THE WEEKLY STANDARD has obtained a copy of the text of a letter written by conservative leader Gary Bauer to President Obama, challenging the Obama administration’s recent rhetorical assault on Israel. Bauer is circulating the letter to other conservative leaders as signatories, and apparently is getting a strong response.

Here’s the text of the letter:

Dear Mr. President,

In recent days your Administration has unleashed an unprecedented barrage of criticism at Israel, our most reliable ally in the Middle East. The ostensible reason for this assault was a municipal zoning decision permitting construction to continue on a housing division inside Israel's capital city.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu publicly and immediately apologized to the United States and to Vice President Biden personally for the announcement’s awkward timing, which occurred during Biden’s visit. Between two allies, that should have ended the matter. But in the 72 hours that followed, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Senior White House advisor David Axelrod all turned up the rhetorical heat in what the press reports is a concerted effort directed by your Administration to manufacture a crisis that weakens Israel on the eve of new peace talks.

Friends handle disagreements privately. Your public escalation sends a clear message of hostility and has increased tensions in the region. Your actions are likely to delay the resumption of peace talks between Palestinians and Israelis. You are now demanding that Israel make concessions to you on issues that are to be negotiated with the Palestinian Authority.

The building authorized by Israel, as we are sure you know, is not a “settlement,” in the minds of anyone other than Israel’s most committed enemies. Ramat Shlomo is a neighborhood in northern Jerusalem where more than 18,000 people already live. It is clearly understood by everyone, Palestinians included, that Israel regards this area as inside Jerusalem’s municipal borders and would not be included as part of any future Palestinian state.

Were it not so dangerous, the very idea that allowing Israel to build homes in this Jerusalem neighborhood can in any way threaten the peace process would be laughable. Alas, the only ones laughing are Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah, Syria and Iran. We are left to wonder why you have chosen to create a public diplomatic crisis over a zoning issue in Jerusalem.

Adding to our concern is the fact that at the same time you are bludgeoning Israel, your Administration has yet to present any viable policy to stop Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons. You have repeatedly extended an open hand of friendship to Iran, even after Ahmadinejad responds with a clenched fist and poisoned tongue. He is furiously rushing to develop the nuclear weapons he promised to use to destroy Israel and weaken the U.S. through blackmail and intimidation.

Yet you save your own vitriol for Israelis building homes for Jewish families in the Jewish capital. You offer Iran extension after extension for each deadline it fails to meet. You were the last Western leader to condemn Iran’s human rights outrages last June, but the first and only leader to condemn Israel’s decision to build homes for Israelis to live in Jerusalem.

Mr. President, on September 11th, 2001, Americans watched in horror as demonstrations broke out in Palestinian neighborhoods, celebrating the death of 3,000 Americans. In contrast, in Israel they declared a day of mourning, lowered their flag and cried with us. The American people cherish our alliance with Israel because it is based upon our shared experiences and shared values of liberty, freedom and the right to self-defense.

We call on you to immediately stop your attempts to weaken our ally and turn your efforts to the real security threat facing the U.S. and Israel – the prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran.


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