Saturday, May 9, 2009



5/9/09 - I'm sitting in Kennedy Airport in NYC awaiting my flight to Israel. In 2004, as founder and chairman of the Utah Chapter of the America Israel Friendship Leauge, I invited the then Israeli Ambassador to the United States, Danny Ayalon to Utah. While here, he invited Governor Huntsman to lead a Trade Mission to Israel it begins today. This will be the first of a daily post from the Holy Land. Since we won't arrive in Tel Aviv until Sunday afternoon, for my first post, I copying my journal entry from my last trip to Israel as part of a fact finding mission at the completion of the war in Lebanon. Two days ago I sent out a tweet that nine attorneys general and I had sent a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton condemning Hamas for committing "war crimes" with bomb attacks on civilian targets in southern Israel, and defending Israel's right to defend itself. Read about our letter at:

Sadly not much has changed since my last trip, and therefore, I think my2006 post is a fitting prologue to this trip. It begins on September 11, 2006:

Five years ago today terrorists attacked America and awoke a sleeping giant to the reality that radical Islamic Jihadists had declared war on all infidels. It is a war that began when the British pulled out of Palestine, and expolded on May 14, 1948, the day that David Ben-Gurion declared the birth of a democratic nation in the Middle East. Millions of Arabs massed to “push the Jews into the sea and soak the land with their blood.” Israelis have not known peace from that day on. Terror has filled their days and fear their nights. In the spirit of Friedrich Nietzsche’s famous quote “that which does not kill us makes us stronger,” Israelis pulled together with nationalistic pride, solidarity and faith and did not just survive – but prospered.

Eleven minutes after the Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel at 6 o'clock PM (Washington D.C. time) the
USA became the first country to formally recognize the State of Israel. But that wasn’t the beginning of our alliance. From the moment that first GI Joe cut the locks and opened the gates to the liberation of the survivors of the Holocaust, Americans and the Children of Israel have been locked together as “Partners in Democracy.”[1] In the sixty years since that moment, our alliance has been tested, the bonds have been stretched and our friendship often challenged. But because of our common commitment to freedom and peace, democracy is alive and well and forevermore firmly rooted in the State of Israel.

Today I sat in the Newark, N.J. “Liberty” Airport waiting for my El Al flight. Looking out the window across the Hudson river I had a clear view of the New York City skyline. There was the Empire State Building. It is the most famous and recognizable skyline in the world. But five years ago it changed forever, and is now not so easily identifiable. So how have Americans responded to our “involuntary enlistment” into the War on Terror? Before 9/11 we had grown lazy, selfish and complacent. We did not appreciate our freedom, prosperity and safety. All that changed with the flames and smoke and screams of that awful morning. American naiveté was swallowed up in the choking avalanche of dust that down the canyons of Manhattan that fateful morning. But what emerged from the settling dust was the natal heartbeat of America. Patriotism, community and service were reborn and ALL Americans wept, then prayed, then cheered, when President Bush, standing atop the twisted metal consecrated by its fusion with the sacrifice of so many innocents, boldly and spontaneously proclaimed to our collective soul: “I hear you, and the world hears you. And the people who knocked down those buildings are going to hear from all of us soon!"

A scant five years later and despite decisive victories that have kept the terrorists occupied “over there” so they can’t hurt us “over here,” our country is torn nearly in half. It is being ripped apart, not by Jidhadists bent on our destruction, but by Americans split on party and ideological lines with a hatred and viciousness previously reserved only for our deadliest enemies.

As the blue Star of David of the Israeli flag on the wing of our jet passed that diminished New York skyline I asked myself: “What am I looking for in Israel? What is there to learn? How can what I’m about to experience over the next week benefit those I serve?”

I hoped to find the answer in the mission. I’m looking to one of our strongest allies; an oasis of democracy and freedom in a desert of despotism and repression; a light on a hill that cannot be hid; an example of solidarity and national resolve to win a war on terror for nearly sixty years. I believe there is much we can learn from them. As the massive tires of the 747 left the soil of America and I watched the Big Apple grow small and disappear, I couldn’t help but wonder, “what becomes of us if Israel fails her latest test?”

[1] "America is now at Israel’s cradle – virtually as its mother. As such it has a high responsibility… there is much nursing and nurturing to be done to make the new nation live and grow to fulfill the two-thousands year old dream, hope and prayer of the Children of Israel." -Letter to President Harry S. Truman from Rabbi Samuel Thurman of the United Hebrew Congregation, May 17, 1948.

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