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