Obama to U.S. Jews: Nothing will distance us from Israel
U.S. President sends rare letter to Major Jewish Organizations, says his views on Mideast misrepresented.
As relations between Israel and Washington lurch from crisis to crisis, President Barack Obama has had to face down criticism over his Middle East policy from within the United States.
The president on Wednesday sent a rare letter to Alan Solow, chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations and a long-term Obama ally, in an attempt to allay Jewish fears that the United States is distancing itself from Israel.
In the letter, Obama emphasized his commitment to Israeli ties, saying his policy on the Middle East had been misinterpreted.
"I am sure you can distinguish between the noise and distortion about my views that have appeared recently, and the actual approach of my administration toward the Middle East," Obama wrote.
He continued: "All sides should understand that our commitment to Israel is unshakeable and that no wedge will be driven between us."
The letter follows a week of open tensions between the U.S. government and Jewish community leaders after World Jewish Congress president Ronald Lauder took out newspaper advertisements criticizing Obama's Middle East policy.
A day later, Nobel laureate Elie Wisel did the same, writing in a full page advertisement in the Washington Post that U.S. pressure would not force a solution to the dispute over Israeli building in East Jerusalem.
"For me, the Jew that I am, Jerusalem is above politics," Wiesel wrote. "It is mentioned more than six hundred times in Scripture - and not a single time in the Koran...the first song I heard was my mother's lullaby about and for Jerusalem."
Obama told Solow that while he remained dedicated to a two-state solution to Israel's conflict with the Palestinians, his government would not impose a peace settlement.
"I am deeply committed to fulfilling the important role the United States must play for peace to be realized, but I also recognize that in order for any agreement to endure, peace cannot be imposed from the outside," he wrote.