July 4th is, of course, a special day for Americans, but we Israelis celebrate it as well. Happy Independence Day!

July 4, 2011 at 7:17am

July 4th is, of course, a special day for Americans, but we

Israelis celebrate it as well. We celebrate with you because America’s

independence is essential to Israel’s independence. Your love of

liberty is the same as ours and our reverence for democracy is

identical. We rejoice because your Founding Fathers were inspired by

our Founding Fathers.

Back in 1776, American patriots compared King George III to the

ancient Pharaoh who enslaved the Jews. George Washington, in their

minds, was Moses and John Adams was Joshua steadfast by his side. The

Atlantic Ocean was like the Red Sea—an obstacle but also a corridor to

freedom, and the thirteen colonies were the twelve tribes that united

and triumphed. Ezra Stiles, the great Hebrew scholar and president of

Yale University, calculated that the population of the United States

at the time of its independence—three million—was precisely the number

of Jews who received the Law at Mount Sinai. And Alexander Hamilton

saw America’s history, like the history of the Jews, as part of a

single providential plan.

Fittingly, then, Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin proposed that

the Great Seal of the newly-declared United States should show Moses

leading the Children of Israel out of slavery. Though the proposal was

ultimately not chosen, the connection between the Exodus and America’s

march to freedom remained indelible.

Today, 235 years later, Israel and United States are still bound by

the same values first inscribed in the Bible. We are bound by the

same vision of leaders who lead according to the law and never above

it; a vision of people endowed with rights that no government can deny

them. Americans and Israelis alike follow the Biblical injunctions to

pursue justice tirelessly and to declare “peace, peace, both far and

near.” Indeed, both peoples are committed to achieving justice and

peace—for ourselves as well for all those in the Middle East who are

rising up against tyranny.

As in the past, Israelis and Americans face many challenges and, once

again, we will overcome them. But on the Fourth of July, we can turn

our attention from our weighty tasks and enjoy the fireworks. We can

lift a hotdog and raise a glass and join with our closest friends in

the world and wish a happy birthday to the United States of America.