Decades ago, a distinguished cinema and television critic observed that Jon Voight, "who became famous for playing a dumb Texas stud ... is actually a university-educated, self-conscious New York intellectual". A staunch Republican, Voight is also a long-standing supporter of Israel, and like the most steadfast champions of the Jewish people he is a genuine philosemite who stands with Israel not merely out of regret for Jewish victimhood but out of admiration for what Jews have given to the world.
In Israel to celebrate the 60th anniversary of its foundation, he glowingly described the Jewish State as a "moral beacon", and the following year, having seen Hamas rockets landing in Sderot, he castigated Jane Fonda and others who had signed a petition denouncing Operation Cast Lead: "Did Israel not give the Palestinians of Gaza hope that there could be peace? In response, did Hamas not launch rockets from Gaza into Israel, killing many innocent people?".
A week ago his "Open Letter" to President Obama appeared in the Washington Times (22 June 2010), and reflects the fear, fury, and frustration that many Israel-supporters within and outside the United States feel as they contemplate a White House administration that seems to lack empathy with Israel's legitimate interests and well-founded concerns, that seems determined to pursue a naive and futile engagement with the Islamic world at Israel's expense and which in the pursuit of appeasement seems meekly to have accepted the prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran :
Surely it is not hyperbolic to suggest an echo here of "J'accuse!", Emile Zola's famous letter in L'Aurore in 1898 to France's President Faure during the Dreyfus Affair? Many learned pundits around the globe have repeatedly warned in all kinds of media about the danger that the tone and thrust of Obama's foreign policy poses for Israel. There are suspicions that Obama is currently softening his line on Israel in order not to alienate the "Israel Lobby" ahead of November's congressional election, and that once the election is out of the way his line will harden perilously. Who knows? Perhaps, given today's cult of celebrity, a letter from an ageing movie star - who is, after all, Angelina Jolie's father - will be the catalyst that crystallises public opinion in Israel's favour and sees the expected betrayal of Israel averted. If so, a latter-day Zola will be the Midnight Cowboy's finest role!You will be the first American president that lied to the Jewish people, and the American people as well, when you said that you would defend Israel, the only democratic state in the Middle East, against all their enemies. You have done just the opposite. You have propagandized Israel, until they look like they are everyone's enemy - and it has resonated throughout the world. You are putting Israel in harm's way, and you have promoted anti-Semitism throughout the world. You have brought this to a people who have given the world the Ten Commandments and most laws we live by today. The Jewish people have given the world our greatest scientists and philosophers, and the cures for many diseases, and now you play a very dangerous game so you can look like a true martyr to what you see and say are the underdogs. But the underdogs you defend are murderers and criminals who want Israel eradicated.... I pray to God you stop... With heartfelt and deep concern for America and Israel.