June 28, 2018
Dear Friend of Israel,
On July 4, Independence Day, Americans will gather to celebrate the blessings of freedom, and offer richly-deserved thanks to the men and women who fight to secure that freedom.
As one who has lived both in the U.S. and Israel, Independence Day also leads me to reflect upon the enduring relationship between these two great nations. It is instructive to remember that the man primarily responsible for making the U.S. the first nation to recognize the modern state of Israel after her founding in 1948 was a devoted Christian – U.S. President Harry Truman.
Some in Truman’s administration spoke forcefully against U.S. recognition of the new Jewish state. Secretary of State James Forrestal argued, “It is clear that in any contest, the Arabs are going to overwhelm the Jews. Why don't you face up to the realities? Just look at the numbers!"
It is to Harry Truman’s everlasting credit that he was unimpressed by “the numbers.” Clark Clifford, who was special counsel to Truman, remembers that Truman “had been deeply moved by the plight of the millions of homeless of World War II, and felt that alone among the homeless, the Jews had no homeland of their own to which they could return.”
Truman’s position was also deeply rooted in his faith. Clifford continues, “[Truman] was a student and believer in the Bible since his youth. From his reading of the Old Testament he felt the Jews derived a legitimate historical right to Palestine.”
Truman never regretted his decision to recognize the Jewish state. “I had faith in Israel before it was established, I have faith in it now,” he said years later. “I believe it has a glorious future before it – not just another sovereign nation, but as an embodiment of the great ideals of our civilization."
On Independence Day, Americans will celebrate freedom and recommit themselves to the high ideals espoused by the Founding Fathers – and rightly so. But let us also remember the words of Psalm 119: “I will always obey your law, for ever and ever. I will walk about in freedom, for I have sought out your precepts” (v. 44-45).
As Jews and Christians, our truest, deepest freedom comes in obedience to God. This liberty, my friends, is a liberty that government can neither grant nor take away.
With prayers for shalom, peace,
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
Founder and President