web analytics
April 25, 2015 / 6 Iyar, 5775
At a Glance
News & Views
Sponsored Post


Did Obama’s Charm Offensive During Trip To Israel Work?

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Barack Obama

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Barack Obama

JERUSALEM – President Obama had three goals for his first presidential trip to Israel.

He wanted to persuade Israelis that the United States is committed to preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. He wanted to promote the renewal of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, albeit without any specific “deliverables.” Most of all, however, he wanted to charm the pants off the Israeli people.

He dropped Hebrew phrases into his speeches. He quoted the Talmud. He invoked the story of Passover.

So, did it work?

“Does anyone doubt, still, that we’re talking about a friend here?” Itzik Shmueli, a Knesset member from the center-left Labor Party, wrote on Facebook.

Obama earned qualified praise even from Naftali Bennett, the pro-settler chairman of the nationalist Jewish Home Party who now serves as minister of economics and trade.

“Obama’s words certainly came out of concern for Israel and true friendship,” Bennett wrote, also on Facebook. Citing rockets fired from Gaza into southern Israel on Thursday, however, Bennett added, “A Palestinian state isn’t the right way. The time has come for new and creative outlooks.”

A smiling Obama appeared side by side with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres to talk about their two nations’ shared values and security needs. He visited the Israel Museum, viewed the Dead Sea Scrolls, surveyed the Iron Dome missile defense system and saw a host of Israeli high-tech innovations. For Friday, his itinerary included visits to the graves of Theodor Herzl, the father of modern Zionism, and slain Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.

For the most part, the visit was a cornucopia of compliments and commitments to Israel’s security and the U.S.-Israel relationship.

“Those who adhere to the ideology of rejecting Israel’s right to exist, they might as well reject the earth beneath them and the sky above because Israel’s not going anywhere,” Obama said during his speech Thursday night at the Jerusalem International Convention Center. “And today I want to tell you, particularly the young people, so that there’s no mistake here: so long as there is a United States of America, ‘Atem lo l’vad.’ – You are not alone.”

Before the trip, Israelis were extremely wary about the U.S. president. He had visited Israel twice before, most recently in 2008, but Israelis were irked that he skipped Israel on a Middle East swing in 2009 that included his famous Cairo speech. They were put off by his public calls for a freeze on settlement building early in his presidency. They compared him unfavorably to his two predecessors, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton.

In a 2009 poll, fewer than 10 percent of Israelis had a favorable view of Obama. And a poll conducted this month by the Israel Democracy Institute showed that 54 percent of the 600 Jewish Israelis surveyed said they did not trust Obama to consider and safeguard Israel’s interests.

After his speech on Thursday, however, some listeners said they had warmed to him.

“He was very clear, and he conveyed a feeling of security, especially about Iran,” said Hagar Shilo, 23, a political science student at Tel Aviv University. “He made a lot of pro-Israel statements that we hadn’t heard yet – very much like Clinton.”

Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, who heads the government’s Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, wrote on Facebook: “Obama’s speech was important and inspirational. Our job is to apply our Zionist vision, which was reflected eloquently in his words for Israel’s youth.”

To be sure, Obama also challenged Israel on the trip. He visited the West Bank city of Ramallah and issued a statement with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas condemning settlement construction. And in his speech to Israeli students on Thursday night, he made an extended appeal asking Israelis to take risks for peace and the two-state solution, calling peace “necessary,” “just” and “possible.”

“I speak to you as a friend who is deeply concerned and committed to your future,” Obama said. “You have the opportunity to be the generation that permanently secures the Zionist dream, or you can face a growing challenge to its future. Given the demographics west of the Jordan River, the only way for Israel to endure and thrive as a Jewish and democratic state is through the realization of an independent and viable Palestine.”

Mostly, though, Obama sought to use this trip to reassure Israelis, including on Iran.

“We agree that a nuclear-armed Iran would be a threat to the region, a threat to the world and potentially an existential threat to Israel,” Obama said at a news conference with Netanyahu. “We do not have a policy of containment when it comes to a nuclear Iran. Our policy is to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.”

Even many of those who disagreed with Obama’s policies on Israel said they were encouraged by his decision to visit Israel.
Tel Aviv University student Yanai Cohen, who attended the Thursday night speech, said he doesn’t agree with the two-state solution and felt that Obama had disparaged Israel’s government.

