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Sunday, August 2, 2009

Open Letter to Mr. David A. Harris, President of the National Jewish Democratic Council

Dear Mr. Harris,

On the website of the National Jewish Democratic Council appears your post, "Listening for the Truth about Iran", dated July 17, 2009, which states:

"American Jews—like many other Americans—are right to be nervous about Iran’s intentions here. Iran has a squirrelly track record, and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad ... well, not much more needs to be said about him and his Holocaust-denying, Israel-threatening ways. A nuclear-armed Iran poses an existential threat to Israel, and a clear and present danger to America as well. The American Jewish leaders who met with Obama on Monday widely applauded the president’s vision and comments regarding Iran, and Clinton’s address on Wednesday only puts more meat on the bone.

If anyone hasn’t gotten the message loud and clear from this administration—essentially “no nuclear Iran, not on our watch”—then they’re not listening."
Well, I'm no political animal – I'm just hoping to keep my Israeli family alive - but say what you may, I try to listen. In fact, I heeded very carefully the words of Roger Cohen in his August 2 article in The New York Times Magazine, "The Making of an Iran Policy":

"What Obama’s precise tolerance threshold is for the Iranian nuclear program is in fact unclear. Officially, the administration still insists on the “zero option” — no enrichment, no reprocessing, no sensitive technology. But I heard talk of nonzero options . . . . So deterrence may indeed be the administration’s reluctant bottom line."
"No nuclear Iran, not on our watch"? This isn't what Cohen is telling us. Quite the contrary: "Deterrence" means that if Iran nukes Israel, Iran can expect to be nuked back – hardly reassuring. Cohen goes on to say:

"Clinton has returned to talk of “crippling action” against Iran — not heard since April, when she spoke of “crippling sanctions” — and late last month introduced the notion of a “defense umbrella” in the region that would make Iran less secure, even with a nuclear weapon." [Italics added.]
Please, Mr. Harris, tell me that Cohen is wrong.

Your colleague, Ms. Cynthia Friedman, a member of the executive committee of the National Jewish Democratic Council, wrote a letter to the editor of The New York Times, dated July 30, 2009, in which she says:

"The presence of so many top American officials in Israel at one time working to improve security cooperation sends a message to Israel and the entire world: the United States-Israeli relationship is rock solid, and it’s here to stay. Those who say it isn’t aren’t listening to our president."

Nice mantra: Those who disagree with Obama are not listening.

More recently, in "The Chutzpah of Obama's Jewish Critics", which appears online in the Jerusalem Post (, Marc Stanley, Chairman of the National Jewish Democratic Council, states:

"However, there will still be those with the undying chutzpah to attack the president for not being sufficiently supportive of Israel. I urge them to actually listen to what the president is saying and watch what he is doing - they might be surprised."

"Chutzpah"? Again I am "not listening"? True, I'm hard of hearing from many years serving in artillery. Nevertheless, let me inform Ms. Friedman, Mr. Stanley and you that there is an unprecedented crisis of confidence among Israelis, from both left and right, regarding America's "rock solid" relationship with Israel, and given what appears in Roger Cohen's article, their misgivings appear justified.

Imagine if President Obama had gone from Cairo to Jerusalem to Ramallah. This trip would have established President Obama as one of today's preeminent statesmen, and a wide spectrum of Israelis would have applauded his vision and courage. But he didn't.

General Jones, Defense Secretary Gates, Dennis Ross and George Mitchell have been sent to correct the damage? Sorry, but Israelis aren't stupid. You see, even the Israeli left knows that the current "settlement crisis" with Israel was manufactured to order. Most Israelis are willing to relinquish the settlements, and former Israeli prime ministers Barak and Olmert offered the territories back to the Palestinians, with an exchange of lands where necessary, to achieve peace. If Obama was serious about halting settlement construction and not just winning approbation from the tyrannical Iranian, Syrian and Saudi regimes, quiet diplomacy would have been more effective.

Ms. Friedman wrote her letter to the editor of The New York Times from Palm Beach. I know little about prevailing attitudes in Florida, but let me inform you that here, in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Haifa, fear has penetrated the collective psyche. Israelis go about their day-to-day lives, yet know that they again face extinction, this time from Iran, and listening to the minutest details as is their wont, they currently have little faith or trust in President Obama, as amply evident in recent polls.

But who cares about polls? At home my wife is terrified by the ramifications of President Obama's appeasement of Iran and Syria. She grew up on a kibbutz in northern Israel and spent much of her childhood in underground bomb shelters, owing to incessant Syrian shelling of her agricultural collective. Maybe you would like to pick up the phone and tell her that she is "not listening". I can promise you an "animated" conversation.

Best regards,

1 comment:

  1. The most telling in Mr.Harris's letter is the beginning:
    "American Jews—like many other Americans..." "We are assimilated, we are like true Americans" - this is whole meaning of the text.

    I like the piece too:
    "If anyone hasn’t gotten the message loud and clear from this administration—essentially “no nuclear Iran, not on our watch”—then they’re not listening."

    We are listening all kinds of messages from the administration, we just do not know what to believe. For example, Obama said that Jerusalem should be undivided capital of Israel, then he said that Jews have right to live only in certain quarters of Jerusalem (Jerusalem ghetto?). Shall we forget everything Obama said before, and trust his latest "wisdom", while expecting something even more wise?

    Servility and complicity of American Jewish organizations frighten me too.