With the following words, America’s 40th president, Ronald W. Reagan—still in the first year of his presidency—greeted Menachem Begin, the sixth prime minister of the modern state of Israel:
We’re proud to stand beside you this morning, joining a tradition of hospitality for Israel observed by our Presidents for more than three decades. Your visit is testimony to the warm friendships, mutual respect, and shared values that bind our people … .
I welcome this chance to further strengthen the unbreakable ties between the United States and Israel and to assure you of our commitment to Israel’s security and well-being.
Israel and America may be thousands of miles apart, but we are philosophical neighbors sharing a strong commitment to democracy and the rule of law. What we hold in common are the bonds of trust and friendship, qualities that in our eyes make Israel a great nation. No people have fought longer, struggled harder, or sacrificed more than yours in order to survive, to grow, and to live in freedom … .
Shalom, shalom: to him that is far off and to him that is near. And again, Mr. Prime Minister, welcome to America.1
Reagan’s sentiments are by no means unique among the American presidents. Every one of our presidents in office since 1948 has made similarly noteworthy remarks about Israel—whether they fully believed them, or even understood the implications of what they were saying.2
What is perhaps even more interesting, however, is to track the historical evidence of America’s blessing of Israel and concern for the Jewish people back to a point long before the modern state of Israel declared her independence.3
In terms of our Constitutional republic, America’s support for Israel and the Jewish people can be traced to our very first president, George Washington, who famously wrote in his Letter to the Hebrew Congregations of Newport, Rhode Island that:
It is now no more that toleration is spoken of as if it were the indulgence of one class of people that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights, for, happily, the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens in giving it on all occasions their effectual support … .
May the children of the stock of Abraham who dwell in this land continue to merit and enjoy the good will of the other inhabitants—while every one shall sit in safety under his own vine and fig tree and there shall be none to make him afraid.4
Much later, America would, of course, play a pivotal role in welcoming the re-established state of Israel onto the world stage in 1948. Our 33rd president, Harry S. Truman, stated before the Conference of the National Jewish Welfare Board, on Oct. 17, 1952: “I am proud of my part in the creation of this new state. Our Government was the first to recognize the State of Israel.”5
This trend of showing support for Israel continues down to the present administration of our 45th president, Donald J. Trump.
President Trump evokes strong responses from all sectors of society, on many different levels. One thing that appears to be clear in this administration, however, is its open support of the Jewish people and the nation of Israel. Several well-known episodes—the foremost one being the opening of the American embassy in Jerusalem on May 14, 2018—highlight this fact.6
There is clearly a pattern of America’s leaders blessing Israel—to one degree or another. Many have conjectured that this is largely the reason that America continues to enjoy the freedom and prosperity that we still have today.
When God called Abram to come to a new land of promise, He summarized His unconditional covenant with Abram and Sarai’s yet-unborn descendants with these solemn words: “I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse” (Gen. 12:3, ESV).
There is no question that America has blessed Israel for the past 243 years. The real question is: Are you a blessing to Israel?
Dear Christian friend, you do not have to wait for a presidential proclamation to bless Israel. You can be a blessing to the people of Israel today! May the Lord reward you for doing so, in accord with His ancient promises.
Reposted, with permission, from the Friends of Israel Blog.
1 “Ronald Reagan Administration: Remarks at Welcoming Ceremony for Israeli PM Menahem Begin (September 9, 1981);” <https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/president-reagan-remarks-at-welcomi… Internet; accessed 26 June 2019.
2 For additional quotations and documentation, see “U.S. Presidents & Israel: Quotes About Jewish Homeland & Israel”; <https://jewishvirtuallibrary.org/u-s-presidential-quotes-about-jewish-ho… Internet; accessed 26 June 2019.
3 Consider, for instance, the incredibly interesting words of our sixth president, John Quincy Adams, who declared his support for the “rebuilding of Judea as an independent nation” (ibid.). Abraham Lincoln, our 16th president, characterized the return of Jewish people to their homeland as “a noble dream and one shared by many Americans” (ibid.)
4 “George Washington and his Letter to the Jews of Newport”; <https://www.tourosynagogue.org/history-learning/gw-letter>; Internet; accessed 26 June 2019.
5 “U.S. Presidents & Israel: Quotes About Jewish Homeland & Israel”; <https://jewishvirtuallibrary.org/u-s-presidential-quotes-about-jewish-ho… Internet; accessed 26 June 2019. For a much more complete treatment of Truman’s role in the declaration of Israelite independence, see Elwood McQuaid, It Is No Dream: Israel: Prophecy and History—The Whole Story (Bellmawr, N.J.: The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry, Inc., 2019), pp. 103-105.
6 For more on this topic, see Jim Showers, “Statement on the U.S. Recognition of Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel”; <https://www.foi.org/2017/12/07/statement-u-s-recognition-jerusalem-capit… Internet; accessed 26 June 2019.
Paul J. Scharf (M.A., M.Div., Faith Baptist Theological Seminary) is a church ministries representative for The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry, serving in the midwest. He also assists Whitcomb Ministries and writes for “Answers” Magazine and Regular Baptist Press. For more information on his ministry, visit foi.org/scharf or email firstname.lastname@example.org.