George Washington’s Other Letter to the Jews

The first American president’s letter to the Jews of Newport is justly celebrated, but it was not the only reply to a Jewish leader he wrote at the time—a testament, Meir Soloveichik, observes, to U.S. Jewry’s characteristic disunity. In his earlier missive to Levi Sheftall of Savannah, Washington evoked “the same wonder-working Deity” who delivered “the Hebrews from their Egyptian Oppressors” and “whose providential agency has lately been conspicuous in establishing these United States.” Soloveichik comments:

What [Washington tells the Jews of Savannah] is that he sees the tale of the Exodus and of America as parallel: the God Who performed miracles for Jews in the past is the same Deity Who performed miracles for America in the present. The God Who saved Israel from tyranny saved America from tyranny as well. The Jews were to be welcomed in America not only because of the ideals of equality, but also because of the way in which the Jewish story inspired America itself.

The two letters need to be taken in tandem. Washington’s words to Newport’s Jews express the idea of American equality, but it is Washington’s letter to Savannah that reminds us how the Founders revered the Jewish story and sought succor from the Jewish faith.

The story of Washington’s letters is instructive as American Jews confront the specter of anti-Israel Jew-hate in the United States. It is right to emphasize . . . that bigotry toward any community in America is un-American, and to cite Washington in making that case. But it is also vital to stress what is also learned from the words that Washington himself composed: the deep and long-lasting bond between Judaism and the American idea, and therefore the deep antipathy of Israel-haters for America.

Read more at Commentary

More about: American founding, American Jewish History, George Washington

Why Egypt Fears an Israeli Victory in Gaza

While the current Egyptian president, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, has never been friendly to Hamas, his government has objected strenuously to the Israeli campaign in the southernmost part of the Gaza Strip. Haisam Hassanein explains why:

Cairo has long been playing a double game, holding Hamas terrorists near while simultaneously trying to appear helpful to the United States and Israel. Israel taking control of Rafah threatens Egypt’s ability to exploit the chaos in Gaza, both to generate profits for regime insiders and so Cairo can pose as an indispensable mediator and preserve access to U.S. money and arms.

Egyptian security officials have looked the other way while Hamas and other Palestinian militants dug tunnels on the Egyptian-Gaza border. That gave Cairo the ability to use the situation in Gaza as a tool for regional influence and to ensure Egypt’s role in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict would not be eclipsed by regional competitors such as Qatar and Turkey.

Some elements close to the Sisi regime have benefited from Hamas control over Gaza and the Rafah crossing. Media reports indicate an Egyptian company run by one of Sisi’s close allies is making hundreds of millions of dollars by taxing Gazans fleeing the current conflict.

Moreover, writes Judith Miller, the Gaza war has been a godsend to the entire Egyptian economy, which was in dire straits last fall. Since October 7, the International Monetary Fund has given the country a much-needed injection of cash, since the U.S. and other Western countries believe it is a necessary intermediary and stabilizing force. Cairo therefore sees the continuation of the war, rather than an Israeli victory, as most desirable. Hassanein concludes:

Adding to its financial incentive, the Sisi regime views the Rafah crossing as a crucial card in preserving Cairo’s regional standing. Holding it increases Egypt’s relevance to countries that want to send aid to the Palestinians and ensures Washington stays quiet about Egypt’s gross human-rights violations so it can maintain a stable flow of U.S. assistance and weaponry. . . . No serious effort to turn the page on Hamas will yield the desired results without cutting this umbilical cord between the Sisi regime and Hamas.

Read more at Washington Examiner

More about: Egypt, Gaza War 2023, U.S. Foreign policy