Thursday, June 2, 2011

To Whom it May Concern

Perhaps you have seen the following email.  It plays on the fact that Obama recently said that Israel should consider going back to pre-1967 borders as part of a peace settlement with Palestine. It is supposed to be a funny joke.

Dear President Obama:

I am writing today with a somewhat unusual request.

First and foremost, I am asking that you return America to its August 20th, 1959 borders so that Hawaii is no longer a state and you are no longer a citizen


Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
Someone sent a friend of mine that email. She forwarded it to me and asked me to work up a response for her (my first freelance work!).  This is what I came up with:

Dear Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu,

Thank you for your recent and, as you say, "unusual" request.  As you know the United States currently gives your country several billion dollars of aid every year. That is money that we could use on things like schools, bridges, health care and/or tax breaks. I looked through our books a little and couldn't find anywhere that you had given the great state of Hawaii any aid at all. Therefore the first "unusual" aspect of your letter is its tone, which seems to indicate that you have as much at stake in our borders as we have in yours.

But, for the sake of argument, let’s assume that the United States has been in constant conflict with Japan, say, over Hawaii (I would be remiss if I failed to point out to you, as a fellow writer, that your joke fails in this regard. For the satire/comedy to work, there needs to be more of a parallel between Hawaii’s situation and Israel’s.  Failing any parallels the joke comes off as being written by someone who’s trying too hard to be cute).  Back to our silly argument:  We’ll assume that this U.S/ Japan conflict has already lasted 50 years, and showed no signs of letting up without both parties making real concessions.  To justly compare it to your conflict, we’ll put the cost of our pretend conflict at trillions of dollars and millions of lives. Okay? Here’s the thing:  Yes, I would consider returning Hawaii to Japan, while negotiating for a valuable exchange mind you, in order to bring that gruesome, God-forsaken conflict to an end.  What follower of God wouldn’t give up much more for the promise of peace?  I know we disagree on who Jesus was but personally I never forget his Sermon on the Mount. To wit:  Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God.



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