The Celebrate Israel Festival on May 31 at Pier 94, slated to be the largest gathering to date of Israeli-Americans in New York.
Dear Mr. President,
I am writing to you because I am afraid.
I have been closely following the rhetoric of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad over the past few months, and I want you to know that I am gripped with a sense of fear.
I fear for the future of Israel and for that of the entire Jewish people, as the would-be Hitler of Persia readies to do battle against us with the most horrific of weapons.
I fear for the future of the West, because outside of Washington, few and far between are the leaders with the common sense and courage to stand up to the Tyrant of Tehran.
And I fear for the future of the world, because if Iran’s fundamentalists get their hands on a nuclear weapon, it will only be a matter of time before their extremist allies abroad become similarly armed.
Hence, I am writing to you because I am convinced that you alone understand and appreciate the gravity of the current situation, and I pray in my heart that you will not let it stand.
I appeal to you now, not as a political analyst nor as a newspaper columnist, but as one man of faith to another: please strike Iran hard with military force, and dismantle their nuclear weapons program, before it is too late.
I know you believe, as I do, that God guides the destiny of men and of nations. And I know you believe, just as I do, that He raised you up to the helms of power precisely at this critical period, to serve as His agent and His instrument in this world.
The God of history has chosen you, Mr. President, just as He did Churchill, and He has entrusted you with a sacred mandate: to save the world from the designs of a madman.
I can tell you that in Israel, a sense of dread has slowly, but surely, begun to sink in. As the Sunday Times of London reported earlier this week, a growing number of my fellow Jews have begun to build underground nuclear shelters adjacent to their homes.
“The shelters,” says the Times, “are built to withstand radioactive fallout, have fortified walls and doors and generate their own electricity and decontaminated air.” Hundreds of such bunkers, reports the paper, have been built in recent months, and “demand is soaring.”
Mr. President, just the other night, I went out with my family for dinner to a restaurant in Herzliya, the city named after Zionist visionary Theodor Herzl, who foresaw the need to establish a safe haven for the Jewish people. Our waitress was an attractive and cheerful young lady who moved to Israel 16 years ago at the age of four from her native Lithuania, where her family had suffered anti-Semitism and persecution.
But when we asked her if she was happy living here in the Jewish state, the smile on her lips quickly faded. Glumly, she answered us with the following words: “That Ahmadinejad of Iran, he scares me. It is a very scary situation.”
And indeed it is, Mr. President, because my people are in danger once again. It was just six decades ago that the Europeans tossed us into Hitler’s ovens and turned six million Jews into ashes. Now, with no shame, they stand by silently as Iran seeks to do the same.
The United Nations is a lost cause, and we have no faith in Russia, China or international institutions. The sad fact is that most of the world will not shed a tear if Mr. Ahmadinejad succeeds in achieving his dreadful aims.
Here in Israel, our own leadership is tired and weak. They have lost their way, and they are no longer anchored in faith. As we saw this past summer in the Lebanon war, they stumble about as though walking in darkness, oblivious to the danger that stalks us all.
There is only one person now, Mr. President, who can stop this terrifying scenario from coming to pass, and I believe that person is you.
I think of you often, and when I do, I am guided in faith to the fourth chapter of the Book of Esther in the Bible, where the evil Persian court officer Haman threatened the Jewish people with extinction. After Mordechai the Jew got wind of Haman’s plot, he passed along a message of great urgency to Queen Esther: “Who knows, perhaps it was precisely for a moment such as this that you have attained power?”
About the Author: Michael Freund is the Founder and Chairman of Shavei Israel. He writes a syndicated column and feature stories for the Jerusalem Post, Israel’s leading English-language daily, and he previously served as Deputy Director of Communications & Policy Planning in the Prime Minister’s Office under Benjamin Netanyahu. A native of New York, he holds an MBA in Finance from Columbia University and a BA from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University.
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