Mr. Obama, don't equate Israel with its enemies

May 27, 2011

An open letter to President Obama:

As I write this, you will have already presented, both to the State Department and to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, your views on the spreading embrace of democracy by many in the Middle East in revolt against their dictatorial and autocratic leaders and governments as part of the so-called Arab Spring. Had you stopped there, your speech would have been remembered as a clear call for these seeming democratically-led rebellions to succeed.

But you didn't stop there. You wanted to cover the whole cake with a sweeping impact onto the most troubled and troubling of arenas within the world as the Middle East continues to explode with civil wars and government-led massacres of its own citizens. You felt obliged to throw in Israel and the Palestinian conflict in the same breath as Egypt, Libya, Sudan and Syria. In a continent now screaming and dying for democracy, you chose to put the only democracy in that boiling pot of tyranny in jeopardy by your suggestions.

While embracing the concept of freedom on one hand, you seem willing to throw the realism of democracy to the dogs. Isn't this somewhat disingenuous if not blatantly contradictory? Not only have you assured that the first part of your message will be forgotten within the tsunami of responses that will concentrate on the Israel-Palestine issue, but you have also done a great injustice for all those seeking a way out of their suffocating, tyrannical holes — the limelight that should have been theirs and theirs alone will now be diluted, defused and disfigured in a welter of comment that distracts from their hopes.

There is no desire by the Palestinian leadership to seek an everlasting accommodation with Israel based on a secure political agreement, for their hatred knows no bounds and their duplicity knows no limits. Do you need to be reminded of the time when the Israelis vacated the South of Israel in favor of the Palestinians, and what happened thereafter will forever last in the Israeli psyche: The Palestinians moved in, utterly destroyed the entire economic infrastructure, and transformed the area into a war zone from which thousands of rockets and missiles were directed into Israeli neighborhoods.

Forgive me, Mr. President, but you cannot make peace with a people whose entire basis to exist is defined by hatred, destruction, terror and ruthless tyranny. As long as the people continue to allow their children to become suicidal human weapons to murder others, this is not a society with whom peace can ever succeed, nor one on whose behalf you change your borders to allow easier penetration by these killers.

The two issues, Mr. President, are vastly different. The peoples of the Middle East want democracy while the Palestinians through their PLO and Hamas leaders wish to annihilate the only democracy currently around in that area.

Mr. President, we rejoice — but with trembling — at your suggestions and by the total misunderstanding of the historical reality by attaching one subject with the other. They are both totally distinct and different realities each seeking totally different end games.

The choice is so clear: Defend the freedom-based protestors, but don't fill us with terror as you place Israel in unnecessary jeopardy at the hand of its most destructive neighbors.

Rabbi Chaim Landau, Baltimore

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