One Nation, Under God
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein | June 30, 2016
Dear Friend of Israel
On Independence Day in the U.S., Americans typically spend the day in backyards and parks, gathered with friends and strangers in the common goal of celebrating the land of the free and home of the brave. I pray that this holiday helps remind all Americans that they still are one nation, under God.
Independence Day is a time to remember the principles of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness upon which America was built. This quest for religious liberty also brings to mind the U.S.’s greatest ally, Israel. For millennia, Jews around the world have been subject to religious oppression and hateful anti-Semitism. And, though Jews have contributed richly to the culture and community of nations around the world for centuries, it was only when they found their way back to their biblical homeland that they truly were able to live free of that oppression, and with the autonomy and self-determination that are the right of any free people.
Because I’ve been blessed to call both the U.S. and Israel home, on Independence Day I cannot help but reflect on the unique and enduring relationship between the U.S. and Israel. That relationship was established from the beginning, when in 1948 U.S. President Harry Truman made the U.S. the first country to recognize the newly-formed Jewish state.
Since then, Israel and the U.S. have been dependable friends. That friendship, it is true, has been strained and tested at times. But it has never broken. This is because both nations are built upon principles of democracy, individual freedom, faith, and the rule of law. These shared values create broad areas of agreement on key principles, meaning that Israel and the U.S. more often than not stand united on important issues.
Israel still very much needs our friendship. She is surrounded by nations that repeatedly and publicly call for her destruction, is continually subject to terrorist attacks, and receives harsh and unwarranted criticism in the media and by world powers. And the U.S. needs Israel as well. As the forces of radical Islam seek to solidify their control in the Middle East and as terrorists gain in strength throughout the world – a fact we again saw illustrated in the devastating terror attack on the Istanbul airport earlier this week – we desperately need our allies. And we have no greater ally than Israel, because our alliance is not just strategic. It is based on, in the words of columnist Jeff Jacoby, a “kinship of common values” that transcends politics.
This July 4, let us remember all the men and women whose service and sacrifice have made our country great. And, as we look up once again at the fireworks displays in the heavens, may we also lift our prayers of gratitude to God for the blessings of living in a free nation, and for the long and enduring friendship between the United States and Israel.
With prayers for shalom, peace,
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
Founder and President