The Israelis need to be told over and over again

Following the recent article in the New York Times by Haaretz writer Aluf Benn – essentially arguing that US pressure on Israel just isn’t fair, no, not at all! – a letter writer responds in today’s paper:

Aluf Benn states that “as far as most Israelis are concerned, Mr. Obama has made a mistake in focusing on a settlement freeze. For starters, mainstream Israelis rarely have anything to do with the settlements; many have no idea where they are, even when they’re a half-hour’s drive from Tel Aviv.”

That is precisely why President Obama’s focus on the settlements is so important. Israelis are blithely and tragically unaware of the political, human and domestic costs of the settlements.

Because they don’t go there, they may not even know what the settlements look like. They are solidly built-up residential areas that make the possibility of withdrawal very unlikely — even though most Israelis support a two-state solution that would require such withdrawal.

I’m glad Mr. Obama is drawing attention to this issue, but I, like Mr. Benn, wish he would address Israelis directly.

Michael Weinstock

Omer, Israel, July 28, 2009

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