Friday, 13 February 2009

An Open Letter to President Obama on the Israel-Palestine Issue

Dear President Obama

How do you do Sir? Today is your 23rd day in office and you must be busy with your bailout package for all those undeserving banks. However, I’m sure you have an eye on the Israeli election results. The ruling centrist Kadima party is maintaining its one-seat lead over right-wing Likud. However, about 100,000 ballots are yet to be counted and the result is not yet official. Avigdor Lieberman’s extreme right-wing Yisrael Beiteinu is in third place and Labor, Israel's founding party and Kadima's current coalition partner is fourth.

Assuming Kadima comes to power and Tzipi Livni becomes Israel’s Prime Minister, you will be dealing with a hawkish bunch of people who have repeatedly failed to make the compromises that are necessary to bring peace in the middle-east. The worst aspect of this election is that even Yisrael Beiteinu, much more rightwing than even Likud, is doing better than Labour.

Please don’t get me wrong Mr. President. I have always supported Israel’s right to exist. Israel was validly created by a UN resolution. Israel was meant to be predominantly Jewish and it is right in encouraging Jews to migrate to Israel. However, Israel wasn’t meant to be entirely Jewish. The UN resolution which created Israel did not allow it to carry out ethnic cleansing of Arabs. Israel’s treatment of its Arab minority has been shameful. Its treatment of Arabs in the occupied territories has been even worse. Further, building Jewish settlements in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip is something that can never be justified. Arabs in Israel are discriminated against and are second-class citizens in their own country.

Israel’s economy is not in a good shape. To be very honest, Israel has survived till date mainly because of the unbelievable levels of US aid it has received over the years. Though Israel has shed its socialist past and has many world class companies and entrepreneurs, Israel still relies on US aid to get by, mainly because of its very high defence budget.

One of the biggest dangers facing Israel is the demographic bomb. The Arabs have a much higher birth rate and even without including the Arabs in the occupied territories, Arabs form 20% of Israel’s population. It is estimated by some experts that by around 2040, the Arabs will be a majority in Israel. Further, Israel’s enemies such as Iran, Hizbollah and Hamas are becoming more and more powerful and Israel no longer has its aura of invincibility.

Mr. President, just like you, I am a friend of Israel and I want to ensure that Israel continues to survive forever. To survive, Israel must Israel must make peace with the Palestinians and other Arabs as soon as possible. Now that (relatively) secular Palestinian organisations like the Fatah are weak and unpopular among Palestinians, Israel will have to make its peace with Hamas and Hizbollah. To begin with, Israel must allow the creation of a viable Palestinian state. No, I’m not talking of Jordan, though it may have more Palestinians than Jordanians. This Palestinian state should include not only the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, but should have its capital in East Jerusalem. All Jewish settlements must be withdrawn from the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Mr. President, if there is any force on earth which can force Israel to make this concession, it is the United States of America. The US of A has many levers with which it can force Israel to change. Withholding of financial aid is definitely one option. Not sharing US military technology with Israel is another. Israel may become weak in the short run, as a result, but in the long run, it will be stronger.

Mr. President, to Save Israel, you need to make it weak.

Yours sincerely

A blogger from the World Wide Web

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