Enough of silence

November 18, 2012

With rockets flying and bombs falling, our hearts and prayers go out to all impacted by this latest violence. Those who grieve the loss of loved ones. Those suffering from injury and trauma. Those huddled in shelters, homes and schools dreading the next blast or siren.

We thank President Obama and those in the international community working to achieve a ceasefire. We urge every effort to de-escalate this conflict as quickly as possible.

Israel has the right and obligation to defend itself against rocket fire and against those who refuse to recognize its right to exist and inexcusably use terror and violence to achieve their ends.

Now with Israeli forces poised for a possible ground invasion and rockets flying closer to Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, we must ask whether actions being taken today advance long-term security and stop the cycle of suffering. Do they bring us closer to ending this conflict in two states for two peoples, or do they leave us farther away?

Four years ago, those of us who critiqued Operation Cast Lead asked whether massive military action would end the rockets and make Israel more secure.

Clearly, we have our answer. Today, rockets are more numerous and powerful. Israel is more isolated in its region and more ostracized around the world.

And now the cycle begins again – and we must not be silent.

Military action may stop the rockets for a while at a cost of hundreds or even thousands injured or dead.

But military force alone is inadequate as a response to the broader strategic challenge Israel faces. Only a political resolution to the century-old conflict with the Palestinians resulting in two states living side by side can end the conflict.

Without that, in a few short years, we’ll be right back here again: anger deeper, rockets more powerful, and political forces yet more extreme.

Sadly, too few in Israeli politics today are willing to say that the strategic threat to the survival of Israel is not the rockets from Gaza, but the failure to achieve two states before it is too late.

Even more sadly, there is apparently little audience in Israel for such a message. We are told the Israeli people have given up on peace, that we shouldn’t talk of peace, that it’s a dirty word today.

Our message to Israel’s government, and to our friends and family must be clear: we love you, we care about you, and the volcano on whose edge you sit is on the verge of erupting. We back your right to respond to unconscionable rocket fire, but we do not accept complacency or the argument that there is nothing to be done to resolve the conflict.

Our message to Washington must be equally clear: the United States remains essential to ending to this deadly conflict.

We thank the Obama administration for working hard to achieve a ceasefire that ends this present round of violence before it escalates.

We also are grateful to Washington for the Iron Dome missile defense system, which has saved lives and almost certainly prevented deeper escalation of this round of violence.

But, beyond the short-term, we look to the White House for even greater leadership.

We reject the argument that the United States cannot want peace more than the parties themselves. Since when is the policy of the government of the United States set by actors who move in directions counter to our national or the world’s interest?

We call on the President of the United States to step forward in his second term with a bold new effort to resolve this conflict.

Without a serious effort promoted by the President to achieve two states now, we may well witness the end of our dream for Israel to exist as a democratic homeland for the Jewish people.

Enough of tears and bloodshed – a great Prime Minister of Israel said before he was tragically gunned down seventeen years ago this month.

Enough of silence, we say.

The loud and clear lesson from the latest violence for President Obama must be that we cannot avoid acting boldly to end this conflict now – before it is too late.

Send President Obama a message today to thank him for working towards a ceasefire and telling him that his leadership is more important than ever to achieve peace.