I’m a lifelong New Yorker, and though my feet and body remain planted in my hometown, my heart and soul belong to the Jewish homeland: Israel.
Over the years, I have watched with awe as the vulnerable Jewish state of my childhood has evolved into the mighty nation it is today. Israel’s military is the strongest in the Middle East. Its economic prowess and capacity for innovation are revered around the world.
But Israel cannot thrive on military force or economic vitality alone. Its friends and allies play a critical role in fortifying its position on the global stage, ensuring that it remains a democratic light in a sea of authoritarian darkness.
No ally has supported Israel more decisively or more loyally from its first days of independence than the United States. The bond between the two countries is rooted in shared values: an uncompromising dedication to democracy, civil rights, press freedom and free speech. We are both committed to sharing our knowledge, experience and technology with the wider world.
And we look to each other for support. Just as Israel is America’s most steadfast friend in a volatile region, the United States has been an unshakeable supporter of Israel, using its strength around the globe and veto power at the U.N. Security Council to stand up for the Jewish state.
Israel and the United States have also long been partners in the struggle against extremism and terrorism—from the hijacking and diversion to Tel Aviv of a Sabena aircraft and the famous rescue at Entebbe in the 1970s to the struggle of the United States against Saddam Hussein, Osama bin Laden and now, Islamic State.
The special connection and powerful covenant between the United States and Israel has survived crises, pitfalls and disagreements, thanks to the strong foundation upon which it rests.
Over the past two years, under President Donald Trump’s leadership, the U.S.-Israel alliance has been significantly strengthened. The promise to transfer the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem has finally been realized, affirming that Jerusalem is the eternal capital of Israel. By recognizing the Golan Heights as part of the state of Israel, President Trump made clear his resolute support for Israeli sovereignty and helped ensure its safety from attacks by Hezbollah.
The alliance has been strengthened, too, by sanctions against Iran, led by President Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has been leading the fight against the evil aims of the ayatollahs’ regime for years. The longstanding and uncompromising American guarantee for Israel’s security and the preservation of the Israel Defense Forces’ qualitative advantage on the battlefield remains a vital part of our relationship.
Nevertheless, our growing alliance requires nourishment. Future generations should be aware of its importance and find new dimensions to add to it. They must ensure that it transcends political divides, and that its foundation is strong enough to weather any storm.
Even as anti-Semitism is on the rise around the world, I know our alliance is strong enough to counter it. Even as some in the new generation lose touch with what makes Israel exceptional, I know our alliance is strong enough to educate them. Even as enemies of Israel and America gather their forces and attempt to undermine our values and deprive us of our freedoms, I know our alliance is strong enough to overcome them.
The partnership between Israel and the United States is important not only to the citizens of Israel, to American Jewry and to Americans overall. It is essential to all of humanity—to the safety and security of our world.
As a Jew, as an American and as a passionate defender of the Jewish State of Israel, that immense value makes me very proud and leaves me more determined than ever to do my part to ensure our alliance thrives for generations to come.
Ronald S. Lauder is president of the World Jewish Congress.
This article first appeared in Israel Hayom.