When Iran's Ahmadinejad came to New York, everyone acted like we were being visited by Hitler. Maybe he is that bad, I don't know. But it doesn't feel that way to me. I'm a Jew. I support Israel. And still, he doesn't feel that bad to me. "More research is needed on the Holocaust"? Give me a break; how absurd. The research is done. But "Even given that it happened, it happened in Europe -- why should the Palestinians have to pay for that?" Sorry, but that's a legitimate question. Philosopher Martin Buber argued it passionately with Israel's founder, Theodore Herzel.
I love America, but I don't pretend we're perfect all the time or that we have no moral blemishes on our historical record. Whether in support of a loved one, or support of a country, part of love is telling the truth. I don't pretend America has a proud history vis a vis our treatment of Native Americans, and I don't pretend Israel has a proud history vis a vis its treatment of the Palestinians. Life is complicated, and relationships are hard. And while I'm not naïve about Ahmadinejad's views on Israel, I still don't think that the right thing to do -- for the United States, or even for Israel for that matter -- is to treat him like a pariah and refuse to engage.
When he said he wanted to go to Ground Zero and pay his respects, I think we should have let him. He didn't perpetrate the horrors of 9/11, any more than Saddam Hussein did! What's going on here?
When he said he wanted to debate international issues with George Bush, I think he should have been able to. What? Bush gets to hide in the White House, and Congress gets to start the process of giving him permission for military strikes against Iran, but young Americans might have to take military action because our government doesn't want to talk to him? What's going on here?
We're outraged because he's working against us in Iraq? Wait, let me get this straight... Someone could invade Canada, and we wouldn't get involved? What's going on here?
Ahmadinejad's visit turned into a p.r. campaign for the "Let's all go to war!" crowd, as a seemingly invisible force is trying to sell the American people another bogus, immoral, ridiculous military misadventure. If we think Ahmadinejad is enough of a monster, then we'll roll over and act like submissive little children again, letting Bush go to war again because... I can't remember....why, exactly?
The only thing worse than a terrible nightmare, is when the nightmare is happening but you're not asleep. This is a nightmare. And it is happening.