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Tuesday, June 07, 2011

An open letter to Leonard Nimoy

Dear Mr. Nimoy,

I am a fan of your work (well, most of it) and as such I read your letter of support for Peace Now with sadness. It appears that you have not researched the issues as thoroughly as one would hope. Americans for Peace Now, the organization you are asking everyone to donate to, is not quite what it appears.

Peace Now is now a marginal organization in Israel. It is not mainstream and its positions do not reflect what most of the Israeli public wants.

That is not to say that Israelis are warmongers; far from it. Every Jew in Israel yearns for peace. Most Israelis support a two-state solution. In fact, even the current Israeli government publicly supports a two-state solution.

The difference is that most Israelis want to ensure that the solution will truly promote peace. They do not want to barrel headfirst into an agreement that could jeopardize their security; they want to ensure that any Palestinian Arab state will not one day turn into an Iranian satellite the way we saw Gaza and southern Lebanon become.

Gaza is instructive. Israel withdrew from the entire territory, yet it did not bring peace. On the contrary, it led to a war, and tens of thousands of Israeli citizens had to live under constant threat of rocket attack. Moreover, thousands of Israelis were uprooted from their homes in order to even bring a chance for peace.

At the time of the withdrawal, Gaza was ruled by the very same Palestinian Authority that Peace Now wants to force Israel to make an agreement "now" with. Yet they could not even control their own territory and Hamas violently took over Gaza.

The Gaza model is exactly what Peace Now demands from Israel, today. They have not learned a thing from that huge failure. Fortunately, the rest of the Israeli public learned the lesson that eludes Peace Now, and Israelis are now far more careful before jumping into any further concessions.

It is not like the Israeli leadership needs outside help in giving up concrete assets for peace. Here you can see how much Israeli governments - especially the "hawkish, far right" Likud - have given up in the often vain hope for peace:


Americans for Peace Now want America to pressure Israel to make concessions that the people are not ready to make, with a partner who is not willing to compromise and which even today routinely refers to Israel as "the enemy." This cynical use of American politics, and their recruiting of spokespeople like you, indicate that they have failed to get their agenda taken seriously by the Israeli people and are instead trying to use outside pressure to convince Israelis "what is really good for them."

This is not showing a love of Israel; it instead shows that they do not respect the Israeli public. It is not as if there isn't robust debate in Israel itself on how a peace plan would work and what compromises are necessary - the subject is a national obsession. The idea that an American actor, no matter how respected, should be used to convince Americans to give money to a movement that cannot gain any traction in the free-wheeling world of Israeli politics is, frankly, insulting to the intelligence of Israelis. 

There are other problems with the organization you have chosen to identify with. For example, Peace Now supports the division of Jerusalem, something that is simply not tenable and would increase the misery of Jew and Arab alike.

Moreover, no organization has worked harder to demonize a significant percentage of the Israeli population than Peace Now. I am speaking about the so-called "settlers" who Peace Now believes are the biggest single impediment to peace. In fact, the Jews who choose to return to the Biblical Land of Israel are among the most patriotic members of Israeli society, serving with pride in the IDF and showing a love of Israel that is difficult to match. Peace Now, however, spends a huge amount of time and money specifically to battle their fellow Israelis who live on the "wrong" side of a mythical line that was never, ever a border between two countries, and was never even meant to be one. 

It is legitimate to question the tactics and life choices of the Jews who live in Judea and Samaria, as it is legitimate to criticize any group of people out of love. Peace Now, however, has spent the bulk of its time treating their fellow Jews as the enemy. I think you could agree, Mr. Nimoy, that there are few enough Jews as it is that we cannot afford the baseless hatred that  Peace Now exhibits towards those they disagree with.

Most Israelis agree that a great majority of these communities across the Green Line will remain a part of Israel, yet this is simply not compatible with how Peace Now acts towards these people. Peace Now actually encourages boycotts and other sanctions against their fellow Israelis and against the wishes of most Israelis altogether. 

This year on Jerusalem Day, a remarkable thing happened. For the first time since Israel reunified Jerusalem, Kohanim ascended to the Temple Mount and blessed the Jews who visited their holiest site. They positioned their hands in a way you are most familiar with, as it is the one that you copied as the Vulcan greeting in Star Trek. 

Jews must have free access to their holiest places - not only in Jerusalem but in Bethlehem, Hebron and elsewhere. Peace Now is against this. It should not be unusual for Jews to be able to ascend to their holiest spot and to be able to pray freely there. 

Your letter refers a number of times to Star Trek, the television show that made you famous. If I may, I would like to mention something else from that show - the Prime Directive. As you no doubt know, this was the most important order that your character and his coworkers had to adhere to - the rule not to interfere in other cultures, even for the best of reasons. 

Israel is not a banana republic, and Israelis are well aware of the dangers they face as well as the necessity for peace. When famous actors deign to tell Israelis what is best for them it is not only a violation of this rule, but it is an insult to the entire country, implying that somehow a person in Hollywood knows better than Israelis do of how they should think and act. 

I hope that you come to realize the wisdom in the mythical Starfleet General Order #1, and show your love for Israel by supporting everyone who is honorable enough to live there, not by supporting division and hate.

May we all live long and prosper.


Elder of Ziyon