Dear Mr. Obama:
I’m writing you from the Holy Land, somewhere in Gush Etzion, the closest settlement to Gilo – which up until yesterday was just another nice Jerusalem neighborhood, yet as of today is apparently an illegal outpost.
I hope all is well with you and that you are not losing your perspective in China. Because from here, Mr. Obama, the latest move in respect to Gilo appears like a tragic mistake that was not thought out at all and will merely serve to complicate the regional situation.
We are talking about a move that is so illogical, Mr. President, that even Opposition Leader Tzipi Livni – a woman who usually doesn’t miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity – realized that she must openly speak out against this new demand, which views Gilo as a settlement.
Yet this is not only the demand that we stop building in Gilo – a stipulation that nobody really intends to adhere to – that makes us lose sleep, Mr. President. It’s also the tone of your words.
You say that if we don't stop building in Gilo, a legitimate neighborhood in Jerusalem, Israel will become a less safe place to live in. You explain that the construction would prompt the Palestinians to commit radical acts. You are hinting to us that terrorism is a direct and unavoidable result of Israel’s conduct.
In fact, you are telling us that just as a plant grows when you water it, if we build homes in Gilo suicide bombers will explode at coffee shops. As if it’s a natural matter.
And so what if we were hit by Qassam rockets after we left Gush Katif and sustained Katyusha attacks after withdrawing from Lebanon? And so what if we got a murderous Intifada after offering the Palestinians everything at Camp David? That’s of less interest to you.
Back then you were just a senator in Chicago. It was not an issue you had to worry about. After all you are only concerned for our security, because if we stop building in Gilo quiet will prevail here. Iran will no longer threaten us with nukes, Hezbollah won’t wish us any harm, and Hamas will decide to disarm forever.
New Administrations come into office with new insights. We certainly accept that, Mr. President. But you would do well to understand at this time already, when your approval rating is at a low point of 46%, that not everything that comes to your mind will be immediately embraced here.
There are especially illogical demands – and the one that views Gilo as a settlement is one of them – that unite us Israelis from the Left and Right and remind us that at the end of the day we, and only we, are entitled to decide where we build, what we build, and what will happen in our sovereign state.
America is a good friend and it will remain such, Mr. President, even if once in a while we have to put it in its place.