I also know you love Israel and care very much what happens to it. I, as you, want what is best for both our countries.
We have known each other so many years, meeting first through emails that I sent out in support of Israel during that terrible time of senseless terror brought on by the so-called “peace” accords of Oslo. You were a great lover of Israel who fought to bring the truth about media lies to the forefront from your position of power and integrity, earned through years of public service in the American government. And from the virtual world, we began a real friendship that brought us together so many times in your country and mine over more than a decade.
I know you want what is best for America.
But I also know you love Israel and care very much what happens to it. I, as you, want what is best for both our countries.
How is it, then, we have come to this bitter divide on the upcoming presidential election? From the beginning, I saw Barack Obama as a dangerous enigma: a man who sat for 20 years listening to the sermons of the anti-Semitic, anti-white racist Rev. Jeremiah Wright; a man who surrounded himself with anti- Israel advisers. You saw it differently: You were full of hope for a new beginning, for a fresh, new face on the political horizons, a man who would be a historic first that broke racial barriers and made all Americans feel proud that the country had turned a new, quintessentially American page in its racially fraught history.
He was a man who would fight for the underdog, the environment, women, and expand the government’s largesse to the needy through universal healthcare and social benefits. He would lead the country to a new greatness.
I viewed him as inexperienced, a bigtalker do-nothing. A man who was unqualified for the responsibilities of being leader of the free world. Most of all, I saw him as an enemy of Israel.
The first four years of his presidency were stormy, a tsunami of economic woes washing over the country, which went from a recession to a near-depression.
Franklin Roosevelt, who also inherited economic chaos, managed in the first 100 days of his presidency to pass 15 historic bills that became known as the New Deal, including the FDIC; the Federal Emergency Relief Act, which provided direct relief, training and work for unemployed Americans; the National Recovery Act; and the Public Works Administration, among others.
Mr. Obama? He passed the $787 billion economic stimulus plan and expanded welfare benefits to children, signed a law requiring equal pay for women, implemented new ethics guidelines designed to significantly curtail the influence of lobbyists on the executive branch, supported the UN declaration on sexual orientation and gender identity, relaxed marijuana laws and lifted the ban on federal funding for embryonic stem-cell research. He also ordered the closure of the Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp (although it’s still open). In the years of his presidency that followed, he managed to pass a historic healthcare law, which Americans desperately need. Unfortunately it is a controversial law that drains Medicare of billions, forces Americans to buy health insurance, and, many fear, will send health costs soaring.
These were important, praiseworthy acts, but as you and I both understand, none of these came close to dealing with the suffering of the average American whose life and prospects for the future have been tragically undermined, with no help in sight. Twenty-three million Americans are out of work! Twenty-three million.
Dear friend, our differences on President Obama’s domestic policies are debatable. I would not insist you are wrong to support him, although I have to say I see him as painfully misguided and woefully unprepared to handle America’s economic crisis. He has never even presided over a small business.
It is, however, our differences over Mr. Obama’s Mideast policies and his attitude toward Israel that have opened the great and yawning divide between us. How we got there, I outlined in my “Fool me twice, shame on me” column in the July 27 Magazine. In consequence of an unrelenting and ultimately disastrous path toward a new “understanding” with the Muslim world, President Obama has come to be viewed by myself and almost all my fellow Israelis as a less than willing ally, as well as a most reluctant friend of the Jewish state, something that was inevitable from the moment he bowed to the king of Saudi Arabia, and addressed the Muslim world from a podium in Cairo, making reference to his heritage as a Kenyan Muslim, quoting from the Koran and demanding Israel stop building in its capital, Jerusalem.
His open hostility toward our Prime Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, is common knowledge. He, and with him the Israeli people, have been snubbed again and again, as the Obama administration demotes Israel from its “special relationship” to just “one of America’s allies in the region.” Given that the region is the Middle East, I can’t help but wonder who Obama considers America’s strongest ally here. Turkey under the fanatic Recep Tayyip Ergodan? Cairo under the Muslim Brotherhood? Or perhaps Syria? I know you can counter this with the oft-stated arguments of the Jewish Left, who say that he has increased aid to Israel and given it access to the most advanced military equipment, including the latest fighter aircraft. Indeed, you’d be right to point out that our own defense minister, Ehud Barak, said last year, “I can hardly remember a better period of American support and backing, and Israeli cooperation and similar strategic understanding of events around us than what we have right now.”
Really, my dear friend, what do you expect an Israeli politician to say given that he might be dealing with a reelected President Obama for the next four years? Yet contrast Barak’s words with the reality of the deafening silence of the Obama administration’s response to any request to draw a red line in Iran’s development of nuclear weapons, which that country has expressly announced would be used to “wipe Israel off the map.” What will increased US military aid do to help the six million Jews of Israel during – God forbid! – a nuclear attack? I know I don’t have to remind you, dear friend, what a tiny country Israel is, and how vulnerable its population is.
AS I wandered around Jerusalem during the holidays, I was overwhelmed by the reminders of how young we are, how many babies and young children and young parents there are. Like a blossoming tree full of new leaves, we are flourishing.
And so, dear friend, I must turn to you and ask you for your help. Unlike most appeals from Israel to American Jews, this doesn’t involve writing any checks, supporting any institutions. Israel is growing stronger economically every day, thank God, using its genius and creativity to fill the world with important and wonderful new medical and technological advances.
It has become everything its friends and supporters dreamed it could be. A place where every Jew was welcomed home whenever he decided he needed to come here. American Jews have given their money most generously. But very few of them have joined their lives to that of the Jewish state.
Out of more than three and a half million immigrants to Israel since 1882, only 110,000 have been from North America.
Compare that to the over two million from Europe, and over a million alone from the former Soviet Union. With rare and commendable exceptions, your sons and daughters have not donned IDF uniforms and sat on the front lines making Israel possible. Your grandchildren have not been the targets of murderous terrorist attacks.
But now the clock is ticking, and you have something you can do to help Israel.
In my opinion, you can do it while significantly helping America’s interests at the same time. You can vote out Obama and vote in a real ally of Israel, and a stronger leader of the free world, one who will not be bowing to the king of Saudi Arabia.
With all my love, Naomi …
This article was first published in the Jerusalem Post on 12 October, 2012.