Dear Mr. President,

I am writing to you because I am afraid.

I have been closely following the rhetoric of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad over the past few months, and I want you to know that I am gripped with a sense of fear.

I fear for the future of Israel and for that of the entire Jewish people, as the would-be Hitler of Persia readies to do battle against us with the most horrific of weapons.

I fear for the future of the West, because outside of Washington, few and far between are the leaders with the common sense and courage to stand up to the Tyrant of Teheran.

And I fear for the future of the world, because if Iran's fundamentalists get their hands on a nuclear weapon, it will only be a matter of time before their extremist allies abroad become similarly armed.

Hence, I am writing to you because I am convinced that you alone understand and appreciate the gravity of the current situation, and I pray in my heart that you will not let it stand.

I appeal to you now, not as a political analyst nor as a newspaper columnist, but as one man of faith to another: please strike Iran hard with military force, and dismantle their nuclear weapons program, before it is too late.

I know you believe, as I do, that G-d guides the destiny of men and of nations. And I know you believe, just as I do, that He raised you up to the helms of power precisely at this critical period, to serve as His agent and His instrument in this world.

The G-d of history has chosen you, Mr. President, just as He did Churchill, and He has entrusted you with a sacred mandate: to save the world from the designs of a madman.

I can tell you that in Israel, a sense of dread has slowly, but surely, begun to sink in. As the Sunday Times of London reported earlier this week, a growing number of my fellow Jews have begun to build underground nuclear shelters adjacent to their homes.

"The shelters," says the Times, "are built to withstand radioactive fallout, have fortified walls and doors and generate their own electricity and decontaminated air." Hundreds of such bunkers, reports the paper, have been built in recent months, and "demand is soaring".

Mr. President, just the other night, I went out with my family for dinner to a restaurant in Herzliya, the city named after Zionist visionary Theodor Herzl, who foresaw the need to establish a safe haven for the Jewish people. Our waitress was an attractive and cheerful young lady who moved to Israel 16 years ago, at the age of four, from her native Lithuania, where her family had suffered anti-Semitism and persecution.

But when we asked her if she was happy living here in the Jewish state, the smile on her lips quickly faded. Glumly, she answered us with the following words: "That Ahmadinejad of Iran, he scares me. It is a very scary situation."

And indeed it is, Mr. President, because my people are in danger once again. It was just six decades ago that the Europeans tossed us into Hitler's ovens and turned six million Jews into ashes. Now, with no shame, they stand by silently as Iran seeks to do the same.

The United Nations is a lost cause, and we have no faith in Russia, China or international institutions. The sad fact is that most of the world will not shed a tear if Mr. Ahmadinejad succeeds in achieving his dreadful aims.

Here in Israel, our own leadership is tired and weak. They have lost their way and they are no longer anchored in faith. As we saw this past summer in the Lebanon war, they stumble about as though walking in darkness, oblivious to the danger that stalks us all.

There is only one person now, Mr. President, who can stop this terrifying scenario from coming to pass, and I believe that person is you.

I think of you often, and when I do, I am guided in faith to the fourth chapter of the Book of Esther in the Bible, where the evil Persian court officer Haman threatened the Jewish people with extinction. After Mordechai the Jew got wind of Haman's plot, he passed along a message of great urgency to Queen Esther: "Who knows, perhaps it was precisely for a moment such as this that you have attained power?"

Mr. President, that message was as compelling then as it is today, and I believe it is clearly directed to you, too.

The decision you face is not an easy one, and I do not mean to suggest otherwise. But there are moments when a leader, like Joshua of old, must "be strong and of good courage" (Joshua chap. 1), and not shy away from doing what must be done.

In the case of Iran, there can be no room for retreat or for shrinking back from the task at hand. The stakes are simply too great.

Iran can and must be stopped, and the only way to do so is through the use of military force. Diplomacy and resolutions are a smokescreen, and you know as well as I do that they will not slow Iran's steady drive toward obtaining a nuclear arsenal. Only the long and powerful arm of the United States, flexed with all its might, can and will be able to do the job.

Sure, the critics and the nay-sayers will try to tear you down, just as they have been doing since you the day you were elected. They will heap scorn on you, call you a warmonger and worse, and denigrate you and your family for many, many years to come.

But please don't allow them to deter you or to drive you to despair. Don't let them drown out that still, small voice within, the one that reaches into each of our hearts and calls out every day: "I am the L-rd, and there is none else." (Isaiah chap. 45)

Mr. President, you know as well as I do that history's final verdict is not written by academics, nor is it determined by the opinion-mongers at the New York Times.

The one and only verdict, the one that really, truly counts, is the one that is penned in Heaven, by He Who gave each of us life. It is to Him, and Him alone, that we will all have to answer.

In just over two years, you will leave office. In the greater scheme of things, I am convinced that your legacy will depend largely on the decisions that you make in the coming few months about what to do with Iran.

I urge you, I plead with you: don't walk out of the White House in January 2009 without having stopped Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Don?t leave the fate of Israel and the Jewish people hanging in the balance.

Remember the promise that G-d made to Abraham in Genesis chap. 12: "I will bless those that bless you, and those that curse you I shall curse."

Note that when it comes to standing by Israel and the Jewish people, there is no middle ground. G-d delineates two categories, and two categories only: those who bless Israel and those who curse it.

You are in a unique position to bless Israel, and through it, all of humanity, by removing the nuclear sword from the hand of the Persian executioner. The same G-d who spoke, and said, "Let there be light," and there was light, surely expects you to do nothing less.

I will be praying for you, as will many others, and I hope that you take this message to heart.

Be strong, be strong, Mr. President, and through you, may we all be strengthened.

This article originally appeared in the Jerusalem Post on November 1, 2006.