The US mindset on Israel – unlike the US attitude toward other countries – is a bottom-top phenomenon: a derivative of the US public worldview, which feeds legislators in the House and Senate and policy-makers in the White House.
The US mindset on Israel draws its strength from the religious, ethical, moral and cultural roots of the US society, which were planted in 1620 and thereafter upon the arrival of the Early Pilgrims, and bolstered by the Founding Fathers, who authored the US Constitution in 1787.
For example, the Early Pilgrims referred to their 6-8 week sail in the Atlantic Ocean as the “Modern Day Exodus” and “Parting of the Sea.” Their destination was “the Modern Day Promised Land.” Hence, the hundreds of US towns, cities, parks and deserts bearing Biblical names such as Zion, Jerusalem, Salem, Bethel, Shilo, Bethlehem, Dothan, Hebron, Gilead, Carmel, Rehoboth, Boaz, Moab, etc.
Furthermore, the Philadelphia Liberty Bell, which represents the Founding Fathers’ concept of liberty, features an inscription from Leviticus, 25:10, which presents the Biblical core of liberty – the Jubilee: “Proclaim liberty throughout all the land and all the inhabitants thereof.” Moreover, Yale University’s seal is inscribed in Hebrew letters: אורים ותומים, which was the power of the High Priest during the Exodus from Egypt. And, the seal of Columbia University features the four Hebrew letters of God: יהוה (Jehovah) and one of God’s Angels: אוריאל (Uriel – Divine Light in Hebrew). The battle against slavery was based on Biblical values and themes, such as “Let My People Go,” and a key leader in that battle, Harriet Tubman, earned the name “Mama Moses.”
In spite of the erosion of these roots and core values – as a result of demographic and ideological transformations in the US – their impact has been deeper than shifting national security interests, and more effective than the worldview of short-term serving policy-makers.
In fact, these long-term core values (and the larger geo-strategic, regional and global context) have moderated occasional short-term confrontations between the leaders of the US and Israel.
While the US Jewish community has provided tailwinds to the 400-year old unique US mindset on the concept of a Jewish State, it was not the Jewish community that laid the foundations of such a unique public mindset toward the Jewish State.
The potency of the core American values – which are defined as Judeo-Christian values in the US, which is the most religious Western democracy – is reflected by the 69% favorability of Israel, according to the February 2019 annual Gallup poll (compared with 21% Palestinian favorability) in defiance of significant odds, which do not challenge any other ally of the US: a systematic criticism by the “elite” US media and many in the US academia; the entrenched hostility of the State Department’s movers and shakers, who opposed Israel’s establishment in 1948, and have brutally criticized Israel ever since; and a pressure by all US presidents from Truman through Obama.
However, contrary to presidential pressure on Israel, the Jewish State has enjoyed systematic support by the co-equal and co-determining Legislature, which has been the most authentic representative of the (largely pro-Israel) American public and, therefore, is most attentive to public mindset and concerns. The Legislature is well aware of the awesome public muscle, which is displayed every two years during the election cycles for the (full) House and (one third) Senate, which have highlighted the electorate battle cry: “We shall remember in November.”
Ignoring the electorate’s core values amounts to political suicide by Members of the House and the Senate, and could transform presidents into “lame ducks.”
Among the core values of the US electorate are the bust of Moses facing the Speaker in the Chamber of the House of Representatives; the statue of Moses and the Ten Commandments on the ceiling of the US Supreme Court above the seats of the nine Supreme Court Justices; the Ten Commandments monuments on the ground of the State Capitols in Austin, TX, Oklahoma City, OK and Little Rock, AR, and in scores of additional towns in the US; the statues of Joshua, King David and Judah the Maccabee among the “Nine Worthies” at the West Point Military Academy Administration Building; the January, 2001 welcoming address by Senator Mitch McConnell of the newly-elected President George W. Bush: “We trust that you shall lead us in the best tradition of Joshua and Caleb”; etc.
Thus, the inception and perpetuation of the unique US public mindset on the Jewish State – since the 1620 docking of the “Mayflower” – has been a derivative of the assumption made by most Americans that the Jewish State is not a generic foreign entity, but rather an integral part of cardinal Judeo-Christian values, which have shaped the US history, morality and culture.
This column was originally published at The Ettinger Report.
The views expressed in guest columns are not necessarily the views or positions of the CCNS or its members.