The meeting arranged by the IVoteIsrael campaign group this past week with Republican Jewish Coaliton director Matt Brooks and former White House spokesperson Ari Fleischer (the Democrats will get their turn soon, I understand) was an amazing development. Not only is what IVoteIsrael doing an exercise in civic responsibility but reflects what should be the mature attitude of politics: we get elected and you elect us.
I voted in the 1968 US Presidential elections, before moving to Israel in 1970. I have always considered the link between the democracies of Israel and America, not only to be of historic importance, such as the John Adams letter, the Ararat project, Warder Cresson immigrating to Jerusalem in 1844 to the Brandeis impact beginning in 1912 but a forged bond of civilization, sanity and freedom in this world of us that needs to be protected.
True, America and Zionism have had their ups and downs. In 1891, U.S. Consul in Jerusalem, Selah Merrill, had concluded that "Palestine is not ready for the Jews. The Jews are not ready for Palestine." There was the King-Crane Commission. And later, in 1923, Vice Consul Monroe H. Kline reported: "It is common knowledge that this race of people [Jews] are continually and constantly spreading propaganda, through their agencies over the entire world, of political and religious persecution." But in October 1917, after meetings with Brandeis, President Wilson did facilitate the Zionist goals with his “I do” memo to Colonel House on the then-being-formulated Balfour Declaration. As David Neff notes:
“Congress on 11 September 1922 [passed]…a joint resolution favoring a Jewish homeland in Palestine. The words of the resolution practically echoed the Balfour Declaration…sponsored by Senator Henry Cabot Lodge and Representative Hamilton Fish and signed by President Warren G. Harding…Like Wilson's 1918 letter endorsing Balfour, the [State] department simply ignored it. When an Italian diplomat directly asked a State Department officer whether the resolution represented the official policy of the United States Government, the diplomat merely smiled.
And there was the Anglo-American Convention of 1924 which committed America by treaty to the terms of the Mandate to reconstitute Palestine as the Jewish National Home and was used in 1939 in an attempt to thwart the British White Paper which the Mandates Commission thought that
…the policy set out in the White Paper was not in accordance with the interpretation which in agreement with the mandatory Power and the Council, the Commission had always placed upon the Palestine mandate.
Living in Yesha, here in Shiloh, beyond the Green Line, I have acted vigorously, to my mind, to strengthen relations between American citizens residing here in Judea and Samaria and the United States on multiple levels, thorugh contacts with the Jerusalem US Consulate despite its rather strident pro-Arab positions of late and blatant discriminatory and, I consider, illegal policies towards American Jews living in the Jewish communities throughout Yesha.
I have hosted two Senators in my living room, briefed two others at the Consulate, toured with five Congressmen in Samaria, traveled to Washington to Capitol Hill and alos urged the creation of a special group of American Jewish citizens residing in Yesha.
Basically, it would be a task force in order to mobilize those Americans living in Yesha to engage in political and hasbara activity in the United States, to communicate with their U.S. Congressmen and Senators and provide material to their “hometown” newspapers. Already three years ago, and actually more than a decade earlier in the framework of the Foreign Desk of the Yesha Council, the task force will mobilize these Americans to register to vote and work with the “Democrats Abroad” and “Republicans Abroad” organizations in Israel.
The efforts of IVoteIsrael, then, are quite commendable.
The meeting itself was informative and the dialogue with the guests was welcomed. (see Sharon's post)
Did you know that 30% of American citizens living in Israel have never voted in a US election? That out of 160,000+ voters, less that 25% voted in 2008? But that perhaps as many as 55% will be voting this year?
If you have not registered as yet, do so. I have.
It’s your right, it’s your obligation.