“It is not in numbers, but in unity, that our great strength lies; yet our present numbers are sufficient to repel the force of all the world.”
Thomas Paine, Common Sense
January 9, 1776
On January 9, 1776, exactly 242 years ago, the great American Patriot Thomas Paine published the first edition of his pamphlet “Common Sense.” In it he advanced the arguments why the colonies needed to break free from England, and argued for a new political system based on democracy and equality, quite dissimilar to England’s monarchy and class-based hierarchy. While he acknowledged that the colonies were outnumbered and outgunned, he declared that the unity of the American colonies in spirit and purpose would withstand the battles to come.
Those sentiments are being borne out again, this time, between the United States of America and Israel.
On December 6, 2017, US President Trump acknowledged the reality that Jerusalem is the capital city of the State of Israel. It was a move that was welcomed by the government of Israel, but not by much of the world.
Shortly thereafter, the United Nations Security Council voted to denounce USA’s decision in a vote of 14-to-1, with only the US voting against the measure. That single vote by a permanent member of the UNSG was enough to block the resolution.
The Arab states moved to have a similar vote at the UN General Assembly. The lopsided vote came in at 128 countries voting to condemn the American recognition, 9 votes supporting the USA and 35 countries abstaining. The overwhelming vote was non-binding and the US continued to take measures that were completely within its rights and jurisdiction .
Not seven weeks after the US declaration of the Jerusalem Acknowledgment, US Vice President came to Israel, to visit its capital city of Jerusalem and address its parliament, the Knesset. He loudly and clearly proclaimed the unity between the US and Israel:
US Vice President Mike Pence addressing the Knesset
(photo: January 22, 2018)
“Thanks to the [US] President’s leadership, the alliance between our two countries has never been stronger, and the friendship between our peoples has never been deeper. And I am here to convey a simple message from the heart of the American people: America stands with Israel.
We stand with Israel because your cause is our cause, your values are our values, and your fight is our fight.
We stand with Israel because we believe in right over wrong, in good over evil, and in liberty over tyranny.”
Pence made clear that the US stands with Israel in both the positive and negative; in the passive and the aggressive.
The US stands with Israel in the mundane. In a democratic way of life. In commerce and trade. In acknowledging truth and fact.
And the US also stands with Israel against the forces of hatred, racism and antisemitism. Against evil ideologies and terror. Against distortions and fake history.
Pence reiterated those comments, as he absorbed the history of the Jews and the history of America:
“In the story of the Jews, we’ve always seen the story of America. It is the story of an exodus, a journey from persecution to freedom, a story that shows the power of faith and the promise of hope….
“It was here, in Jerusalem, that King David consecrated the capital of the Kingdom of Israel. And since its rebirth, the modern State of Israel has called this city the seat of its government.
“Jerusalem is Israel’s capital. And, as such, President Trump has directed the State Department to immediately begin preparations to move the United States Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. In the weeks ahead, our administration will advance its plan to open the United States Embassy in Jerusalem, and that United States Embassy will open before the end of next year.”
In my time with those leaders, and with your Prime Minister, we discussed the remarkable transformation that is taking place across the Middle East today, and the need to forge a new era of cooperation in our day and age.
The winds of change can already be witnessed across the Middle East. Longstanding enemies are becoming partners. Old foes are finding new ground for cooperation. And the descendants of Isaac and Ishmael are coming together in common cause as never before.
Last year, in Saudi Arabia, President Trump addressed an unprecedented gathering of leaders from more than 50 nations at the Arab Islamic American Summit. He challenged the people of this region to work ever closer together, to recognize shared opportunities and to confront shared challenges. And the President urged all who call the Middle East their home to, in his words, “meet history’s great test — [and] conquer extremism and vanquish the forces of terrorism together.”
It was the faith of the Jewish people that gathered the scattered fragments of a people and made them whole again; that took the language of the Bible and the landscape of the Psalms and made them live again. And it was faith that rebuilt the ruins of Jerusalem and made them strong again.
The miracle of Israel is an inspiration to the world. And the United States of America is proud to stand with Israel and her people, as allies and cherished friends.”
The US is proud of Israel and Israel is proud of the US. That unity is a strength for both countries and will hopefully continue to “repel the force of the world” for many years to come.
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