web analytics
July 22, 2014 / 24 Tammuz, 5774
Israel at War: Operation Protective Edge
 
 
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
IDC Advocacy Room IDC Fights War on Another Front

Student Union opens ‘hasbara’ room in effort to fill public diplomacy vacuum.



The President’s Jerusalem Speech

President Obama’s speech in Jerusalem was remarkable in many ways. Not only did he proclaim U.S. support for Israel and describe Jewish history in glowing – and for an American president, unprecedented – terms, he also seemed to take great pains to address, point by point, the criticism of his 2009 Cairo speech that soured many Jews on his presidency.

He acknowledged that he could not, when trying to impose his own vision on the region, overcome bipartisan congressional support for Israel. Nor, he indicated, could he ignore Israeli public opinion when it came to U.S. policy in the Middle East. He suggested that young Israeli voters endeavor to change things – a posture that suggests little or no interest on his part in trying to move things along any time soon.

And, significantly, he did not reprise his insistence that Israel freeze settlement construction prior to a resumption of negotiations – something he did earlier with disastrous results – though he carefully reiterated U.S. opposition to settlement construction prior to an agreement on borders. He also said the U.S. would continue to oppose any Palestinian end-runs in the United Nations.

In sum, he largely embraced the Israel narrative and so it is small wonder that Palestinian leaders have expressed their shock and dismay. A few excerpts from the president’s address will give the flavor of what may turn out to be a groundbreaking moment in U.S. Mideast policy.

The president was widely criticized for failing to note in his Cairo speech – which at the time was widely perceived as the beginning of an effort to reset U.S. relations with the Muslim world – Israel’s ties to the Holy Land, thus giving encouragement to those who view Israelis as usurpers. In his Jerusalem speech Mr. Obama said,

Over the last two days, I have reaffirmed the bonds between our countries with Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Peres. I have borne witness to the ancient history of the Jewish people at the Shrine of the Book, and I have seen Israel’s shining future in your scientists and entrepreneurs. This is a nation of museums and patents, timeless holy sites and groundbreaking innovation. Only in Israel could you see the Dead Sea Scrolls and the place where the technology on board the Mars Rover originated…. [Jewish history] is a story of centuries of slavery, and years of wandering in the desert; a story of perseverance amidst persecution, and faith in God and the Torah. It is a story about finding freedom in your own land….

Through it all, the Jewish people sustained their Jewish identity, as well as a longing to return home. And while Jews achieved extraordinary success in many parts of the world, the dream of true freedom finally found its full expression in the Zionist idea – to be a free people in your homeland.

That is why I believe that Israel is rooted not just in history and tradition, but also in a simple and profound idea: the idea that people deserve to be free in a land of their own. And over the last 65 years, when Israel has been at its best, Israelis have demonstrated that responsibility does not end when you reach the promised land, it only begins.

And so Israel has been a refuge for the diaspora – welcoming Jews from Europe to the former Soviet Union; from Ethiopia to North Africa.

As if to remove any doubt about his point, he went on to say, “Tomorrow, I will pay tribute to that history – at the grave of Herzl, a man who had the foresight to see that the future of the Jewish people had to be reconnected to their past….

The president reiterated his opposition to settlement activity prior to an agreement on borders (it is, he said, “counterproductive to the cause of peace”) but he also acknowledged the pushback he faced from Congress after he laid down the law about a settlement building freeze in 2009: “Politically, given the strong bipartisan support for Israel in America, the easiest thing for me to do would be to put this issue aside, and express unconditional support for whatever Israel decides to do…”

Mr. Obama exhibited signs of vagueness and drift while taking aim at the Palestinians’ message of the urgency in setting an immediate settlement freeze: “I’ve suggested principles on territory and security that I believe can be the basis for talks. But for the moment, put aside the plans and process; I ask you, instead to think about what can trust between people.”

He was more direct in dismissing PA President Mahmoud Abbas’s refusal to accept Israel as a Jewish state and his complaint that ensuring Israel’s security is not central to the resolution of the conflict: “…Palestinians must recognize that Israel will be a Jewish state” and that “[s]ecurity must be at the center of any agreement.”

In a moment of striking candor he told his audience: “Speaking as a politician, I can promise you this: political leaders will not take risks if the people do not demand that they do. You must create the change that you want to see.” In effect, he was saying, I couldn’t overcome your prime minister’s failure to compromise along the lines I wanted so now I am turning to you to see what you can do to change Israeli public opinion.

President Obama has now handed off follow-up work to Secretary of State Kerry. Time will tell whether the president’s more restrained approach will be reflected in the Kerry mission or whether he will revert to the full court press mode of the early Obama years.

It will all have been successful if the Palestinians take from the speech the message that they can’t count on the U.S. to intervene in the process on their behalf, but that the parties themselves will have to negotiate face to face to resolve their differences.

Frankly, in our view, it was Mr. Obama’s past rhetoric that led to the Palestinians’ unrealistic expectations and was the real impediment to moving forward.

About the Author:


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “The President’s Jerusalem Speech”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Newly completed control tower at Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv. June 2, 2014
US and European Flights to Israel Cancelled Due to Rockets
Latest Indepth Stories
Haredi soldiers of the Neztah Yehuda Battalion fight for Israel while maintaining Torah study in the army,

We mourn the dead, wish a speedy recovery to the wounded, and pray that God guides the government.

The Israel Test

Charges from the court of world public opinion and their refutations.


It is up to our government to ensure that their sacrifices were not made for short-term gains.

.

Supporting Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East, has become dangerous in Malmo.

Proportionality Doctrine:The greater the military gain the greater the justifiable collateral damage

Regional pro-US Arab countries rely on Israel as a deterrence to rogue Islamic regimes.

He has always supported the underdog, once even quite literally, legislating a law that prohibits the abandonment of pets.

Temech is about providing a community – a place where religious women can learn, collaborate and refresh themselves with like-minded people.

Netanyahu has decided that the lives of Israeli are more important than looking good for Obama, U.N. and the NY Times.

Many Jews join the Israel-haters with their progressive ideology and politically correct obsessions.

“The will to triumph is a prerequisite for victory.” Abba Kovner

How can you run away from Israel and all the things that have shaped your life?

It’s as if Hamas has pulled a page out of Pharaoh’s handbook.

“Am HaNetzach Eino Mefached Mi Derech Aruka” (An eternal people doesn’t fear the long journey).

Isn’t it comforting to know that our God loves life, grants life, and promises eternal life?

More Articles from Editorial Board

So Hamas needed a way to end the blockade and secure the release of its prisoners.

Many of us thought Mr. Obama’s diplomacy strategy was simply a device to dodge a decision that force was necessary to ensure the rogue state of Iran would not get its hands on nuclear weapons and thereby pose an existential threat to world peace.

In fact, the two suspects were arrested by Israeli authorities – not, as the Times tried artfully to suggest, by Mr. Abbas’s Palestinian Authority.

Unfortunately, we must deal with some of the practical lessons of this tragedy. The murders did not happen in a vacuum.

It is no secret the president is furious with Republicans in Congress for blocking his efforts to change immigration laws.

The Rebbe was an acknowledged Torah scholar, seminal Torah personality, and one of the most influential Jewish leaders of the 20th century.

Does anyone think the president has a formula to deal with Russian and Chinese land grabs?

There is no disputing that Mr. Klinghoffer was selected for execution because he was Jewish.

    Latest Poll

    Israel's Iron Dome Anti-Missile System:





    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/editorial/the-presidents-jerusalem-speech/2013/03/25/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: