Dear President Obama: Please Invite Me to the White House During Netanyahu’s Congressional Speech

Dear President Obama,

You don’t know my name, though you know the names of those who represent hundreds of thousands of American Jews who, like me, publicly support your diplomatic efforts with Iran.

And while you don’t know my name, you know that I and those like me represent 52 percent of U.S. Jews who support your diplomatic efforts over those presented by Congressional Republicans and Israel’s Prime Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, who are now shamelessly working in concert, behind your back, to undermine your administration’s historic gains.

As the leader of Israel, Netanyahu often claims to speak for all Jews, absurdly conflating his political ideals with those of American Jewry. But he does not speak for most of us. Indeed, there are over three million American Jews for whom he does not speak. Over three million voices in the American Jewish community who reject current efforts to scuttle historic nuclear negotiations with Iran. Who reject efforts to undermine peaceful diplomacy. And who reject John Boehner’s outrageous breach of protocol by inviting a foreign leader to deliver a response to your State of the Union address.

I know you are rightly outraged, viewing Netanyahu as having spat in your face after your consistent defense of Israel on the international stage. I know that you and officials in your administration feel as though there should be consequences for what is about to transpire on March 3, when Netanyahu will rise before Congress as the leader of a foreign ‘ally’ and publicly reject your diplomatic efforts for political gain back home.

This, in my view, should be the consequence: the amplification of ‘pro-Israel’ voices like mine in the American Jewish community who reject Netanyahu, be it for his desire to bomb Iran, his desire to continue Israel’s occupation of the Palestinians or his expansion of settlements and rejection of peace.

I’m not actually asking for a personal invitation to the White House, though I would certainly not turn one down. What I’m asking is that you invite American Jewish leaders and activitsts to the White House on March 3 to publicly amplify those liberal and progressive voices Netanyahu claims to represent. I’m asking that you use this as an opportunity to reveal to the American public that most American Jews see Netanyahu as a harmful force, both in Israel, in the Middle East and in the world. I’m asking that you give us a chance to support your diplomatic efforts with Iran passionately and eloquently as Congress rises repeatedly to applaud Netanyahu’s damaging rhetoric.

And after you have done so, I ask that you invite civil leaders and activists in the Iranian-American and Palestinian-American communities in order to amplify their pro-diplomacy, pro-peace voices.

The New York Times calls what Israel and the GOP have done to be a disrespectful “breach of sense and diplomacy.” What NYT editors did not say is that this breach is an opportunity, now that the hole is gaping, for you to counter Netanyahu’s voice with powerful ones which exist within the nation you lead.

I ask that you let us help you lead.

Best,
An American Jew

-ยง-What Do You Buy For the Children
David Harris-Gershon is author of the memoir What Do You Buy the Children of the Terrorist Who Tried to Kill Your Wife?, published recently by Oneworld Publications.

Follow him on Twitter @David_EHG.

 

14 thoughts on “Dear President Obama: Please Invite Me to the White House During Netanyahu’s Congressional Speech

  1. You claim above to be a pro-Israel voice. Are you going to walk the walk and vote for the progressive Zionist slate, Hatikvah, in the elections for the World Zionist Congress. If you are serious about wanting to elevate serious progressive voices in the pro-Israel community, you’ll do so.

  2. .

    Because my political views are often misrepresented, here is a personal-political statement, vis-a-vis Israel, which I published on January 5, 2014:

    I am a progressive Zionist who believes firmly in the idea that Israel should be a Jewish, democratic state, despite the inherent challenges and contradictions such an existence presents. I am also one who fully supports a two-state political solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in which each side is able to live within defined, secure borders.

    I believe that economic sanctions, such as boycotts, are legitimate forms of nonviolent protest, in contrast to, say, violence or vandalism. I do not, however, subscribe to the BDS movement or its implicit vision of a single, bi-national state as a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. While I am saddened by the fact that Palestinians do not have full academic freedoms, I do not support the academic boycott of Israeli universities and institutions as a productive tactic. And while I have written extensively on the suffering Israel’s continued occupation has brought upon Palestinians living in the West Bank, and while I support pressure being brought to bear upon Israel to reject its settlement enterprise and push toward a final peace agreement, I reject those anti-Semitic streams which unofficially surface within the BDS movement.

    I support Palestinians’ right to use BDS as a nonviolent form of opposition to those Israeli policies which harm them greatly, just as I view America’s use of sanctions against Iran to be wholly legitimate, despite my opposition to current efforts to increase such sanctions as a way to destroy diplomatic gains.

    Indeed, I view boycotts and sanctions to be a legitimate form of nonviolent opposition as a general principle. And I firmly stand in opposition to those Israeli policies – the ongoing occupation and settlement expansions – which stand in the way of peace, oppress Palestinians and threaten Israel’s long-term survival.

    Those comments which try to misrepresent my views will be deleted.

  3. Ues, because you’re the appropriate counterpart to Israel’s PM. And you speak for millions. You, who promote BF and pretend you can separate the parts you like from the parts that are inconvenient. You don’t, and will never, speak for me or a single Jew I know.

  4. For all those Jews who are worried about the rise of antisemitism & call all protest to Israel’s policies toward the Palestinians antisemetic, consider Netanyahu’s meddling in American domestic politics as a reinforcement of the age old stereotype of the Jewish conspiracy. This would be an unfortunate blowback to Bibi’s acceptance of the Republican invitation to address congress.

    David’s suggestion would be an effective way to show that there is a difference in opinion of American Jews to counter the bigoted perception of the “Jewish Conspiracy”.

    • Bif,
      There is no need to respond to those who think in terms of a “Jewish conspiracy.” If you think there is, then the problem is all yours.

  5. It is disappointing Harris Gershon does not recognize the importance of PM Netanyahu’s speaking out against the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Instead, Harris-Gershon and many other so called progressives or liberals willfully ignore the gross human rights violations committed by Iran, including the execution of gay men, the subjugation of women, support of terror against US troops, support of international terror, their very often stated desire to annihilate Israel as well as the practical issue of limited freedoms for their own people.

  6. David Harris-Gershon at the Jewish Tikkun Magazine, said earlier: “Israel Has Lost the Gaza War.” Harris-Gershon explains that “Israeli decision to unilaterally end its Gaza operation means, Israel has lost a tragic war it did not need to begin, a war Hamas did not want but in the end fully embraced as well, making both parties culpable for all that remains. Or no longer remains. Israel’s loss is the worst possible outcome for all parties involved, from Palestinians in Gaza to Israelis in Tel Aviv and beyond. All that is left is the continuation of an unsustainable and dangerous status quo, the reverberations of unspeakable suffering and even more intense and stratified conflict. Nothing has been gained. Everything has been lost”.

    http://rehmat1.com/2014/08/04/israel-defeated-in-gaza-looks-for-exit-strategy/

  7. Does any body noticed a very clear and bright color trend, that anyone who disagrees with Israel, or the Zionists narrative, behavior or discourse is considered an anemy and Antisemite? Do all Jews/ most Jews ( including the ones who post here)really believe that Israel/ Zionists and their politicians can do no wrong and have done none? That is just amazing ,all by it self!?

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