Yoel Bin-Nun

The day after: An open letter to President Biden

Image by Eduardo Castro from Pixabay.

Jewish tradition maintains that all world leaders are chosen by G-d.

Thank G-d that you were chosen to lead America, and thank G-d that you act as a friend of the Jewish People and the Nation of Israel.

Dear President Biden –

I write to you as an Israeli who was born in Haifa two years before the State of Israel was established. I fought in the Six-Day War in Jerusalem, and in Suez during the Yom Kippur War. I now live in Gush Etzion, south of Jerusalem, in the place where my wife was born. I played a role in the establishment of Yeshivat Har Etzion, where hundreds of American students come every year to study Torah in the land of our forefathers.

I am writing to you because I value and appreciate the deep connection that you have with the Zionist movement and the State of Israel, but I fear that the advisers surrounding you may not be telling you the whole truth about our situation, truths that are essential for you to know as a true friend of Israel.

  1. You have insisted that Israel permit humanitarian aid to enter Gaza to support the civilians there. But you must know that Hamas controls the roads in Gaza and that they take control of the trucks that enter, stealing the fuel and supplies to further their interests. It is painful and unfortunate, but your humanitarian aid strengthens Hamas.
    The only way for America to pressure Hamas is to make clear to Qatar – which controls Hamas by means of its financial support – that they must offer an ultimatum to Hamas:If they do not leave Gaza, they will lose their funding. This is the only way to end the fighting and bring true humanitarian aid to the citizens of Gaza.
  1. Israel offered Gazan civilians a way to leave the areas of fighting, and hundreds of thousands indeed escaped to safety. Hamas has tried to stop this movement, which leaves them solely responsible for the deaths of thousands of Palestinians, including women and children. Hamas killed them – not Israel!
    If America presented this reality to the United Nations and to those organizations that are concerned with the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, perhaps Hamas would be forced to surrender to international pressure.
  1. Do the Russians warn Ukrainian civilians to leave before they bomb them, as Israel does in Gaza? Did America offer those opportunities in Korea or in Vietnam? Did the Allies warn German civilians before bombing Dresden in 1945? Did America send warnings in Japanese before dropping atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki?
    Why is Israel the only country that is required to act in an “ethical” manner in a war that Hamas planned and initiated, and yet is still condemned by the United Nations and Western nations around the world?
  1. Hamas claims that it is fighting in order to have Palestinian refugees return to their home in Jaffa, which they claim is supported by UN Resolution 194 regarding the return of refugees from 1948. It is well-known that no other refugee group – all of whom are served by the UN Refugee Agency, the UNHCR – has been granted a “right of return” to their country of origin. Unique among all refugees, the Palestinian refugees from 1948 have their own UN agency, UNRWA, and both claim a “right of return” and bequeath their status as refugees to their children and grandchildren.
    The sole purpose of this special status is to perpetuate wars against Israel, a nation that accepted more than a million refugees after 1948, Jews who were forced to flee Arab and Muslim countries at that time.The attitude of the United Nations toward Israel in this context borders on antisemitism and is one of the main causes of the ongoing wars in the Middle East. Yet America is the main funder of UNRWA, almost all of whose employees are Hamas members.If America wants to see a “new day” after the current war, it must demand that the UN cancel Resolution 194 and insist that UNRWA be subsumed by UNHCR so that all refugees receive the same rights and responsibilities. Only by making these demands can there be hope for “a new Middle East” after the war in Gaza is over.

I have many other things to write, but for the moment I will limit myself to these important matters.

President Biden – While you are under no obligation to respond to me, I do hope that you will read these words and consider them seriously.

I will close with the Hebrew blessing for “goodbye” – Shalom – a blessing for peace.


Yoel Bin-Nun

About the Author
Dr. Rabbi Yoel bin Nun is one of the founders of Yeshivat Har Etzion. He received his rabbinic training at Yeshiva Merkaz HaRav and his Ph.D. from Hebrew University. In 1986, he established Michlelet Yaakov Herzog for training Jewish Studies teachers, especially in Bible instruction. Between 2000-2006 he served as the Rosh Ha-Yeshiva of Yeshivat HaKibbutz HaDati in Ein Tzurim.
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