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Jewish Journal

Letter to Obama

by David Suissa

April 3, 2008 | 6:00 pm

I am a right-wing Jew who doesn't trust "moderate" Palestinians, who believes the peace process is a charade orchestrated by weak leaders with personal and political agendas, and who is repulsed by the way the United Nations and a large part of the world unfairly singles out Israel for condemnation.

I believe the only way to deal with terror is to fight it until you achieve deterrence -- and never reward the enablers of terror with money, arms or fake peace meetings that just raise false hopes. I have no respect for disingenuous crybabies like Mahmoud Abbas, who asks the world to "protect the Palestinian people from the IDF [Israel Defense Force]," when he knows full well that if no bombs were falling on Israeli civilians, there would be no need to fear the IDF.

And I can't stand pacifists who expect Israel not to defend itself but to always "reach out for peace," even when the other party is incapable of delivering peace.

That being said, Mr. Obama, I'm crazy about you.

I've read the numerous anti-Obama e-mails that have spread throughout the Jewish world, and I know it's fashionable among many Jews to have doubts about you. Yes, we are a paranoid people, and often for good reason. In the Bible, we were the people of the stiff necks; today we are the people of the thin skins.

One reason we're so paranoid is that we seem to always get burned -- even by our best friends. Look at one of our all-time good buddies, Bill Clinton, whose favorite priest, on his deathbed, told him to always be good to the Jews. In his zeal to give us peace, Clinton honored and legitimized one of history's greatest terrorists, the duplicitous Yasser Arafat, who responded to peace overtures by launching a terror war against Israel.

Years later, Clinton admitted he should never have trusted Arafat. But why hadn't he listened to the many voices warning him that Arafat was a traitor to his own cause -- a glory junkie who saw no drama or victory in achieving peace? Because, in the immortal phrase of his vice president, that was an "inconvenient truth."

After Clinton the believer we had George Bush the bodyguard. This was no ordinary best friend. Here was an American president who could see through the wily ways of the terrorist mind. Finally, we had someone in the White House who understood that it is useless to negotiate peace with a society that has been taught only war and hatred, and who understood that only a reformation of Palestinian society could bring about the conditions for real peace.

But Bush the bodyguard became Bush the absentee father who became Bush the panicked peacemaker. So now we're back to a peace process that still doesn't address the underlying malignancies that have always plagued such efforts, and that does nothing to address the immediate threats to Israel, like a nuclear Iran or the terror armies on Israel's borders who are sworn to its destruction.

So why am I so crazy about a liberal politician like you, Mr. Obama?

I think it's for the same reason my 7-year-old daughter, Eva, wants to have an "Obama birthday party" next November: I like you. You're sharp, but you're not a phony. You're a human being first and a politician second.

Because you care about all human beings, there's a decent chance you won't get sucked into believing that the Palestinian cause is the end-all and be-all of international causes; and that you'll give equal empathy to the plight of the Tibetans, the Kurds, the Basques, the Sri Lankans, the Darfurians and other causes which haven't used global terror to get the world's attention.

Because of your humanity, when you look at the Middle East you will care about the gays in Egypt who are jailed because they are gays, the poets in Syria who get tortured because of what they write and the women in Saudi Arabia who are oppressed because they are women.

When you look at Israel, it won't escape your sharp eye to see that the Arab populations with the most freedom and protected human rights in the Middle East are right there, in the Jewish state.

You'll also notice that wherever Israel evacuated (Gaza and Lebanon), terror armies grew, and where Israel stayed (West Bank), terror was contained.

You don't strike me as a stubborn ideologue who is intellectually lazy and who delegates his thinking to others, whether they be priests or expert advisers. You will go where the facts and the truth lead you, and that can only be good for the Jews.

Just like you had the courage to bring up the "scourge of anti-Semitism" at a black church on Martin Luther King Day, you will have the courage to bring up the "scourge of terrorism" and the "scourge of teaching hatred" when you visit a Palestinian mosque.

Many people think you're not tough enough. I'm not so sure. I think pampered yuppies and loud cowboys are the weak ones. Cool gentlemen with street smarts like you can make the toughest and smartest warriors.

To paraphrase Andrew Sullivan in the Atlantic Monthly, I can't wait for all those anti-American jihadists around the world to wake up one morning and see that the leader of the Great Satan is now called Barack Hussein Obama. There'd be no greater compliment to America, and the ideals it stands for, than to have a man like you as its leader.

If anybody will ever earn the respect of the warring parties of the Middle East and of the rest of the world, it will be a black American president with a Muslim name, a sense of universal fairness, and the courage to speak the truth as he sees it.

As someone who is deeply pained by how the world continues to malign the state of Israel, I have the audacity to hope that such a change will be good for the Jews.

David Suissa, an advertising executive, is founder of OLAM magazine and Meals4Israel.com. He can be reached at dsuissa@olam.org.

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