From one Texan to another

Our son Ari, who was killed in battle with Palestinian terrorists, saw the world like you, Mr. President.

bush 88 (photo credit: )
bush 88
(photo credit: )
This is a historic moment for Israel. President George W. Bush - leader of the free world, a champion of the fight against terrorism, and arguably the best friend Israel has had in the White House since Ronald Reagan - is making his first visit as president to our country. No doubt, Mr. Bush (and I hope you are reading this in The Jerusalem Post, Israel's English-language newspaper of choice), you will hear any number of diverse opinions from all kinds of people while you are here: about Israel, the Middle East peace process, terrorism, etc. But I would like to offer you a perspective that is perhaps different from any other you will encounter on your visit. It's the viewpoint of a young man, born and bred in the great city of Dallas, Texas, just down the road a piece from your family ranch in Crawford. He was proud to be an American, and a Texan, too. He even met you on one occasion at the ballpark, when you were managing partner of the Texas Rangers baseball team. I wish that boy could be writing this article himself, instead of me, but Sgt. Ari Weiss, our beloved eldest son, was killed five years ago in a battle against Palestinian terrorists. Ari loved sports and was an excellent athlete. He was a big fan of the Dallas Cowboys - "America's Team" - and I'm sure he would have wanted to be at this weekend's playoff game. But he accompanied us to Israel when we moved here, and came to love this land, volunteering for an elite combat unit when he reached military age, and bravely, selflessly fighting our enemies, until he fell. ARI BELIEVED that this country was akin to the Alamo, that quintessential San Antonio monument to Texas independence and courage. I took Ari to see the Alamo as a young boy, and later explained to him that the State of Israel was a similar kind of fortress, a symbol of Jewish resolve to reclaim our ancient heritage and create a future in the homeland of our past. Ari believed that Jewish destiny would be played out here, in Israel, and not anywhere else, and he wanted to be a part of that great adventure, no matter the risks he had to take. Ari - whose name means "lion" - saw the world a lot like you, Mr. President: a struggle between Good and Evil, Democracy and dictatorship, an unceasing battle between those who would subjugate others and those who just want to live a free and happy life. I told Ari a lot about you before he fell. How you were resolute and strong-minded, determined to hold the course you felt was right despite vicious opposition from others around you. We both admired how you "stuck to your guns" like a real Texan, and called a terrorist a terrorist - not a "freedom fighter" or "activist" - and would give them no clemency or quarter. I SURE hope you haven't changed. I hope you won't pay too much attention to some on the lunatic fringe that we encounter in these here parts sometimes. Like the editor of Haaretz, who told Dr. Rice that Israel "wants to be raped"; or addle-headed members of the government who lose their resolve and talk about freeing mass-murderers like Marwan Barghouti; who propose "giving away the farm" in exchange for useless promises of peace. I suspect that, away from the cameras and tape-recorders, you'd admit you have your own share of crackpots in Congress, with their own nutty ideas. And I love how you smile your smile and just ignore them, dismissing their negativity with perfect Texan phrases like "That dog won't hunt!" You're a model for us, an inspiration, really. You've taught us to draw a bead on what we know is right and never stray from that path, to draw a line in the sand and never yield, despite the pain or pressure. You held back from squeezing Israel - as some of your predecessors did - to make all the concessions, to give in to every demand put upon us. You waged war against terrorists when it was mighty unpopular. You may not have found any weapons of mass destruction, but we certainly have: They're called Hamas, Hizbullah, Iran and Syria - and they're pointed directly at our heart. YOU KNOW, we folks here have a lot in common with folks like you. Why, even our two flags, those of Texas and Israel, are strikingly similar. Both have a single star, a shining light in the darkness, representing a beacon of justice and morality in an all-too-dark world. We each are Lone Star States, standing in the breach, defending what's right, ignoring the threats against us and moving forward, despite the odds. So, Mr. President, here's a plea - a prayer, even - from one Texan to another: Don't lean too hard on the good guys in the white hats (or kippot). Convince the other side, the ones shooting the rockets into our cities every day, the ones who refuse to disarm the terrorists, the ones who blame everybody except themselves for their problems, to stop whining and get busy making their people into respectable citizens of the world. We have faith in you, because you are definitely one of the "good ol' boys." In an age of shrinking volunteerism and flagging idealism, in a world where values and justice are often turned on their heads, you - and Ari - showed us that some things in this world are worth fighting, and dying, for. The writer is director of the Jewish Outreach Center of Ra'anana. [email protected]