Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Open Letter to President Obama
Dear President Obama,
I will keep this short and sweet, because you've got a long to-do-list. You should know that last night I had a small get-together to mark the occasion of your inauguration. I think this was the only such event of its kind in the city of Jerusalem. An Israeli Army radio journalist came to document the event and interview us afterwords. We drank a cheap Israeli beer called Goldstar, ate Doritos, and had a nice evening overall. (Next time you're in town look me up, and I'll take you out for a Goldstar on me.)
The speech didn't matter to me as much as the pictures. To see a you, a black man take the oath of office as President of the United States was not something I expected to see in my lifetime. You are proof that cynics are sometimes wrong. You are also proof that Martin Luther King was probably right when he said, "The arc of history is long, but it bends towards justice."
In a long list of failed policies, I think that Bush's ostracism of the Muslim world was the most devastating. That Tuesday in September of 2001 initiated America's greatest challenge since WWII. Bush's presidency, our first chance at meeting that challenge, went awfully wrong. We took the world's sympathy for granted by invading a Muslim country without any international support or moral conviction. And then after destroying the country and killing thousands of people, there was no plan on how to stabilize it. Confusion was created as to who was the bigger terrorist, our President Bush or Osama Bin Laden.
My favorite line from your speech referred to how you will try and correct this particular failure:
“To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect,” you said. “To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history — but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist."
I am part of the small minority of Americans in Israel who voted for you. I didn't vote for you because you are black. I voted for you because you were the most exceptional candidate for the world's most exceptional job. The fact that you were elected despite your skin color has restored my faith in the idea of America and inspired billions. But now the love-in is over. It is Day 1. Time to get to work. Be fair, be tough, be bold, and you will change the horrid reality here in the Middle East. More than anything I beg you to please end the world's addiction to oil. Not only does it fuel cars and planes but it fuels most of the wars in this region. Think clean, renewable energy. It will make the planet cooler (temperature-wise), and also stimulate jobs and forge a shining new industry in America. We created this global recession, but we can also lead the world out of it. I believe that clean energy is the key to continued American hegemony. More importantly, it will make American values enviable and emulated once again.
Good Luck Mr. President.