Saturday, February 12, 2011

Here is a letter I wrote to President Obama when he made the "settlements," many of which are communities contiguous to Jerusalem and on the north and south, not the east, of the city:

Dear Mr. President:

After 40 years as a registered Democrat (following in my father’s and his father’s footsteps), I just dropped my affiliation. I did it because of your policies on the Israel-Palestinian dispute and your apparent attitude and approach toward Israel. Simply put, I feel misled and hurt by what you have done and I am searching for tangible ways to express my feelings that will hopefully cause you to change course.

You should know at the outset that I am not one of those hardliner “don’t give up an inch, all of Biblical Israel belongs to Jews” Jews. Although I do think that the Jewish people have a superior historical claim to Jerusalem and the West Bank, and I do know that the Hashemite rulers of Jordan have no more claim to that country than anyone else who was handed a kingdom in exchange for support in a war, I have always supported territorial compromise, just as all Israeli leaders of every major party from Ben-Gurion forward have accepted such compromise.

Thus, I supported the Camp David I process (can you imagine where the Palestinian nation would be today if the Palestinians had accepted that one), the Oslo process, Barak’s Camp David II offer, the Taba enhancements, the Lebanon pullout, the Gaza pullout, and the Olmert Camp David II/Taba enhancements-plus offer made to President Abbas just last year.

I just wish the Palestinians would have accepted one of these offers, or at least counter-offered rather than just walked away or, worse, resorted to violence. I also wish that your Administration and all of the pundits that seem to feel only one side should be pressured in this process would remember who keeps making the offers and the unilateral gestures and who fails to accept them or counter offer. Indeed, if Chairman Arafat or President Abbas had said “yes” or “yes, but” to any of these offers, the current nastiness over “settlements” would never have occurred.

You should also know that I am not one of the persons that believe the President and the U.S. have to agree with Israel on every point in order to be a friend of Israel and to garner my support. After all, we both know that nations aren’t really “friends.” Who is kidding who on that one? Nations have interests and support other nations when it is in their interest to do so. For a whole variety of reasons, U.S. presidents and members of Congress, reflecting the sentiments of a large bipartisan segment of the population, have always deemed it in the U.S. interest to generally support Israel. That does not mean that there have not been differences along the way, sometimes made public, but more often, as befitting “friends,” handled privately.

So, why did I drop my registration as a Democrat after all these years, a decision not without angst for me and one that would have caused my late father, a loyal supporter of Roosevelt, Truman, Kennedy, Johnson, and all that they stood for, much heartburn? Because you have shown me that you are not a “friend” of Israel and, intentionally or not, you misled me and a lot of other people when you represented yourself to be a friend. Plus, your unfriendly behavior is telling others that perhaps it is time to be less supportive of Israel, to take advantage of it, to weaken it. Here are a few of the reasons I feel this way:

A friend doesn’t forget all of the history demonstrating a willingness to compromise outlined above and put the entire burden on one party to make concessions without even getting the other party to sit down at the bargaining table and at least recognize the existence of his friend.

A friend doesn’t use one stupid gaffe of the timing of a mid-level decision, nothing close to a final decision, to cause a major blow-out, which looks much like an attempt to either cause a change in his friend’s government or to give a green light to other governments to pile on. A friend doesn’t mix up West Bank settlements with existing Jewish neighborhoods without any Arab population that are situated between two Jewish neighborhoods. Once the Vice-President resolves the situation while staying on the mission of reassuring Israelis regarding Iran (something important to the U.S.), a friend does not then make the issue into one of the biggest fights in the history of relations between the two friends.

A friend doesn’t direct his Secretary of State to call the Prime Minister and engage in a 43 minute conversation complete with characterizations reserved for your worst enemies, demands, timelines, and threats of a change in relationship because of one unfortunate incident handled well by the Vice-President. A friend’s Administration does not then leak the details to the media.

A friend does not engage in behavior such as this that, wittingly or not, signals to the other side that a new day has arrived, that the nature of a relationship has changed, that the time is right for sitting back and demanding more without offering anything, that the friend cannot rely on the friendship, that the friend is vulnerable to being isolated and alone in its defense.

A friend, wittingly or not, does not insinuate that Israel’s ostensible intransigence rather than those who keep rejecting offers is the reason for the lack of progress in negotiations and is thereby somehow responsible for jeopardizing the lives of American military personnel. If American personnel are indeed in jeopardy because of the lack of progress in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, a friend doesn’t blame the democratic country that has withdrawn from territory and has made offer after offer. A friend moves quickly to get the Palestinians to come to the table and negotiate, rather than manufacturing excuses for them not to negotiate. A friend knows that this type of false innuendo and insinuation about Israel’s blame for jeopardizing American lives quickly morphs into one of the old favorites of Jew-haters everywhere: blame the Jews. A friend understands that Jews are extremely and justifiably sensitive about this.

Finally, a friend doesn’t, by making such a huge and unnecessary public crisis out of an ill-timed but relatively low-level decision about a Jewish neighborhood of Jerusalem, signal to members of Congress, other nations, and the Democratic Party and others that the tide is changing, that it is perhaps time to re-evaluate their relationships and attitudes.

Mr. President, after doing all of this and more that demonstrates your unfriendliness toward Israel, you and members of your Administration then modified a bit and started talking about what a great friendship you feel toward Israel. Perhaps acting not like a friend one day but saying you are a friend before and after the actions has some meaning in the diplomatic world. In my world it simply means you are not a good friend, a reliable friend, a trusted friend.

Obviously, Mr. President, if you believe what you are doing is in the best interest of the American people (something I disagree with), then you will pursue it, and you should. However, you should not have, intentionally or not, misled me and many others by saying you were Israel’s friend and you should not continue to confuse the matter.

I am afraid, Mr. President, that your actions are leading the nation, the world, and my Party of 40 years toward a new, very unfriendly and dangerous attitude toward Israel. One of the few ways I have of registering my objection and my strong feeling that you misled me is to drop my registration as a Democrat. I hope that you or some future leader of the Party will demonstrate a friendship toward Israel that will allow me to feel comfortable re-registering with the party of my father and grandfather.

1 comment:

  1. Alan:

    Given Jimmy Carter's long and distinguished career of blaming Israel first, and most of the national-level Democrats faltering support of Israel ever since, I am surprised that you are surprised by Obama's behavior and rhetoric. He is continuing a growing tradition among national Dem's to throw Israel under the bus in a vain attempt to placate the Islamists and the Left's cocktail party friends among the so-called "international community."