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An Israeli’s Open Letter to Obama

Dear Mr. President, Over the past few months we are ever more frequently hearing about the US State Department’s objections toward Israeli building in existing settlements (even those that have been established three to four decades ago) in general and … Read More

By / August 31, 2009


Dear Mr. President,

Over the past few months we are ever more frequently hearing about the US State Department’s objections toward Israeli building in existing settlements (even those that have been established three to four decades ago) in general and in Jerusalem as well. In particular the negative commentary given in regards to building of a new house in East Jerusalem on private land owned by a private citizen who has received all the necessary municipal permits because of strange explanations to the effect that it would "upset the demographic character of the area."

Was it not just over one year ago on June 4, 2008 that you (at the time a senator and presidential candidate) delivered an inspiring speech before the American Israel Public Affairs Committee in which you declared to all present that "Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel, and it must remain undivided"?

What has happened in that short time since? In addition you and your staff from the State Department are continuously speaking about Israelis settlements as the main obstacle to peace…. as if they did not exist then peace would instantly reign in this area. In your speech to AIPAC the word "settlements" is mentioned only once with your advice to Israel "to refrain from building new settlements – as agreed with the Bush administration at Annapolis."

Personally, I can attest to have been captivated by you during your presidential campaign. Your speeches were deeply inspiring, and gave a message of hope to many throughout the USA and indeed the world. "Yes we can" is a simple statement, a hope and a belief in a better world, and our individual and collective ability as nations to bring about much needed change to the good. But implicit in "Yes we can" is also the promise that "Yes we will do what we promised to do". Now is the time to convert those presidential campaign promises into action, in recognition to the words of Benjamin Franklin, "Well done is better than well said."

Your strong promotion of the idea of two states for two nations may be commendable as a purely theoretical solution; however the reality of the situation is that today three states are needed for two nations if Hamas which is the de facto power in the Gaza strip is taken into account.

Having the US object to building in Jerusalem and inside existing settlements to account for natural growth is sending to our adversaries precisely the very wrong message, and it practically guarantees greater intransigence and belligerency in the future. In searching for the solution to peace in our area it is of key importance to understand the internal thinking of Islam, and in particular radical Islam from their perspective, in order to avoid repeating some of the tragic mistakes made by the West in dealing with Iran before and after the Islamic Revolution in 1979.

In conclusion, I would like to recall a story about the Russian woman who asked Mr. Gorbachev: "Who invented communism – Politicians or Scientists?"

Mr. Gorbachev replied that he was not sure but he thought that it was Politicians.

The woman responded that she thought so as well, as scientists would have first experimented on mice, frogs, and only then tried it out on live people.

We should learn the lessons of history here, and tread slowly and cautiously so that we do not create irreparable damage with our very good intentions.

 

Sincerely,

Lev Shapiro

Herzliya, Israel

 

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