If you missed “Why Won’t Obama Talk to Israel?” by Haaretz editor Aluf Benn, in Tuesday’s NY Times, click here. It is important to read because it raises many issues. For example: what is a self-hating Jew? Does it include anyone who is critical of Israel? It appears to be very dismissive of many American Jews who love Israel but do not agree with Natanyahu. On the other hand, Aluf Benn does raise a serious question, why is Obama not speaking directly to Israelis?
In this post I have included two responses to this article: one, from J. Zel Lurie, and the other from Meretz USA Chair, Theo Bikel. First, here is J. Zel Lurie’s letter to the editor:
Yes, President Obama should talk to the Israeli people. He should explain to them that seven years ago the government of Ariel Sharon accepted the Road Map to a Palestine State presented to them and to the Palestine Authority by the Quartet, the United states, Russia. the European Union and the United Nations.
In the First Phase of the Road Map the Palestinians agreed to combat terror and the Israelis agreed to a freeze of settlement activity and to eradicate the settlement outposts erected since 2001. The Palestinians have fulfilled their part. A new Palestinian security force trained in Jordan by the United States General Drayton and subsidized by the American taxpayer has taken over the Palestinian cities from the Israel Army.
It is now up to Israel to fulfill its part of the bargain. It must freeze the settlements and begin to eradicate the illegal outposts. It can no longer rely on the fiction “natural growth” under which the population of the settlements were increased by almost a third since the Road Map was agreed to seven long years ago.
And here is Theo Bikel’s response:
Aluf Benn got at least one thing right: “If Israel is part of the problem, then Israel must be part of the solution.” (Op-Ed 7/28) However much may be required of the Palestinians in this process, the single most glaring obstacles on the Israeli side are the settlements. Freezing all building in the West Bank is only a first step but it is the sine qua non in any movement toward a resolution. In continuing the Clinton initiative Barack Obama is doing exactly what needs to be done. Clearly, the two state solution is still the only hope on the horizon, although it is becoming more elusive. It is in Israel’s self interest that this go forward, it is in the Palestinians’ self interest; and it is certainly in America’s. Palestinian extremists stand in the way, so do Israeli extremists; I have no sympathy for either or for those here at home who support them.
What upsets me when I hear fellow Jews speak disparagingly about Barack Obama is this: The presidency of the United States is an awesome task that involves decisions both domestic and foreign that have far reaching consequences for the lives of millions around the globe. Even if he were wrong (which I believe he is not) I am embarrassed when I hear members of my community speak of the President as though he were to be judged on one issue alone: Israel. Nothing else, no other element enters the conversation. While I assign no moral equivalence to the issues, the single-mindedness of those who see only Israel is not much different from those who judge the President on nothing else but abortion. He deserves better from us.
your blog is nice
I agree that Obama should address Israelis directly. It’s an issue that has been on the radar for a couple of weeks and, while it will not silence hard-liner Zionists, it will at least give them no more fuel for their diatribes.
But seriously! These right-wing Zionists have begun to sound like petulant children.
Since 1948, when the US was the first to recognize Israel, through $160 billion of US aid, help in becoming a member of the nuclear club, countless UN resolution vetos, hundreds of Senate and House resolutions, and an almost unfathomable amount of “making aliyah” to AIPAC conventions, wreath-layings at Yad Vashem, and lip service to Israeli friendship — despite all this the demand to stop settlements nullifies all these signs of friendship toward Israel and apparently is not enough.
If US-Israeli friendship can brook no disagreements — even ones based on well-known US foreign policy, then it is not a real friendship.
I agree with David Ehrens that a direct appeal to the people of Israel above the heads of the Israeli Government will cause a shift in the public mood. What has been lacking for so long is someone prepared to stick their neck out and go hell for leather to achieve peace. I believe Obama is that man and he has my full confidence. However we must all respect the fact that a huge amount of spadework behind the scenes is still required and it is still going to take a while.