This does not happen often. We tend to avoid dialogue with political figures whenever possible. When we do get into an exchange of views with them - and it seems not to matter that much which country they're from and which part of the political spectrum they represent - we're often left despondent. Today was one of those times.
The subject was the upcoming fourth chapter in the staged release of convicted murderers from their Israeli prison cells. (Readers in need of background can find it in this recent summary of the sad story so far.) We had written to the politician some weeks ago after being advised by well-meaning friends that he is a sensitive soul with principles and spine, more or less, and worth engaging.
He responded today to a letter we sent him in December. (His assistant wrote an hour earlier that our letter had somehow not arrived or got lost and therefore was not answered till we re-mailed it to him yesterday.) In it, we tried to explain the deep and enduring harm (as we see it) caused by the US/Kerry pressure on Israel to set unrepentant killers of innocent civilians free. We highlighted the irreversible damage to core Israeli notions of constitutional law and justice that result from the executive branch (i.e. Israeli politicians) riding rough-shod over the decisions of Israel's legal system and in particular Israel's judiciary. Trust us when we say that our letter to the politician - written out of a sense of pain and puzzlement - made some cogent and serious points.
In reply, the politician wrote that he is aware of the danger in releasing convicts, aware of how it amounts to a "breakdown in values" and - always a good thing for a politician to know - "aware of the fact that the public is against it."
Against it is putting the matter mildly: the one and only poll to have measured the Israeli public's views on the Kerry plan for Israel to release convicted murdering terrorists so that Mahmoud Abbas would agree to take a seat at the negotiating table found that support for freeing the convicts ran at 9.4%. That's nine point four percent. The evidence is here.
"That last point, however, is the one which is cause for reflection. Why would politicians be doing something which is so unpopular unless they had the information and insight to recognize that it needs to be done for the welfare of the country despite all the reasons not to do it. Please continue to be in touch."We plan to pass up the invitation. [And we will keep his name private to save him from premature embarrassment.]
The one good thing to come out of this? Further validation that keeping away from politicians is its own reward.