Responding to concerns of the Jewish community over pressuring Israel’s government, President Obama has written a letter to Jewish leaders, assuring them that special relations between the United States and Israel will not change.
Obama addressed the letter to Alan Solow, chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations and a personal acquaintance of Obama from Chicago.
“I am sure you can distinguish between the noise and distortion about my views that have appeared recently, and the actual approach of my Administration toward the Middle East,” Obama wrote in the April 20 letter.
Obama stated that pursuing a two-state solution in the Middle East “is in the national security interest of the United States.” He stressed that although peacemaking is a top priority of his administration, he recognizes that “peace cannot be imposed from the outside; it must be negotiated directly by the leaders who are required to make the hard choices and compromises that take on history.”
The president’s letter, written in response to concerns raised by Jewish communal leaders in talks with Obama’s aides, focused on reassuring the community that relations with Israel are as strong as ever, despite differences regarding the peace process and settlements.
“As we continue to strive for lasting peace agreements between Israel, the Palestinians, and Israel’s neighbors, all sides should understand that our commitment to Israel’s security is unshakable and that no wedge will be driven between us,” Obama wrote. “We will have our differences, but when we do, we will work to resolve them as close allies.”
In a statement issued on April 21, Solow welcomed Obama’s letter and added, “We look forward to working with President Obama and his team on a full range of issues of immediate importance, including the Middle East peace process and Iran.”
Obama’s letter is the latest in a series of attempts by the administration to improve relations with the Jewish community and address concerns raised regarding tensions between Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. These attempts included a conference call held by Daniel Shapiro, who is in charge of Middle East affairs at the National Security Council, as well as speeches by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, National Security Adviser James Jones and Senior Adviser David Axelrod. Obama and Clinton also issued statements on the occasion of Israel’s 62 independence day, in which they stressed that bonds between the United States and Israel are unshakable.
Contact Nathan Guttman at email@example.com
Nathan Guttman, staff writer, is the Forward’s Washington bureau chief. He joined the staff in 2006 after serving for five years as Washington correspondent for the Israeli dailies Haaretz and The Jerusalem Post. In Israel, he was the features editor for Ha’aretz and chief editor of Channel 1 TV evening news. He was born in Canada and grew up in Israel. He is a graduate of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.