By Gal Sitty
The unshakable bond between the United States and Israel was on full display this weekend at AIPAC’s annual Policy Conference in Washington, DC. Every year this event draws thousands of guests who arrive from all over the country to express their support for a strong US-Israel relationship. What is most impressive about this event is that it may be the only time when there is such a large gathering of people in Washington from across the political spectrum, Democrats, Republicans, Independents and everyone in between.
What unites them all is their support of strong US-Israel ties; one of the few truly bipartisan issues that transcends all of American politics. President Obama addressed the crowd, as did Republican presidential candidates Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum. Independent Senator Joe Lieberman spoke as did many other leaders from the Republican and Democratic parties. Major political analysts and news contributors from major media outlets also spoke in support of a strong US-Israel alliance.
How is it that all these individuals, who can’t agree on healthcare, reproductive issues, balancing the budget and even other foreign policy issues, can come together on this issue? The answer lies in the basic American values of freedom and democracy that does unite people from across the political spectrum.
Regardless of whether one has more liberal or conservative views all Americans believe in the basic principles of liberty outlined by the forefathers in the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights. Thus most Americans recognize that the basic beliefs that unite them all is also what unites them to the State of Israel.
Israel, like the United States, was founded by visionaries who set out to form a society in which the individual freedoms shared by all will allow everyone the opportunity to thrive. The founders and first generations of both nations escaped religious persecution in Europe and understood the need to have a free and tolerant society.
“Israel, is not only a Jewish value, it is a cherished American value” – Kathy Ireland at AIPAC Policy Conference
The United States became that bastion of freedom in the New World. Israel is now that oasis democracy in the Old World. Israel, adopting American ideals of liberty and freedom, became the first country to safeguard the major holy sites of the Abrahamic religions much the same way the United States was the first country to safeguard true religious freedom. These countries both emerged from British rule only to confront many of their own challenges, including territorial disputes and wars. Yet despite these challenges neither lost sight of the importance of their basic founding principles.
This is why most Americans, including all of our nation’s leaders, are so emphatic in their support of Israel. They understand that Israel is an extension of American values in the world. They know that as America has brought prosperity and stability that has never been seen before in recorded history, Israel’s existence can and has contributed to that.