On midnight, May 14, 1948, the state of Israel came into being and was immediately recognized by the United States and the Soviet Union.
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A homeland for the thousands of Jews who were persecuted and displaced during World War II, Israel was attacked the next day by the Transjordanian Army, the Arab Legion, Egypt, Syria, Lebanon and Iraq. Against all odds, Israel survived.
The Armistice between Israel and her enemies was negotiated by Ralph Bunche, the first African-American to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. In 1947, Ralph Bunche set up a meeting between two members of UNSCOP and Menachem Begin, the leader of the Irgun Jewish underground.
As he was leaving Begin's hideout, Ralph Bunche told the future Israeli Prime Minister: "I can understand you. I am also a member of a persecuted minority."
Richard Crossman of Britain asked Bunche if his exposure to the Jews had made him anti-Semitic "yet." Ralph Bunche answered: "That would be impossible. ... I know the flavor of racial prejudice and racial persecution. A wise Negro can never be an anti-Semite."
President Harry S Truman sent a telegram to the president of Israel, Dr. Chaim Weizmann, president of the Provisional Council of State, Tel Aviv, Oct. 2, 1948: "On this your first New Year's Eve as president of the Provisional Council of the state of Israel I send you warm personal greetings and congratulations. May the New Year bring peace to Israel and to its citizens the opportunity to dedicate themselves in tranquility to furthering the prosperity of their country."
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On Nov. 29, 1948, President Harry S Truman wrote to Dr. Chaim Weizmann, the first president of Israel: "I want to tell you how happy and impressed I have been at the remarkable progress made by the new state of Israel."
Truman added: "I remember well our conversations about the Negeb ... and I deplore any attempt to take it away from Israel. I had thought that my position would have been clear to all the world, particularly in the light of the specific wording of the Democratic Party platform."
The 1948 Democrat Party platform stated: "President Truman, by granting immediate recognition to Israel, led the world in extending friendship and welcome to a people who have long sought and justly deserve freedom and independence. We pledge full recognition to the state of Israel. We affirm our pride that the United States under the leadership of President Truman played a leading role in the adoption of the resolution of November 29, 1947, by the United Nations General Assembly for the creation of a Jewish state. We approve the claims of the state of Israel to the boundaries set forth in the United Nations resolution of November 29th and consider that modifications thereof should be made only if fully acceptable to the state of Israel. We look forward to the admission of the state of Israel to the United Nations and its full participation in the international community of nations. We pledge appropriate aid to the state of Israel in developing its economy and resources. We favor the revision of the arms embargo to accord to the state of Israel the right of self-defense."
President Harry S Truman continued his letter to Israel's President Dr. Chaim Weizmann, Nov. 29, 1948: "I have interpreted my re-election as a mandate from the American people to carry out the Democratic platform – including, of course, the plank on Israel."
Democrat President John F. Kennedy remarked opening the Ouachita National Forest Road at Big Cedar, Oklahoma, Oct. 29, 1961: "We take our lesson ... from the Bible and the story of Nehemiah, which tells us that when the children of Israel returned from captivity they determined to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, in spite of the threats of the enemy. The wall was built and the peace was preserved. But it was written, 'Of them that built on the wall ... with one of his hands he did the work, and with the other he held the sword.'"
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Democrat President Lyndon B. Johnson stated in 1968: "America and Israel have a common love of human freedom and a democratic way of life. ... Through the centuries, through dispersion and through very grievous trials, your forefathers clung to their Jewish identity and their ties with the land of Israel. The prophet Isaiah foretold, 'And He shall set up an ensign for the nations and He shall assemble the outcasts of Israel and gather together the dispersed of Judah from all the four corners of the earth.' ... History knows no more moving example of persistence against the cruelest odds."
Ancient Israel came out of Egypt, around 1,400 B.C. and entered the Promised Land. For the next 400 years, the Children of Israel were the first well-recorded instance in history of a nation ruled without a king.
This was a model for America's founders. After the U.S. Constitution was written, it needed to be ratified by nine states to go into effect. In early 1788, eight states had ratified it, and New Hampshire was in line to be the ninth, but disagreements caused its ratifying convention to be adjourned in February of that year.
After the annual day of fasting, set by New Hampshire's governor, state delegates reconvened in June of 1788. They listened to an address on June 5, 1788, by Harvard President Rev. Samuel Langdon, titled "The Republic of the Israelites an Example to the American States." Afterwards, New Hampshire delegates voted to ratify the U.S. Constitution, and being the ninth state to do so, put it into effect.