But, he said, what mattered most now was Obama’s decision to visit Israel.

“Coming here is a sign,” Cohen said. “It shows commitment.”

(JTA)

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.

One Response to “Did Obama’s Charm Offensive During Trip To Israel Work?”

  1. Steve Klein says:

    “Obama’s words certainly came out of concern for Israel and true friendship,” Naftali Bennett wrote on Facebook.

    This is a disappointing turn of events. I thought Bennett a more cautious man. Obama's charm should not deceive anyone, least of all Israeli Jews.

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Car - A-Tor
Updated: Three Injured in Jerusalem Terror Attack, Ambulances and Mayor’s Car also Attacked
Latest News Stories
Naftali Bennett and Prime Minister Netanyahu.

Bayit Yehudi settles for three Cabinet posts. Shas to head Religious Affairs with Bayit Yehudi as Deputy.

Traffic to Maaleh Adumim

The road from Jerusalem to Ma’aleh Adumim is closed to traffic due to Arab stone-throwing.

Remains of the back window of the car driven in Mea Shearim by an officer of a Hareidi IDF unit.

The officer of a Hareidi IDF unit was in Mea Shearim to visit two of his soldiers whose families have social or financial problems.

A soldier was stabbed, and a second soldier was nearly stabbed in separate attacks on Shabbat.

Three police have been injured in Jerusalem after a car ran into them. The three were walking on the sidewalk when the car slammed into them. The vehicular attack happened on the “Cohen’s Path” near Beit Orot on the Mount of Olives. One is moderately injured with pelvic injuries, and the other two are lightly […]

The airstrip, 10 miles from the Syrian border, could be used for UAV missions against Syrian rebels. Israel also is in range.

Vying for dominance in the WZO election, are movements within our nation which seek to undermine and subvert Orthodox Judaism.

Shira Klein was seriously injured in the April 15th Jerusalem terror attack that killed Shalom Yochai Sherki.

Arab media said several bases with long-range missiles were attacked on Saturday and last Wednesday.

Israel is the 11th happiest nation among 156 countries in the annual World Happiness Report for a second year. USA ranks 15.

New York’s MTA plans to vote on a change to its rules it hopes would allow it to exclude the “Killing Jews” anti-jihad ad campaign.

Biden gleefully announced two of his three Catholic children married Jews – not thrilling his Jewish audience.

In Jerusalem, the bells from 18 churches in the Old City of Jerusalem rang 100 times on Thursday evening, April 23, to remember the Armenian Genocide.

The IDF has come up with an 81-second video showing 67 years of Israeli land, sea and ground soldiers in action.

Tennessee becomes the first state to formally condemn the BDS movement.

More Articles from Ben Sales
Israeli winery

“You want to know what this wine looked like, which wine King David drank, white or red…. We can see if it’s red or white, strong or weak.”

IDF soldiers rush injured Israelis to Soroka Hospital in Beersheva after a mortar fired from Gaza exploded at an army staging area near Kibbutz Nirim, close to the Gaza border. The attack occurred shortly before a cease-fire went into effect on Tuesday. Three Israelis visiting the area were hit; two of them died of their wounds.

After a month, should the quiet hold, Israel and Hamas will restart indirect negotiations in Cairo on easing Israel’s blockade of the coastal strip and disarming the enclave.

Shlomy Zachary, an Israeli human rights lawyer, noted that Israeli cooperation with previous UN investigations has helped mitigate criticism of Israel – for example, in a 2010 UN investigation of the so-called flotilla incident.

Smart bombs: Israeli war technology isn’t limited to the home front.

“The values I learned from my parents are probably the same values I hope Christians and Muslims and Hindus and Buddhists teach to their people.”

On Monday, Lapid told JTA that he would sooner agree to freeze settlement growth than free Palestinian prisoners, as Netanyahu has done previously in an effort to advance the process.

“He was like everyone else,” she said. “He was serious. He wouldn’t mess around. He would do what I said. He was quiet a lot and thought a lot. He did everything well.”

More than having a hand on the wheel, the year since the formation of the new government has seen Jewish Home and the coalition’s other smaller parties driving much of the government’s agenda. Netanyahu’s Likud party has taken a back seat on everything besides security affairs.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/israel/did-obamas-charm-offensive-during-trip-to-israel-work/2013/03/25/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: