It is most unfortunate that political columnist Abby Wisse Schachter, who wrote “Obama’s Israel strategy” (April 15) did not have time to research the background for her piece. The argument in this column makes four deeply flawed assumptions about the relations of the U.S. and Israel.
First, the argument assumes that a majority of American Jews opposes an active U.S. role in resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. To the contrary, public opinion polling (Gerstein-Agne, March 2010) shows that American Jews by a four-to-one margin, 82 to 18 percent, support an active American role. Moreover, according to the same survey, 73 percent of American Jews support this role even if it means that the United States publicly states its disagreements with the parties to the conflict.
Second, the columnist assumes that the U.S. is pressing only Israel to engage in the peace process, unfairly singling out only one of the parties. Very strong pressure, however, is being exerted on the Palestinian authority — to give up expectations that 1948 refugees can return to their homes. Constituents of Mr. Abbas can testify that they too face American pressure to resolve their differences.
Third, “national interest” never surfaces in her argument, as if one could explore a great power’s foreign policy only by delving into domestic politics. President Obama’s initiative, drawing on arguments by Gen. Petraeus and National Security Advisor Gen. Jones, references America’s strategic interests in the region, as did Secretary of State Rice in a speech in Jerusalem three years ago. Surely this has to be understood as part of the relevant background for the current initiative.
Finally, the columnist assumes that Democrats are not attentive to the concerns of their Jewish supporters and have no deep personal ties to Israel, its security and its independence. Their professions of support, she says, “ring hollow.” This would certainly shock both AIPAC and J Street, who have given tangible evidence to American Jews that the contrary is true.
This bitter diatribe against the Obama administration and Congressional Democrats does not express the sentiments of most American Jews. Nor does it reflect the overwhelming support, which the eight-term Democratic congressman in our district receives from his Jewish constituents. We recognize, nonetheless, the importance in our open society of minority views, no matter how stridently stated, even when the arguments are flawed and the evidence is lacking.
Daniel P. Resnick