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In his address, Samuel Langdon stated: "Instead of the twelve tribes of Israel, we may substitute the thirteen states of the American union, and see this application plainly. ... That as God in the course of his kind providence hath given you an excellent Constitution of government, founded on the most rational, equitable, and liberal principles, by which all that liberty is secured ... and you are impowered to make righteous laws for promoting public order and good morals; and as he has moreover given you by his Son Jesus Christ ... a complete revelation of his will ... it will be your wisdom ... to ... adhere faithfully to the doctrines and commands of the gospel, and practice every public and private virtue. ..."
Langdon continued: "The Israelites may be considered as a pattern to the world in all ages. ... Government ... on republican principles, required laws; without which it must have degenerated immediately into ... absolute monarchy. ... How unexampled was this quick progress of the Israelites, from abject slavery, ignorance, and almost total want of order, to a national establishment perfected in all its parts far beyond all other kingdoms and states! From a mere mob, to a well regulated nation, under a government and laws far superior to what any other nation could boast! ..."
Langdon concluded: "It was a long time after the law of Moses was given before the rest of the world knew any thing of government by law. ... It was six hundred years after Moses before ... Grecian republics received a very imperfect ... code of laws from Lycurgus. It was about five hundred years from the first founding of the celebrated Roman empire ... before the first laws of that empire."
Ancient Israel is highlighted in the new book "Who is the King in America? And Who are the Counselors to the King? An Overview of 6,000 Years of History & Why America is Unique."
What was the republic of the ancient Israelites?
- Israel was the first well-recorded instance of an entire nation ruled without a king.
- In Israel, everyone was equal under the Law. There was no royal family to pay obeisance to at this time. This was the beginning of the concept of equality.
- In Israel, everyone, both male and female, was made in the image of the Creator, possessing God-given rights which no government could take away. It was the responsibility of government to guarantee individual rights. Deuteronomy 1:17 "Ye shall not respect persons in judgment; but ye shall hear the small as well as the great."
- Israel had relatively few laws, as citizens were accountable to God to treat each other fairly. Leviticus 19:18 "You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against your kinsfolk. Love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord."
- Israel treated non-Israelites as equals, though the immigrants had to abide by the Law. Leviticus 19:34 "The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as one of your citizens; you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I the Lord am your God."
- Israel was tolerant. Though convinced they were worshiping the only true God, they never waged war to force other nations to accept Him, nor did they force non-Israelites living within their borders to convert. John Locke wrote in "A Letter Concerning Toleration" (1689): "Foreigners and such as were strangers to the commonwealth of Israel were not compelled by force to observe the rites of the Mosaical law... We find not one man forced into the Jewish religion and the worship of the true God. ... If any one ... desired to be made a denizen [citizen] of their commonwealth ... to embrace their religion ... this he did willingly, on his own accord, not by constraint."
- Israel had a system of honesty, thus providing a basis for commerce. Leviticus 19:36 "Just balances, just weights, a just ephah, and a just hin, shall ye have." Proverbs 11:1 "A false balance is abomination to the Lord: but a just weight is his delight."
- In Israel, land was permanently titled to the families. This contrasted with most of the world, where kings granted land to loyal vassals, or as in Egypt, where the pharaohs owned the land. Israel called it the Promised "Land" because the people actually owned title to their land. This prevented a dictator from gathering up the land and putting the people back into slavery. If a person owned land, they could accumulate possessions. The Bible called this being "blessed"; Karl Marx called it being a "capitalist."
- Israel had a bureaucracy-free welfare system. When someone harvested their field, they left the gleanings for the poor. This way, the poor were taken care of without some political leader collecting everything and doling it back out to those who could help him stay in power.
- Israel had no police. Everyone was taught the Law, and everyone was personally accountable to enforce it. It was as if everyone in the nation was "deputized."
- Israel had no prisons. The Law required swift justice at the "gates of the city" and a "city of refuge" where fugitives could flee to await trial.
- Israel had no standing army, as every man was in the militia, armed, and ready at a moment's notice to defend his family and community.
- Israel was the first nation where everyone was taught to read. At the time in history when Moses and the Children of Israel left Egypt:
- the Hittite language had 375 cuneiform characters
- the Indus Valley Harappan language had 417 symbols
- the Luwian language of Anatolian had over 500 logographic hieroglyphs
- the Akkadian language in Mesopotamia had over 1,500 Sumerian cuneiform characters
- the Egyptian language had over 3,000 hieroglyphic characters
- the Chinese language had nearly 10,000 pictogram and ideogram characters, invented by scribes of China's Yellow Emperor
When Moses came down from Mount Sinai, he not only had the Ten Commandments, but he had them in a 22 character alphabet. ("Aleph" is the first letter in Hebrew and "beth" is the second.) With so few characters, everyone could learn to read, even children.
