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June 27, 2019 5:39 am

The Unique US Mindset on Israel

avatar by Yoram Ettinger


A worker on a crane hangs a US flag next to an Israeli flag near the site of the US Embassy in Jerusalem. Photo: Reuters / Ronen Zvulun.

The US mindset on Israel — unlike the US attitude towards other countries — is a bottom-up phenomenon: a derivative of the US public worldview, which feeds legislators in the House of Representatives and the Senate, and policymakers in the White House.

The US mindset on Israel draws its strength from the religious, ethical, moral, and cultural roots of US society, which were planted by the early Pilgrims and bolstered by the Founding Fathers.

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 features an inscription from Leviticus 25:10: “Proclaim liberty throughout all the land and all the inhabitants thereof.”

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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.

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 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.

The potency of these core American values — which are defined as Judeo-Christian values in the US, which is the most religious Western democracy — is reflected by a 69 percent favorability toward Israel, according to the February 2019 annual Gallup poll (compared with 21 percent Palestinian favorability) in defiance of significant odds, such as a systematic criticism by many in the “elite” US media and the US academia; and 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.

However, the Jewish state has enjoyed systematic support by the co-equal and co-determining Legislative Branch of the government, despite occasional pressure from US presidents.

Among the symbols of Judeo-Christian values in the US capitol are the bust of Moses facing the Speaker in the House of Representatives, and 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. There’s also the Ten Commandments monuments on the ground of the state capitols in Austin, TX; Oklahoma City, OK; and Little Rock, AR; as well as scores of additional towns in the US; and many more examples.

Thus, the inception and perpetuation of the unique US public mindset on the Jewish state has been a derivative of the assumption made by most Americans that Israel is not a generic foreign entity, but rather an integral part of cardinal Judeo-Christian values, which have shaped US history, morality, and culture.

Yoram Ettinger is a former ambassador and head of Second Thought: a US-Israel Initiative.

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