really – Whose land is it, anyway?
It’s easy to rationalize the betrayal of little countries.
But when great powers sell out small democracies -- to appease tyrants or terrorists -- they reap the whirlwind that follows in the wake of appeasement.
Who thought the Czechs were worth fighting for at Munich (other than Winston Churchill) or the Poles at Yalta? World War II and the Cold War proved the folly of such short-sighted pragmatism.
It was Churchill who defined an appeaser as one who feeds others to a crocodile in the hope that he’ll be eaten last. After feeding little countries to the crocodile in the ‘30s and ‘40s, the Western powers barely avoided being devoured themselves. Our honor was redeemed at a terrible cost in blood.
Yet Israel has a special connection to America that neither Taiwan, Belgium nor the Czech Republic share.
America didn’t begin at Philadelphia in 1776 or 1787, or at Plymouth in 1620. In a very real sense, it started at a mountain in the Sinai Peninsula more than 3,000 years ago. America was founded on those values – liberty, justice and righteousness – originally articulated in the Torah.
The first settlers on these shores and the Founding Fathers alike were inspired by a Jewish worldview. Like the Israelites, they believed they too had come into the wilderness to create a new society – one dedicated to a Biblical vision.
The first American holiday, Thanksgiving, is based on a commandment in Leviticus, when the Children of Israel are told -- after they entered the Promised Land -- to have a “thanksgiving unto the Lord,” from their first crops.
So strong was the bond that Cotton Mather, the famous Puritan minister, wanted to make Hebrew the official language of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. For the Great Seal of the United States, Benjamin Franklin proposed a depiction of Moses leading the Children of Israel through the Red Sea.
Daniel Webster, who was born during the Revolution, and was close to the Founding Fathers (intellectually, as well as chronologically) said of the Jews: “I feel, and have ever felt, respect and sympathy for all that remains of that extraordinary people who preserved through the darkness of so many centuries, the knowledge of one supreme spiritual Being …. The Hebrew Scriptures I regard as the fountain from which we draw all we know of the world around us, and of our own character and destiny as intelligent, moral and responsible beings.”
Webster echoed the sentiments of John Adams, who declared, “I will insist that the Hebrews have done more to civilize men than any other nation.”
That appreciation for the people who introduced mankind to what’s come to be known as the Judeo-Christian ethic is reflected in the institutions the Founders established on these shores.
As my friend Rabbi Daniel Lapin of Toward Tradition explains, over the course of history, only two nations were founded on a vision – ancient Israel and the United States of America. For each, the vision (in one case, articulated in Mosaic Law and, in the other, initially set forth in the Mayflower Compact) actually preceded possession of the land.
Every president of the United States, from George Washington to George W. Bush, has taken the oath of office on a book that includes the story of the patriarchs and prophets, the Exodus, the encounter at Sinai and the possession of the Promised Land.
The rights and duties set forth in the United States Constitution are echoes of a far older covenant. It’s no coincidence that the first amendments to the Constitution (designated The Bill of Rights) are ten in number, as are the first commandments given at Sinai.
Throughout our nation’s capital, testaments to America’s Jewish heritage are chiseled in stone.
A representation of The Ten Commandments is engraved on each of the oak doors leading to the Supreme Court’s courtroom. A frieze of Moses adorns the Chamber of the U.S. House of Representatives. In the National Archives Building, near the Declaration of Independence, the Roman numerals one through 10 are set in the floor.
More than Rome or Athens, London or Paris, the light that guided our infant republic shone forth from Jerusalem.
The US and Israel are soul mates -- two nations joined at the heart. Colonial America was only the beginning.
America’s rise to global power validates God’s promise, spoken through the mouth of a gentile prophet, “I will bless those that bless you and curse those that curse you.”
The United States offered shores of refuge to generations of Jewish immigrants, including all four of my grandparents. In the Second World War, the United States destroyed history’s most depraved anti-Semite (though, admittedly, that wasn’t our reason for going to war) and liberated the death camps.
At the end of the war, America provided crucial support for the re-establishment of the Jewish state and has helped sustain it for the past six decades.
It’s no coincidence that a president from the Bible Belt was midwife to the modern state of Israel.
In his monumental biography Truman, David McCullough writes of our 33rd president: “He felt satisfaction in what he had been able to do for the Jewish people, and was deeply moved by their expressions of gratitude, then and for years to come. When the Chief Rabbi of Israel, Isaac Halevi Herzog, called at the White House, he told Truman, 'God put you in your mother’s womb so you would be the instrument to bring the rebirth of Israel after two thousand years.'
“’I thought he was overdoing things,’ remembered (Truman aide) David Niles, “but when I looked over at the President, tears were running down his cheeks.’”
From Hayim Solomon (financier of the Revolution) to the present, Jewish patriots have played a crucial role in the American saga.
Albert Einstein gave America the theoretical basis for the weapon that ended the war in the Pacific and helped to keep our freedom during the Cold War. A Jew with the improbable name of Berlin gave us what’s called America’s second national anthem – “God Bless America.”
And God did bless America, in part because America blessed His people.
There is yet another reason why the patriot is called on to support Israel. In a global conflict, with the fate of humanity hanging in the balance, Americans and Israelis confront the same fanatical, hate-filled foe.
The same totalitarian ideology masquerading as a religion that killed 242 Americans in the Beirut Marine Barracks bombing in 1983, that slaughtered 3,000 Americans on 9/11 and that’s responsible for the deaths of more than 3,200 of our servicemen in Iraq – animates Hamas, Hezbollah and Fatah.
Yasser Arafat was the mold from which Osama bin Laden was cast.
His followers are a division of an army bent on world conquest. Five and a half years ago, when America was in mourning for the victims of the World Trade Center, Palestinians did goalpost victory dances in the streets of Gaza City and Ramallah. Later, they named a square in Ramallah after the first suicide bomber who killed American soldiers in Iraq. Hamas contributes fighters to the Iraqi offensive.
Should Israel fall, the enemy would have another bastion to rival Taliban Afghanistan and Iran under the mullahs. Resources could be shifted to other fronts in what’s become a world war – Iraq, Afghanistan, the Balkans, the Kashmir and on and on. If we do nothing when the jihad comes for Israel, comes for India, comes for Serbia, comes for the Christians of the Third World – who will be there for us when it comes for America?
This is not to say that America is bound to always follow the lead of Israel on foreign policy. After all, being composed of mortal men, the government of Israel is as fallible as our own – a reality tragically demonstrated when Jerusalem tries to buy peace with land.
But America does have a responsibility to that nation which was the source of the values on which this country was founded.
In his Farewell Address, George Washington admonished: “Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports.
“In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens” --words of deep wisdom from the father of our country.
Similarly, we might say that no man can call himself a patriot who would seek to sever America’s ties to the source of Western religion and morality.
Our history, our heritage, our faith and our national interest all mandate American support for the Jewish state -- the land where (in a real sense) America began. A patriot who doesn’t understand this is no patriot at all.
This article originally appeared at GrassTopsUSA.com.