Shavou'ot (Pentecost) highlights US-Israel relations

Ambassador (ret.) Yoram Ettinger, "Second Thought: US-Israel Initiative" 
"Israel Hayom", May 22, 2015, 

The US-Israel relations have experienced many crises, beginning with the Department of State's opposition to the establishment of the Jewish State in 1948, the Department of State-inspired 1948/49 military embargo (while the British supplied arms to Egypt, Jordan and Iraq), and Foggy Bottom's sustained refusal to recognize any part of Jerusalem as an Israeli territory.

However, since 1949, the US-Israel crises have always been "V"-shaped (quick to deteriorate and quick to rebound), not "U"-shaped (quick to deteriorate and prolonged to rebound), due to the healthy foundation of the bilateral relationship – as reflected by the attitudes of the American people and Congress - which transcend the Palestinian issue, the Arab-Israeli conflict, Israel's bombing of Iraq's nuclear reactor, Iran, etc..

The foundations of US-Israel relations were forged by the Bible-inspired Pilgrims of the 17th century and the Judeo-Christian-driven Founding Fathers of the 18th century, preceding the evolution of the organized Jewish community, the Holocaust, the establishment of Israel and the appearance of AIPAC on the American scene. These foundations have nurtured a covenant between the American people – and their state and federal representatives - and the Jewish State, which has accorded Israel a unique standing: a foreign, but also a value-driven domestic issue.

The holiday of Shavou'ot (Pentecost) – which commemorates the receipt of the Torah (the Five Books of Moses) and the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai some 3,500 years ago - sheds light on the key values of the Pilgrims and the Founding Fathers, which had a profound impact on the US Constitution, the Bill of Rights, Separation of Powers (Moses, Aharon, the 70 Elders, the tribal Presidents), Checks and Balances, the requirement that the chief executive must be a native, that the capital city (Jerusalem and Washington, DC) does not belong to any tribe/state, the abolitionist movement ("Let My People Go/Go Down Moses") and the general public discourse in the USA.  

The British philosopher, John Locke, whose writings were the basis for the US Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution, stated that "The Bible is one of the greatest blessings bestowed by God on the children of men." Locke wanted the 613 Statutes of Moses to become the legal foundation of the Carolinas, in particular, and the new society in America, in general. Abraham Lincoln's famous 1863 quote - "government of the people, by the people, for the people" – paraphrased a statement made by the 14th century British philosopher and translator of the Bible, John Wycliffe: "The Bible is a book of the people, by the people, for the people."

Shavou'ot is celebrated 50 days following Passover, and Pentecost – a derivative of the Greek word for 50 - is celebrated 50 days following Easter.  It is the holiday of liberty/Exodus, which has played a key role in shaping the American story, including the War of Independence against the British Crown and the Black struggle against slavery. The Liberty Bell bears a Biblical inscription: "Proclaim liberty upon the earth and unto all the inhabitants thereof (Leviticus25:10)," which refers to the Jubilee – the cornerstone of the Biblical concept of liberty – commemorated every 50 years. According to Judaism, there are 50gates to wisdom, studied during the 50 days between Passover and Shavou'ot, challenged by the 50 gates of impurity. The 50th gate of wisdom is the gate of liberty – a cardinal value in the culture of the 50 states in the union.

Shavou'ot is the holiday of "the Constitution of the Seven," according to the Hebrew acronym of the seven names of Shavou'ot: the holiday of the fiftieth (חמישים), the harvest (קציר), the Torah (תורה), Shavou'ot (שבועות), the offerings (בכורים), the rally (עצרת), the assembly (הקהל) – "the Constitution of the Seven" (חקת שבעה in Hebrew).

Shavou'ot is the second of the three Jewish pilgrimages (Sukkot/Feast of Tabernacles, Passover and Shavou'ot), expressing the 3,500 year old trilateral linkage between the Land of Israel (Abraham), the Torah of Israel (Moses) and the people of Israel (united by King David).  According to King Solomon, "a triple-braided cord is not easily broken" (Ecclesiastes 4:12). Abraham, Moses ("the humblest of all human beings," Numbers 12:3) and David are the role models of humility - a human trait that is highlighted in the Bible as a prerequisite for leadership.

It has been customary to pave the road from Passover to Shavou'ot by studying the six brief chapters of The Ethics of the Fathers, a second century compilation of Jewish ethical teachings, sayings and proverbs such as: "Conditional love is tenuous; unconditional love is eternal." Similarly, Israel is the only unconditional Middle Eastern ally of the US, reciprocating the value-driven unconditional identification of the American people with the Jewish State.