Jan Lee

An Open Letter to President Obama

Dear President Obama,

Tonight, on the close of one of Israel’s most traumatic days, I still sit waiting. As one who had voted for you in the last two elections, who has benefited from your courageous and compassionate initiatives to bring healthcare and better resources to low and middle-income Americans, who has written about your efforts to help impoverished peoples across the globe, I naturally expected that a day like today would usher a quick,  heartfelt and unequivocal statement of compassion and support from you regarding the terror attacks that Israel and Jews have endured in recent days.

As I am sure you would say, there is a difference between the empowering words we say to those in need and the denouncement we offer in statement. So no, I was not looking for a well-timed speech of condemnation, a political policy or a finely edited view on the global nature of Middle East politics. Compassion and empathy following such atrocities aren’t expressed that way – nor are the values of friendship. Such statements transcend political differences that exist between colleagues and leaders of other nations. They show that irrespective of the political stalemate you may be trying courageously to break, you are willing to take a stand to support and show alliance to the humanitarian rights of a people and a nation threatened by unmitigated terror attacks.

America may believe it is the front line on terror, but most know it is not. Respectfully, the United States owns no title in the number of terror attacks or the breadth of atrocities it has endured. Israel does. A country far smaller than the size of California, the heart, soul and religious birthplace of more than 5 million of your constituents, survives by the daily ingenuity and political chutzpah of its leaders and its military every day. The United States holds no bar over Israel when it comes to the terrors of a sworn enemy. But it is moved by millions of heartbeats when an ally like the United States speaks up on its behalf.

President Obama, I support your drive for peace. I value your courage. I applaud and hope you will continue your efforts for a sincere and impassioned peace agreement between Israel and those who envisage the path of a peaceful Palestinian nation. But first I must wait for your message that Israelis, irrespective of their religious, cultural or historical lineage, have been wronged by the atrocious attacks of the last few days, and that the U.S. and you, will not stand silent to intentional terrorism against Israel.

I remain, waiting.

About the Author
Jan Lee's articles and blog posts have appeared in a variety of publications, including B'nai B'rith Magazine, the Jewish Independent (Vancouver, Canada), Baltimore Jewish Times. She is also a regular contributor to various business, environmental and travel publications. Lee lives in British Columbia, Canada.
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