Moses of Texas: President Bush, the Bible and Israel
Ynet, January 23, 2001
The Bible and Judeo-Christian values have played a major role in shaping the state of mind of President George W. Bush and his wife Laura, as well as their positive gut feeling toward Israel.
At a January 21, 2001 Senate reception for President Bush, he was introduced by Senator Mitch McConnell as a leader who follows in the footsteps of Joshua and Kalev [the two courageous Jewish leaders, who adhered to faith, conviction and long-term strategy, rather than to short-term convenience and “pragmatism.”]. During a January 21 sermon at a Washington DC church, Bush was compared to King David, “who united the Jewish Nation, leading them during the strongest ever chapter in Jewish history.” And, Marc Craig, Bush’s personal pastor at the AustinUnitedMethodistChurch, compared the president to “Moses who just crossed The River, leading his People to the Mountain and from there to the Promised Land.”
President Bush’s deeply-held belief and values – despite changing political considerations – constitutes a unique opportunity for
Israel. President Bush’s view of the Land of Israel as the cradle of shared Judeo-Christian values could soften disagreements with Israel. It could, also, mellow the impact of some advisors who have been critical of Israel, thus strengthening the Commander-In-Chief’s recognition of the joint interests and mutual threats, binding together the leader of the Free World and its sole soul ally in the Mideast.
While President Bush credits his wife Laura, and his religious faith, with the crucial transformation in his life, from Dolce Vita to a meteoric success in the public and political arena, he is not a religious fanatic. His approach toward religion is representative of most Americans. According to a New York Times poll, published on December 7, 1997, 96% of the US public believes in God, 90% pray a few times annually, 41% attends church on Sunday, 63% (43% in 1947) say Grace, 93% of US households possess at least one copy of the Bible and 33% of US households read the Bible at least once a week. The Tennessee publisher, Thomas Nelson, sells about 8 million copies of the bible each year. And, there are 257 religious TV stations in the US, compared with 9 in 1974. These data puts President Bush as the head of one of the most religious nations in the Free World!
The 43rd President considers himself a successor of Thomas Jefferson, a principle-driven role model of harmony and moderation. Jefferson, and other Founding Fathers, referred to the American revolutionaries as the 1776 Israelites, to the British rule as Pharaoh and to America as the 1776 Promised Land. Furthermore, Jefferson proposed that the official seal of the AmericanRepublic would be the parting of the Red Sea. Benjamin Franklin, who studied Hebrew, suggested that the inscription on the seal would be in Hebrew. In denouncing the Tea Act, Benjamin Rush stated: “What shining examples of Patriotism do we behold in Joshua, Samuel, Maccabeus and all the illustrious princes, captains and prophets among the Jews.” The successors of the Founding Fathers have recently issued, annually, Chanukah and Christmas stamps.
The Old Testament – and particularly the legacy of Moses – has played a major role in the shaping of the world view of the Founding Fathers, religiously, socially, judicially and politically, including the concepts of Separation of Powers, Checks and Balances and the Bill of Rights. In fact, “Proclaim liberty throughout the land to all the inhabitants thereof” (Leviticus, 25, 10) was engraved, by the People of Pennsylvania upon the Liberty Bell.
The decision to locate the capital of the US outside the territory of the individual States, was influenced by the precedent of Jerusalem, which was located outside the territory of the individual 12 Jewish tribes. A marble plaque of Moses’ face features in Congress, which opens its daily business with a morning prayer, conducted by its Chaplain. Moreover, on June 17, 1999 a 248:180 majority of the House of Representatives approved a bill, which would allow the display of the Ten Commandments in public schools and public buildings, as a means to curtail youth violence. President Bush, as did all his predecessors, concludes his speeches with “God Bless America,” and the motto “In God We Trust” is printed on the US dollar bill.
President Bush, just like most Americans, does not regard Israel as a typical foreign policy issue. They view Israel as a special valued ally, deeply rooted in the American tradition. Such an affinity between the two Peoples constitutes a major reservoir of support, for Israel, as well as a viable foundation for an effective strategic alliance in face of mutual threats.