President Barack H. Obama
The White House
Washington, D. C.
Dear Mr. President:
My name is David Montefiore. My friends will probably say, well we’ve known for many years that Montefiore has been staunchly pro-Israel and thinks of Israel as his homeland. They’re right but only in part because in reality I’m staunchly American and staunchly pro – the American Dream. I think it is fair to say that those who have criticism for Israel also have criticism for the United States. No, Israel’s not perfect – neither are we Americans. But what is most important is that what protrudes from all the media hype is that Israel was, is and will be our staunchest ally.
Why should I be telling my fellow Americans and especially my fellow Jewish Americans what I think. Well then – let me tell you about myself Mr. President.
I was born in worn-torn England. My father maintained his position of First Cantor of the United Kingdom in London during the Battle of Britain and the Blitz while his entire family was being wiped out by the Nazis only a few kilometers away across the English Channel in Belgium. Like so many Jews, I grew up knowing the warmth of family but also the fear and shadow of war and discrimination. That discrimination did not disappear when I came to the U S but followed me throughout school and a stint in the US Air Force and service in Vietnam. For the main, I became a well treated young American citizen just like many other émigrés to this wonderful country.
I have had a wonderful and arduous career as a cantor and opera singer which took me all over the world from New York to Buenos Aires from Los Angeles to Jerusalem and back, many times over. I eventually became president of the American Vietnam Veterans for the Arts Foundation, the American Opera Repertory Company, The Jewish Ministers Cantors Association of America and Canada, The Cantors Conservatory and Team leader for Don Goldwater’s bid for the governorship of Arizona. Finally, I am voting member of the Grammys the National Academy of Radio Arts and Sciences. Living through these experiences has made me even prouder of my Jewish Heritage and the mantel of Americanism that I have adopted. Understanding the freedoms afforded to me and other Jews; the United States has given me great pride. Because of the United States government’s stance towards Israel, vis a vis solidifying its alliance with an ancient people practicing modern day democracy in a part of the world where democracy has had little or no success or chance for survival – the Middle East – I have fought to keep this union steadfast.
The thought of a diminished American-Israeli friendship and alliance is an anathema to me and most Americans Jews and Americans who share a kinship with the Civilized Western World’s genesis of all of our beginnings.
Therefore, I feel it is time to caution those who lead us and those who pretend to speak for us. For the multitudes are neither Democrat nor Republican; they seek only to live in a world of freedom and especially religious freedom. It is not only important to live in a world free of Bin Ladens, free of ISIS – but free of any of their doctrines and beliefs. Free to live an overt life of tolerance and not in a clandestine world of hate and discrimination. We must be free of it all. We cannot remain silent when our leaders buckle to pressure from jihadi extremists and offer parts of a sovereign state in exchange for peace. Peace garnered by appeasement cannot last because the lion will again become hungry for more. Once the beast is satiated he will come again to the table – most often there will be nothing to offer and so the lamb will be devoured – for no other reason but for the lust and taste of it
Unfortunately the enemy, the jihadi extremists, have tasted American blood and the blood of Israelis, Christians and most of all innocent Muslims. In order to scatter a den of wolves one must first kill the leader of the pack but most important is not to invite him to dine with you at dinner. If Hamas has sworn to destroy Israel then it cannot come to dinner – it cannot come to the bargaining table. Iran has sworn to destroy Israel then it may not come to the table [unless it disarms unilaterally]. If Egypt evolves with the Moslem Brotherhood at the helm it may not sit under the date palms and consider its treaty with Israel because the Brotherhood was responsible for the death of Anwar Sadat – the chief peacemaker in the region. Having a degree at the Wharton School of business will not guarantee one’s success in Wall Street neither will a degree at Harvard guarantee one’s success with middle-Eastern politics. Even if one were to immerse oneself in mid-eastern politics 365 days of the year; one could not fully grasp the current situation because this conflict has gone on for thousands of years. One cannot reach into the desert and re-arrange the sands of time. Mr. President, you have a unique opportunity and that is to change hats for a moment in time. Change your professorial hat so that as a student wanting to learn about what it is like as an archeologist sifting through the sands of Memphis.
As a proud American Jew, I say to you Mr. President please revisit the history of Judea circa the Temple of Solomon and reassess Israel’s Sovereignty and its rights and forbearance in that region.
The Congress of the United States of America, the ultimate representative of the American People, has listened with great enthusiasm to Prime Minister Bibi Natanyahu and will soon consider the recent accord with Iran. If their decision is not to support the treaty, do not fight them. You have a chance to be thought of in the history books to come as an F D R rather than a Neville Chamberlain. The choice is yours.
With very best wishes to you and your family.
May God Bless the United States of America.
Cantor David Montefiore, O. S. J.
The Jewish Ministers Cantors Association of
America and Canada