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Dear Mr. President: It's Time to Go to Israel

Comment

J Street, the pro-peace, pro-Israel lobbying group, is circulating a petition calling on President Obama to go to Israel in the very near future. In my view, they are absolutely right. Such a trip is absolutely essential for two reasons.

The first is to reassure Israel of America's support in difficult times. Fairly or not, many Israelis do not trust Obama in the same way they did his two predecessors, Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton.

I criticized Bush for many things during his two terms (although, for the record, I never joined the crowd that "hated" him). But his support for Israel was unwavering, and while it didn't bring peace, it did provide real reassurance to Israelis, including the many who work and pray for a fair and equitable peace for themselves and their children.

As for Clinton, I can't think of any issue that was more important to him, particularly in his second term, than securing peace in the Middle East. I remember talking to him upon his return from peace talks at Wye Plantation, where he had pressured Israel to make major concessions, forging a deal that Yasser Arafat rejected in an unmistakable signal that peace was the last thing he wanted. Even in the closing days of his presidency, Clinton kept pushing. I took my children to say an "official" goodbye just a few weeks before he left office, and he was meeting with the incoming president in one room while Middle East negotiations were going on in another.

At this point, nothing short of a presidential visit will provide such reassurance. I have no problem with the president's trips to other countries that do not need reassurance of our friendship and do not raise, for us or for them, such difficult issues. But Israelis need to know that they remain our most trusted and valued ally in the Middle East.

Because they are.

The need for such a visit goes well beyond symbolism. Word is that absent a viable peace process (which is, of course, the current situation), Palestinians are likely to go to the United Nations in the fall to seek recognition for a Palestinian state. You don't need me to tell you that the United Nations has not been a friend to Israel and is precisely the wrong place for all of these issues to be addressed.

With the Middle East simmering, to put it nicely, it is essential that real peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians begin, and that won't happen without the president. The Jerusalem Post quoted Defense Secretary Robert Gates on a recent trip to Israel telling the Israeli government that "real progress on the peace track with the Palestinians would put them in a much better position for where the region's likely to be in six months or a year from now." Time is of the essence, and so is the full weight of the American president.

It is not only Israelis that the president needs to address. As he so brilliantly has recognized in dealing with civil rights issues, it is not enough to address one side. He needs to go to Israel to speak to both Israelis and Palestinians, as he has done in speaking to both whites and minorities, conveying to both the message that our country is willing to support both sides in the quest for peace.

I want Obama to succeed. One of the reasons I supported Hillary back then was because I was certain of her commitment to the state of Israel. I want to be convinced that Obama is equally committed. It is not just Israelis, or the Jewish community here at home, who need reassurance and want his leadership. Americans from both parties, across the ideological spectrum, care about Israel as much as I do. We want a president who shows us that he cares, too.

To find out more about Susan Estrich and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

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Comments

12 Comments | Post Comment
Forget it! If this Muslim loving president ever goes to Israel it's to tell them to cave in to the palestinians and others that want nothing more than the destruction of Israel. If Susan can't see that she's blinded by her own domestic ideology. Wishful thinking won't cut it! Susan, if you support Israel, vote Obama out of office in 2012.
Comment: #1
Posted by: Early
Fri Apr 1, 2011 5:08 AM
After he visits Israel perhaps he can take a tour of th USA. He seems to like us even less than Israel. Loves Brazil, though, gave them some 2 billion of his money to drill, baby drill, and promised them we would be good customers.

It is in all our best interests to hope an American President succeeds. Only fools would bother to hate a man in such a difficult position. I have, however, learned to trust who Presidint Obama is, an academic with little real life experience, a man who thinks Americans have too much and pay too little for it. He is intellectually detached and has developed no coherent precepts to guide us or himself. Says one thing, does another, then says the second and does the first. I hope he can succeed, but I find it more and more difficult to beleive in him. I voted for him, I am not sorry I did because the other guy really stinks, but Obama will not get my vote again if he doesn't develop an affability towards America first. Israel ranks a little lower on my list, sorry.
Comment: #2
Posted by: Tom
Fri Apr 1, 2011 11:31 AM
This President is much more at home going to Mecca. That is the mission for Muslims, Suzie
Comment: #3
Posted by: Paul
Fri Apr 1, 2011 6:13 PM
The interests of the United States and those of Israel do not coincide at any point. They've done nothing but embarrass us for sixty years. As a nation, they are self-righteous, aggressive, arrogantly intolerant, and utterly indifferent to the rights and lives of anyone other than themselves--in short, they're bullies.

