Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

An Open Letter to the President

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

An Open Letter to the President

Article excerpt

Waging Peace

A nationwide Internet campaign to garner public support for sustained U.S. leadership in achieving a two-state resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was launched April 14 at the National Press Club. The Campaign for American Leadership in the Middle East (CALME) will oversee the technical and public affairs aspects of the campaign and its Web site, ().

Citing U.S. national security interests as a key motivating factor, more than a hundred U.S. political, military, business, academic, religious, philanthropic and NGO leaders have signed an open letter to President George W. Bush supporting his commitment to achieving a two-state resolution to the conflict. Visitors to the Web site are asked to add their names to the letter (see box).

General Joseph Ralston, former Supreme Allied commander, Europe and commander, U.S. European Command, noted that CALME was non-partisan and held no positions on what the final outcome of negotiations would look like. The general reminded reporters that when the American people responded forcefully and vocally to the tsunami disaster, the administration finally took notice, and Bush sent two former presidents to help tsunami victims. Pointing to a map of the United States with dots marking zip codes from letter signatories, Ralston said he'd like a "tsunami of red dots" to send a message to the president that Middle East peace is important.

Former Congressman Lee Hamilton (D-IN), who served as vice-chair of the 9/11 Commission, said, "No foreign policy can succeed without the support of the American people... Peace is possible. There is no viable alternative." However, when this reporter asked why the letter didn't use the words "even-handed" or call on the president to be an "honest broker," Hamilton snapped back that he no longer knew what even-handed meant. "It has become a pejorative word," he maintained. "But if Palestinians want their state, we'll be on their side."

Joel Tauber, a chairman of Tel Aviv University and past chairman of the United Jewish Appeal, said it was important for Americans of all backgrounds to form a coalition to ask the president to remain focused and actively seek a solution. "We've heard the voices of extremists or naysayers," he said. …

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