Bibi Netanyahu has darkened our hopes for peace. In anticipation of May 29, 1998, the second anniversary of his election, we shut off the lights on the Internet by turning the background of this page black for a few days. Let us return to hope.

An Open Letter To Benjamin Netanyahu

September 15, 1997

Hon. Benjamin Netanyahu
Prime Minister
State of Israel

Today was a joyful and tearful day - one of excitement, anticipation and foreboding. Today we went to Newark, New Jersey and left our beautiful 18 year old daughter with a group of college freshmen bound for Israel for a year of study at the Hebrew University and on a kibbutz.

We are very proud. In this day and age with all the competing enticements, this was her choice. After five weeks in Israel last summer, wild horses couldn't have held her back.

For years we looked forward to this day. People would ask us if we were scared. Weren't we nervous with all that is happening? Of course we were. But even a couple of years ago, when she planned her first visit we answered confidently. The government of Israel wanted peace. We sensed a longing for peace. We believed then people of good faith on all sides were working for peace. There would be setbacks but the logic of the situation dictated that things must improve. There really is no alternative to peace in the long run.

Even last year, when well meaning people asked about her safety, we responded, with a touch of false bravura, that you can't live in a shell. After all it could be dangerous just sending her around the corner for flowers. (And we kindly didn't tell our friends about the triple murder at the corner florist.) Still, we had faith.

But the events of the past year have shaken us if not our daughter. The day of the Ben Yehuda bombing, she called me at the office to tell me the news. I was concerned. "You'll be careful," I said.

"Don't worry," she replied (and I thought for the moment she would say something reassuring). "I'll be at Ben Yehuda Street every night," expressing the immortality every teenager feels some of the time. Fortunately, or not, perhaps, the sponsors of her program will restrict the activities of the participants, at least for the next few weeks. But that is not the answer.

You are not responsible for Arafat's behavior! His conduct and remarks in recent weeks have been irresponsible and incendiary. But you are responsible for your own conduct and the conduct of your government.

Since your election you have shaken our confidence in the direction of Israel. In the vision for peace. It is not any one policy or another, but the whole tenor of your administration.

Every expanded settlement or housing project, every bulldozed house, every stripped identity card or closed border, is an incitement to increased bloodshed and violence. Every such incident makes facts, creates additional hatreds., inspires future suicides. Without the prospect of a generous peace this state of mind cannot be healed. Under the most generous of circumstances there would be hostile and insane acts. Again, you are not responsible for Arafat but you are responsible for yourself!

Restore the faith I had that Israel wanted a fair and workable resolution to the difficult problems. We could fantasize a Middle East without conflict, without Arabs, without Palestinians. Ultimately we do have to stop smoking those drugs. Stop injecting those hallucinogens.

It will be nine months before our daughter returns. I know there are no guarantees. But, help me sleep at night. Not by promising security. There is no security tight enough to work and leave life worth living. No, the answer is to restore or recreate a meaningful peace process -- one which benefits all parties -- to reassert the vision which permeated Israel just a short time ago.

No one can do it for you. There will be no deus ex machina. Not Madeline Albright, not Henry Kissinger. Right now it is on your shoulders. Be bold. It takes more strength to find peace than to make war. Be strong.


Leonard and Sally Grossman

Oak Park, IL USA

Post Script: It has been a month. The students are still not free to visit the Old City or to return to Ben Yehuda Street. When will it be safe enough for the sponsors of the program to risk freedom. A dream deferred . . .

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