March 22: No provocations

I ask those who wish to protest to reconsider their decision. I see no good reason to needlessly provoke the president.

Letters 370 (photo credit: REUTERS/Handout )
Letters 370
(photo credit: REUTERS/Handout )
No provocations
Sir, – It has come to my attention that some Israeli Jewish leaders believe that during the visit of US President Barack Obama to Israel, it is their duty to protest his policies and perhaps even behave in insulting ways, for example by walking out of his speeches or other gatherings, or by not attending at all.
I would like to remind these individuals that after they have finished with their protests or antics we, the people of Israel, and also the Israeli government, will have to live with Obama for the next several years.
The US president’s good will could be of great importance during that time. Thus, I ask those who wish to protest to reconsider their decision. I see no good reason to needlessly provoke the president, nor can I envision any positive relations or policies coming as a result.
Too late
Sir, – Unfortunately, no one seems to have pushed the view that US President Barack Obama should visit and see for himself what most of the world considers the major obstacle to peace – the Jewish settlements.
By learning and seeing the “facts on the ground” and understanding, by viewing personally, the “settlement blocs” and how they would not be dismantled by any Israeli government, Obama could see that by taking these blocs off the negotiating table, the Palestinians, with land swaps, could achieve peace with us.
Both sides need to face realities. After seeing and speaking to the common citizen, the US president could leave here with a better view of our reality.
Obama, starting his lame-duck term, can be flexible in his international relations and need not be tied to political repercussions.
Usually, Israel and its supporters are wary of such situations, but in this case it could work to our advantage: Obama could go to our adversaries and say that former president George W. Bush signed off on an agreement with then-prime minister Ariel Sharon for Israel to keep the settlement blocs, which house over 90 percent of the Jewish citizens of Judea and Samaria.
Better than his reading dry facts, it would have been good to have the US president tour Gush Etzion, Ma’aleh Adumim or Ariel.
Sir, – In “US President Barack Obama to arrive in Israel today” (March 20), Herb Keinon prominently reports that the president’s “passing over Israel during his first term, while visiting Egypt, Turkey and Saudi Arabia, became a hot issue in the recent US elections.”
If so, it was due to misinformation from the Israeli media and Republican campaign rhetoric.
Before Obama came, only four US presidents visited Israel. The two Democrats – Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton – visited in their first terms, the Republicans in their second – Richard Nixon during his sixth (and last) year in office, and George W. Bush in his eighth and last year.
Ronald Reagan, in all of his eight years as president, did not visit once.
So Obama is the third Democrat to visit, and he did so earlier than either of the two Republicans.
How many people know this? And even before the visit, the president met with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu 10 times, more than with any other world leader.
It is unclear why anyone thinks Obama insufficiently supports Israel, as Israeli defense and security officials have always said that cooperation between the two countries was never closer.
Hopefully, this visit will remove some of the irrationality.
JAMES ADLER Cambridge, Massachusetts