This is not a letter to an American Jewish friend. Rather it is a post-it note. A letter you can stick in a drawer and forget about it. I want you to put this on your refrigerator, on your computer screen, on your bathroom mirror and look at it a lot! It is not an argument. Nor is it an admonition. Rather it is a few points to think about when you follow the renewed and tiring Netanyahu–Obama saga.
At one point we were talking about how a good friend tells his or her friend that he is addicted to drugs and needs help… Now that has changed. The US is telling Israel to give up its drug habit… although the administration is not doing such a great job, tempering its message with a small toke of the Occupation joint or sip of the settlement cocktail, Israel continues to wake up groggy, hung-over, strung-out, clawing the ground for a used cigarette saying problem? I don’t got no problem…
Bibi is using you. He is slick at avoiding the truth, law and reality. He is engaged in dialogue with the extreme right wing that makes up most of his government and much of his party and is using the US Jewish Community to cover up his failings… For example, has he ever explained to you, Good American Jews, card carrying “friends of Israel”, why it is that Israel’s security depends on putting civilians, including innocent young children in settlements in order to serve as some sort of a buffer zone?
Bibi prefers settlements over democracy. He prefers the suppression of dissent in order to promote the Occupation. Bibi and his cronies are behind laws and law proposals that limit the ability of human rights NGOs to operate, that limit legitimate methods of civil protest and demand that an entire minority population in Israel renounce its own narrative and catastrophe that it experienced.
Bibi could not have reached this pinnacle of political and moral hubris without you. Yes the American Jewish Community has given him and his predecessors too much leeway, too much ‘understanding’ and far too much blind obedience. Now you have a choice. I am not asking you to choose Jewish Voice for Peace or others of the so called “radical left” (usually labeled ‘radical’ by those who seek to preserve the Occupation, i.e. the radical right) but rather to reject AIPAC style blind obedience and, at least, to actively join the tough, critical and far more friendly Israel engagement of the likes of J Street.
Do not let Israel’s fear monger fool you. A vast number of Israelis are people for democratic society. We want:
* Money for learning and education rather than hasbara and indoctrination;
* Civil society rather than the violence that emerges from a society built up on occupation and oppression;
* A state that rejects racism in all its forms rather than one that turns its back on justice and decency;
* A state with democratic borders rather than a state that continues to border on Apartheid;
* A state that flies the flag of social justice rather than one in which the flag draped coffin of equality is lowered into the ground;
* And so much more that the Occupation, the settlements, the refusal that Bibi personifies denies us.
You decide: Will you finally speak out, rise up and stand behind Barack Obama and push him to speak out beyond AIPAC? Or will you continue to collectively, passively and/or actively stand behind Bibi and company as they reject peace and continue on their myopic journey to nowhere? The ball is in the Court of American Jewry. Is it the same old game of occupation, settlement building and mutually assured oppression or is it a new game based on the rules of freedom and on democratic vision?
Louis Frankenthaler moved to Israel in 1995 and lives with his family in West Jerusalem. He is a doctoral student and human rights worker.