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I Live in Israel, but Here’s Why I Still Celebrate the Fourth of July

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
AP Photo/Mary Altaffer

As I prepare to visit the United States for the first time in almost two years, my heart is filled with emotion.

While Israel is my biblical and spiritual homeland, the U.S. is my country of birth, and both the land and the American people will always be near and dear to me. I have family and close friends in America. I speak regularly with the U.S. supporters whose generosity and love for Israel and her people make The Fellowship’s work possible. 


During the coronavirus pandemic, when no one could travel and we all felt trapped in a state of isolation that we wondered if it would ever lift, all my wonderful friends in America never left my heart; and they never left my prayers. 

I’m particularly moved to be coming to the U.S. at the time of America’s Independence Day. And the message I bring to Americans as you gather for the summer holiday is this: As you celebrate the birth of your great nation, Israel celebrates with you. Proverbs 18:24 (ESV) says, “A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” Israel has not always had many friends in the world. Though, by God’s grace, the advent of the Abraham Accords brought alliances with some of our Arab neighbors. But our friendship with America has always been constant, in good times and bad, no matter what administration is in power. It’s true, our friendship has been strained and tested at times; yet, it has never broken. 

Our friendship has endured because its foundation is so deep. Yes, both the U.S. and Israel share key strategic, political, and economic interests. But there is a much deeper foundation: a shared love of freedom, built on faith in God, a common Judeo-Christian heritage, and trust in the institutions we have built upon that heritage. Both nations uphold personal liberty and individual dignity through our democratic systems.


Sometimes those systems are messy. Sometimes necessary political conversations are harsh and difficult. We’ve certainly seen that in both the U.S. and Israel in recent years. I think of something the English writer Charles Moore once wrote about Israel, describing it as a country “robust in its legal and political institutions, free in its press and universities — a noisy democracy.” We may speak loudly, too loudly at times. But everyone has a voice. Our system may not work perfectly, but it works, and we make an effort to correct its faults when and where we can. The same is true for America.

The U.S. and Israel are indeed different in some respects. We speak a different language. Our country is a tiny fraction of the size of the U.S. Each nation is composed of different cultures and ethnicities. But because of shared foundational values, Israelis recognize that the U.S. is a country that is like theirs in the most fundamental and important ways.

The late U.S. President Ronald Reagan once said, “The people of Israel and America are historic partners in the global quest for human dignity and freedom.” This 4th of July, I’m celebrating that global quest as it is as important as it ever has been. Israel celebrates with you, because our friendship goes far beyond our own shared political and military interests. We celebrate America because we share values, beliefs, dreams, and a desire for peace in an unstable world. I pray God continues to bless America, to bless Israel, and that those blessings will be used for the peace and prosperity of the entire world.



Yael Eckstein is the president of the International Fellowship of Christian and Jews. As President of The Fellowship, she also holds the rare distinction of being a woman leading one of the world’s largest, religious not-for-profit organizations, having raised $1.8 billion — mostly from Christians — to assist Israel and the Jewish people. She is the author of the newly released “Generation to Generation: Passing on a Legacy of Faith to our Children.

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