15 April 2010
In an open letter to US President Barack Obama, Ronald S. Lauder, the president of the World Jewish Congress (WJC), today writes that Jews around the world are concerned about “the dramatic deterioration of diplomatic relations between the United States and Israel” in recent months. Lauder emphasizes that Israel has made unprecedented concessions, including the most far-reaching settlement moratorium in its history, and declared its support for a two-state solution. The WJC president asks: “Why does the thrust of this Administration's Middle East rhetoric seem to blame Israel for the lack of movement on peace talks? After all, it is the Palestinians, not Israel, who refuse to negotiate.”
Lauder also queries President Obama on America’s wider strategy for the Middle East: “The Administration's desire to improve relations with the Muslim world is well known. But is friction with Israel part of this new strategy? Is it assumed worsening relations with Israel can improve relations with Muslims? History is clear on the matter: appeasement does not work. It can achieve the opposite of what is intended.”
He asks: “What is the Administration's position on Israel's borders in any final status agreement? Ambiguity on this matter has provoked a wave of rumors and anxiety. Can it be true that America is no longer committed to a final status agreement that provides defensible borders for Israel? Is a new course being charted that would leave Israel with the indefensible borders that invited invasion prior to 1967?”
In his letter, Ronald S. Lauder also urges the US president to stay focused on Iran, which he calls “the single biggest threat that confronts the world today.” Lauder goes on to write: “Israel is not only America's closest ally in the Middle East, it is the one most committed to this Administration's declared aim of ensuring Iran does not get nuclear weapons.” Ending his letter, the WJC president stresses: “Our great country and the tiny State of Israel have long shared the core values of western democracy. It is a bond much treasured by the Jewish people…It is time to end our public feud with Israel and to confront the real challenges that we face together.”
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