The one issue that transcends party lines, brings Jews and Christians together, and unites Americans like few other issues can—is America’s support for Israel.
Those who crave bi-partisanship should rejoice in the fact that Congress, the Senate—and now even the White House—have come together to support Israel.
The U.S. Congress is staunchly pro-Israel. As former Democratic President Bill Clinton said in September, “I think that everybody knows the U.S. Congress is the most pro-Israel parliamentary body in the world.” Even The Jewish Daily Forward observed that Congressional “lawmakers on both sides of the political aisle are falling over one another to show their support for Israel.”
In the U.S. Senate, support for Israel is now a tri-partisan issue. Democratic firebrand Senator Charles Schumer, Republican Tea Party darling Marco Rubio, and Independent Senator Joseph Lieberman were among the fourteen Senators who crossed party lines in September to sign an open letter to President Obama, urging him to stand with Israel. They wrote, “We therefore urge you to utilize the opportunity offered by your address at the United Nations next week to reaffirm and explain America’s determination to stand by Israel at this difficult hour. The world needs to hear unequivocally from you that Israel—our friend, ally, and strategic partner—is not alone in facing these threats.”
President Obama then stood before the United Nations and stood up for Israel. He gave voice to the tri-partisan opinion of the U.S. Senate, the bi-partisan opinion of the U.S. Congress, and the overwhelming majority of American citizens who stand firmly on the side of Israel, when he declared to the world body that, “America’s commitment to Israel’s security is unshakeable. Our friendship with Israel is deep and enduring.”
Israel does more than bring political parties together. It also brings together different religions.
America’s support for Israel is now healing generations of distrust between Christians and Jews. Thanks to the pioneering work of Christian Pastor John Hagee, and Jewish leaders like Senator Lieberman and Dennis Prager, the largest pro-Israel group in America today is a Christian group called Christians United For Israel (CUFI). I was at the CUFI conference in Washington, DC this summer, with thousands of Christians, young and old, dancing with Jews to traditional Jewish songs—in between speeches by Christians and Jews, whites and blacks, and even a Mormon. As my friend Rabbi Shmuley Boteach wrote of the experience, “I was, surrounded by Christians from all over the nation waving Israeli and American flags, pledging eternal love and support to the most vilified country on earth.”
I had the honor of writing for Binyamin Netanyahu during his successful 2009 campaign to become Israel’s Prime Minister. While many Americans crave bi-partisanship in government, the Israeli government must be multi-partisan. Because there are so many political parties in Israel, the only way Prime Minister Netanyahu could form government was to form a coalition with the people and the parties he defeated. Israel’s government is not just bi-partisan, it is sexa-partisan (six different political parties, joined together in a governing coalition). Imagine President Obama having to govern with a Cabinet made up of Michele Bachmann, Jim DeMint, Louie Gohmert, Ralph Nader, Rick Perry, Sarah Palin and the Congressional Black Caucus. And, if they disagree with the President and decide to join forces, they could form a coalition of their own and take over the White House. That is how politics work in Israel, and that is why it is so important for Israeli politicians to get along with one other.
Getting along with others is nothing new in Israel. Israel is where the world’s three great religions—Judaism, Christianity and Islam—coexist. Israel is the only place in the Middle East where Christians are free to be Christians, where Jews are free to be Jews, and where Muslims are free to be Muslims. The same cannot be said for any country that surrounds Israel, where many Jews and Christians—and even free-minded Muslims—are forced to flee to places that are more inclusive and welcoming. Like Israel.
More than one million Arabs now live in Israel. Arabs are treated better in Israel than they are in Arab countries. Arab Women are treated better in Israel than they are in Arab countries. And homosexual Arabs (yes, Mr. Ahmadinejad, they exist) find their only safe refuge in the Middle East within the protective and inclusive borders of Israel.
Israel brings us together. It is the one issue that unites Republicans/Democrats/Independents, Jews/Christians/Muslims, gays and straights, Tea Partiers and Chuck Schumer—and now even the President of the United States.