Far from visiting Israel, Obama out to end all American support military and economic, for Israel.
Comment: #4
Posted by: Henry Miller
Sat Apr 2, 2011 6:06 AM
You want President Obama to succeed, you say. Succeed in what? Anything he dreams up? I want the citizens of the USA to succeed by the federal government removing barriers it has erected in the name of "fairness" and other abstractions. How many laws do we need to be successful? An infinite number? Think about it! Otherwise, I like the way you write.
Comment: #5
Posted by: Ron Pavellas
Sun Apr 3, 2011 12:36 AM
Susan, please do not ask Obama to go to Israel again. Remember his own words "I would favor the Muslims in disputes". This says it all or it would not have been written. Or his own words in a TV interview that the first call to prayer for the Muslims was the most beautiful sound in the world to his ears. It is best he stay out of Israel because at heart he is still a Muslim and will do anything he can to bring about the destruction of Israel. How about the pressure from Obama and Hillary to give the Golan Heights back to Syria to help keep him in office. Susan, Israel was a much larger country years ago. Jewish people lived in peace across the entire middle east, but, after Mohammed came along it all changed. Leave Obama in Washington.
Comment: #6
Posted by: Gene44
Sun Apr 3, 2011 10:31 AM
Re: Henry Miller
Please explain how the Israelies are bullies. Contrary to the nations and land around them they allow freedoms, in particular religious freedoms. I do believe you are one of those anti-semites who prefers an Islamic caliphate in the Mid-East. Is so time to move to the Mid-East.
Comment: #7
Posted by: Early
Mon Apr 4, 2011 7:47 AM
Before he goes, be sure to ask him to review the history of the establishment of Israel. Make sure he knows about the until-recently-suppressed facts about the genocide that the Zionists practiced in 1948 when establishing Israel. Make sure that he reviews how Israel violated the Camp David Peace Accord by continuing to build settlements in Palestinian territory.
Before he goes, have him read "Dangerous Omissions: How the U.S. Media Perpetuate the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict." (See http://www.powells.com/biblio/1-9781430309864-0 ).
Let him review the foreign aid so that he will remember that the Israel gets more of our aid that the rest of the world combined. Then let him--as well as the rest of us Americans-- ask the question, "I wonder WHY Israel is our closest ally in the Middle East.?"
Let him spend a little time watching the U.S.-built and U.S. paid-for war planes take off to dominate the skies. And then let him ponder, "I wonder why the Palestinians see America as the enemy?"
Then, maybe, just maybe, Obama and the rest of us can see beyond the stereo-types and headlines to see the conflict in shades of gray. Maybe then we can all recognize that there is is evil, greed, bigotry, and destruction originating on BOTH sides of this conflict.
And then let him turn to his spiritual values to develop a policy towards Israel and Palestine that is based on justice, not the political, economic, and religious oppression that we see today.
Comment: #8
Posted by: Lee
Mon Apr 4, 2011 10:30 AM
Lee,
Please explain your understanding of the history of the land of Israel. You are obviously a supporter of Muslims and an anti-semetic who desires the elimination of Jews from the land of Israel. Peace as defined by you and other Muslims is total Islamic control. It's not what we currently see in the Nation of Israel. By the way , was there ever a Nation of Palestine?
Keep supporting Obama and you may get all your Islamic wishes.
Comment: #9
Posted by: Early
Tue Apr 5, 2011 5:54 AM
Hey George W! Take off that "Miss me yet?" Tee Shirt....THEY DO!!!
Comment: #10
Posted by: billcabot3
Tue Apr 5, 2011 7:50 AM
Re: Ron Pavellas
Yes, her grammer is very good.
Comment: #11
Posted by: Early
Thu Apr 7, 2011 4:58 AM
You are right on with this. I grew up with and still have many Jewish friends. I see no difference except the young ladies in grammar and high school were prettier! And for that matter the boys were for the most part smarter!

Despite all this Obama MUST gain the respect of the Israelis because - for selfish reasons - they stand between the US and Iran!

Keep up the good work lady.
Comment: #12
Posted by: Jim Kennedy
Fri Apr 8, 2011 5:53 PM
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