Like so many others, I've not yet gotten over the exhilaration of seeing Obama elected President. As an Israeli I also have special hopes regarding a changed American approach to our local conflict. As you may know Obama has a web sight where we can communicate our thoughts and hopes for an American "Change". I sent Obama a message thru this web site, and though I know that some of my friends would disagree with my message, I thought it would be well to share with you the things I wrote.
So here it is:
To our President-elect, Barack Obama
Re: your involvement with us in Israel
I was stunned by your election to the Presidency, and I thank whatever circumstances enabled your election aside from your truly wonderful attributes which make you what you are. I did not think those attributes of excellence would be enough to place you in the driver’s seat…..not in the America I knew.
But you are there……a combination of all that is YOU and circumstances not envisioned when you started on the road to the presidency.
I am a citizen of both the USA and of Israel. I am Jewish. I live in a kibbutz close to the Lebanese border. I am an ardent Zionist and believe in Israel as our Jewish Homeland. My fervent Zionist desire for a democratic Jewish Homeland is the basis for my belief that only a true two-state solution between Israelis and Palestinians can satisfy the desires and the future of our two peoples in the most just and democratic spirit.
A two state solution will never develop as long as we Israelis continue to settle and expand our settlements in the territories we conquered after being unilaterally attacked in the war of 1967. As long as we continue civilian settlement in occupied territory, as long as we continue to find legal and security excuses for shameful land-grabbing, we shall never arrive at a two state solution acceptable (even grudgingly) to both sides.
American Presidents in the past, and certainly during these past few decades, have given sound support to Israel in its stand within a hostile Arab world in the Middle East. But the American bear-hug has also allowed us to say we are truly looking for a two-state solution while blatantly continuing our settlement policy in Palestinian lands. This is a policy that will eventually destroy the democratic moral fiber of our country, and perhaps also lead to the physical melt-down of our Jewish democratic homeland.
If you are truly a friend of Israel as a democratic Jewish homeland, which I believe you are, please don’t continue the overdone bear-hug. Please be a true friend, one who takes us to task for those acts that are counterproductive to both our physical future and to our moral standing as a democratic Jewish homeland. I know that we here in Israel will make the final policy decisions. But our decisions have always taken into account the American bear-hug which has generally looked away from our failings in the occupied territories. Be a true friend. Stop looking away. If we need a detox period, help us bring it on.
I know….helping us as I ask may get you into hot water with many other American Jews who will paint you as an enemy of Israel. But this is not an election year anymore, and you have an eight year surge, and most of your contributions came via the web. Give us the proper guarantees while going thru detox. After we get to a two-state solution, my fellow American Jews will come around. But most of all, you will have done the right thing……..for us Israelis and for the Palestinians. It will not solve the conflicts in the Middle East, but it will alleviate some tensions enough to allow better dialogue between the United States and the Arab world. This is good for America. This is good for the world. This is good for us.
I am well aware that you have so many other issues to resolve in the immediate future. Our conflict will not top your list on the 21st of January. But remember us in February, because without your help, settlements will continue to grow and expand in the Palestinian occupied lands and our conflict will continue seeding a full blown conflagration that will also land at your doorstep.
Along with my sincere respect and admiration for you, I wish you the strength and stamina and wisdom that we so expect from you as the President of the United States.
Kibbutz Gesher Haziv, Israel