Israel's priests and Levites taught the Law, and also taught the people how to read it for themselves. It was not just a privilege to read it, they were required to, as the law was addressed to each person who was personally accountable to God obey it.
In Ancient Egypt, the literacy rate was less than one percent. The National Archaeological Museum in Athens, Greece, in its section on Egyptian Artifacts, has a display on "Scribes," stating: "Only a small percentage of ancient Egypt's population was literate, namely the pharaoh, members of the royal family, officials, priests and scribes."
Scribes wrote on stone or clay sherds, wooden boards, linen, papyrus, and parchment. Scribes kept writing complicated to enhance their job security. It was their secret knowledge. They were needed to decipher the cryptic hieroglyphs.
The ruling class used complicated writing to maintain control over uneducated masses. Anthropologist Claude Levi Strauss (1908-2009), wrote: "Ancient writing's main function was to facilitate the enslavement of other human beings."
George Orwell wrote in "Nineteen Eighty-Four": "In the long run, a hierarchical society was only possible on a basis of poverty and ignorance."
- In Israel, the people chose their own leaders. Honest elections allowed for government by the consent of the governed.
Deuteronomy 1:3-13: "Moses spoke unto the children of Israel ... How can I myself alone bear your ... burden. ... Take you wise men, and understanding, and known among your tribes, and I will make them rulers over you."
Deuteronomy 16:18-19: "Judges and officers shalt thou make thee in all thy gates which the Lord thy God giveth thee throughout thy tribes."
Exodus 18:21 stated: "Moreover thou shalt provide out of all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them, to be rulers of thousands, and rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens."
Rather than a pyramid style, top-down form of government where the king's will is law, Israel had a bottom-up form of government, like a living tree drawing nutrients from the roots, where every cell contributes to its growth.
Anyone could be raised to leadership, as there was no hereditary monarchy: Jephthah was the son of a prostitute; Gideon was from an obscure family; and Deborah was a just and courageous woman who knew the law.
Israel was truly unique. E.C. Wines wrote in "Commentaries on the laws of the Ancient Hebrews, with an Introductory Essay on Civil Society & Government" (NY: Geo. P. Putnam & Co., 1853): "Menes in Egypt; Minos in Crete; Cadmus in Thebes; Lycurgus in Sparta; Zaleucus in Locris; and Numa in Rome. But ... Moses differed fundamentally from ... these heathen legislators. ... Moses' ... national unity ... was not that species of unity, which the world has since so often seen, in which vast multitudes of human beings are delivered up to the arbitrary will of one man. It was a unity, effected by the abolition of caste; a unity, founded on the principle of equal rights; a unity, in which the whole people formed the state."
In regards to Israel, former Democrat President Jimmy Carter stated in his book "Keeping the Faith – Memoirs of a President" (published 1982, p. 274): "The Judeo-Christian ethic and study of the Bible were bonds between Jews and Christians which had always been part of my life. I also believed very deeply that the Jews who had survived the Holocaust deserved their own nation, and that they had a right to live in peace among their neighbors. I considered this homeland for the Jews to be compatible with the teachings of the Bible, hence ordained by God. These moral and religious beliefs made my commitment to the security of Israel unshakable."
On March 23, 1982, to the National Conference of Christians and Jews, New York, President Ronald Reagan stated: "A strong, credible America is also an indispensable incentive for a peaceful resolution of differences between Israel and her neighbors. America has never flinched from its commitment to the state of Israel-a commitment which remains unshakable."
On Dec. 10, 2001, President George Bush remarked at the White House lighting of the menorah: "And as God promised Abraham, the people of Israel still live. ... America and Israel have been through much together. ... We're reminded of the ancient story of Israel's courage and of the power of faith to make the darkness bright. We can see the heroic spirit of the Maccabees lives on in Israel today."
In April 3, 2002, House Majority Whip Tom DeLay mentioned Israel in an address at Westminster College: "No one can ignore the horrible aggression in the Middle East. ... The state of Israel has been targeted by groups committed to her complete elimination. And on the basis of our shared principles and democratic values, America has an undeniable obligation to stand squarely with our democratic ally against those attempting to end the state of Israel. ... The state of Israel has fought five major wars to defend its right to exist since 1948. ..."
Congressman DeLay continued: "Israel and America are kindred nations. The founders of both countries were profoundly influenced by faith. Both countries drafted governments that practice religious tolerance. ... Both countries are filled with immigrants summoned by dreams. For people fleeing the storms of persecution, both countries have been safe harbors. ..."
Congressman DeLay concluded: "No one should expect the people of Israel to negotiate with groups pursuing the fundamental goal of destroying them. ... America has a clear duty to stand beside a democratic ally that is besieged by terrorists. ... The terrorists attempting to destroy the State of Israel should know that America will never allow that to happen."
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