Emerging Details of Upcoming Obama Trip to Israel Draw Praise and Criticism

March 13, 2013 9:19 am 2 comments

Benjamin Netanyahu and Barack Obama. Photo: NJDC/YouTube

U.S. President Barack Obama lands in Israel a week from Wednesday and his impending visit has been brought into focus as the commentary, debate, criticism and rumor has begun to crystallize.

Speaking at the prestigious annual Herzliya Conference Wednesday, U.S. Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro told a panel on US-Israel ties, that there is significance in Obama making his trip to Israel, the first visit of his second term.

He also said that President Obama does not dislike Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and rumors to that effect are “incorrect.”

The ambassador said the release of convicted American-Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard, currently serving a life sentence, was unlikely. “I’m aware that this is a matter that many Israelis want to solve,” Shapiro said. “There are voices in the United States that aggressively oppose it, because of what he did. I do not know what will happen, but I do not expect any announcements about this during the visit.”

It was reported Tuesday that President Obama is planning a symbolic visit  to the Shrine of the Book, which houses the ancient Dead Sea Scrolls, written in Hebrew and other ancient tongues.

“This will show the historical reality of Israel being in the hands of the Jews for thousands of years,” U.S. Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) told The New York Post.

Obama’s visit isn’t meant to just satisfy observers. He will also spend time meeting with Israelis face to face. One of those Israelis will be the newly crowned Miss Israel, Yityish Aynaw, who has been invited to dine with Obama at President Shimon Peres’s residence, Army Radio reported.

The encounter will carry a special significance: During the Miss Israel pageant Aynaw mentioned American civil rights activist Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as one of her role models “He fought for justice and equality, and that’s one of the reasons I’m here: I want to show that my community has many beautiful qualities that aren’t always represented in the media,” she said.

Elements of President Obama’s visit have drawn criticism. On Wednesday MK Yoni Chetboun berated him on Israel Radio for choosing to address the Israeli public at Jerusalem’s International Convention Center rather than the Knesset and for inviting students from all universities except the Judea and Samaria-based Ariel University to attend it.

“He [Obama] chose not to speak before the Knesset, saying he wasn’t coming to Israel for political reasons, but at the same time decided he’s meeting with students from the universities, except for Ariel University, which is a political decision. It’s exclusionary,” Chetboun’s spokesman Ohad Cohen told The Times of Israel.

“Israel decided that Ariel is a full-fledged university. So does Obama not recognize Israel’s decisions?” Cohen asked rhetorically.

In a meeting with a group of Arab Americans earlier this week, according to reports, President Obama revealed that he will not push the Israelis and Palestinians toward restarting negotiations or outline a new peace initiative, but he will take with him a cash infusion of $500 million – which Congress will soon release – of much needed financial aid to the Palestinian Authority.

One participant at the meeting with Obama told Al Arabiya on condition of anonymity that Obama expressed skepticism on the issue of a long lasting peace being reached between Israel and the Palestinians in the near future, but that he was happy to be visiting the region and expressed remorse for not having done so sooner.

“He said the goal of his trip was to speak to the Israeli people directly,”  one of the participants of the meeting said. “He thinks it was a mistake that he didn’t address the Israeli public in his first term.”

2 Comments

  • obama should be “addressing” the iranian people directly (i.e. bypassing their problematic government), rather than the people of israel. “talking directly to the people” is a diplomatic way of saying that you can’t stand talking to their leaders, and that you’re hoping to persuade them to turn against their government.

  • richard sherman

    He cares as much about the Jewish people as Muhammad who decapitated 900 unarmed Jews at Quarayza.

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Commentary Featured Sports Remembering Myra Kraft on Super Bowl Sunday

    Remembering Myra Kraft on Super Bowl Sunday

    JNS.org – I am a Dallas Cowboys fan still recovering from our playoff defeat at the hands of the Green Bay Packers, or should I say, the instant replay booth. Still, football is like life—not always fair. And even the lead-up to Sunday’s Super Bowl has lacked fairness, as the media is obsessed with deflated footballs. Fans of the sport are not enjoying the sidebar stories that always accompany the lead-up to the big game. When the Patriots and the [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Middle East Hamas Commander Reportedly Urges Hezbollah to Join Forces Against Israel

    Hamas Commander Reportedly Urges Hezbollah to Join Forces Against Israel

    JNS.org – Five months after Israeli forces tried to assassinate Hamas military commander Mohammed Deif in Gaza, Deif appears to have signed a letter that the terrorist group claims he wrote in hiding. The letter, addressed to Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah, expressed Deif’s condolences for the death of Hezbollah terrorists during Sunday’s reported Israeli airstrike in Syria. Deif is said to have survived multiple assassination attempts, but he has not been seen in public for years. According to the Hezbollah-linked Al-Manar [...]

    Read more →
  • Jewish Identity Theater Shlomo Carlebach Musical Has the Soul to Heal Frayed Race Relations

    Shlomo Carlebach Musical Has the Soul to Heal Frayed Race Relations

    JNS.org – The cracks that had been simply painted over for so long began to show in Ferguson, Mo., in November 2014, but in truth they had begun to open wide much earlier—on Saturday, July 13, 2013. That is when a jury in Sanford, Fla., acquitted George Zimmerman of culpability for the death of a 17-year-old black man, Trayvon Martin. The cracks receded from view over time, as other news obscured them. Then came the evening of Aug. 9, 2014, [...]

    Read more →
  • Theater US & Canada ‘Homeland’ Season Finale Stirs Controversy After Comparing Menachem Begin to Taliban Leader

    ‘Homeland’ Season Finale Stirs Controversy After Comparing Menachem Begin to Taliban Leader

    A controversial scene in the season finale of Homeland sparked outrage by comparing former Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin to a fictional Taliban leader, the UK’s Daily Mail reported. In the season 4 finale episode, which aired on Dec. 21, CIA black ops director Dar Adal, played by F. Murray Abraham, justifies a deal he made with a Taliban leader by referencing Begin. He makes the remarks in a conversation with former CIA director Saul Berenson, a Jewish character played by Mandy [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Spirituality/Tradition Placing Matisyahu Back Within a Life of Observance

    Placing Matisyahu Back Within a Life of Observance

    Shining Light on Fiction During the North Korea-Sony saga, we learned two important lessons. The first is that there are two sides to this story, and neither of them are correct because ultimately we should have neither inappropriate movies nor dictators. The second is that we cannot remain entirely fixed on the religious world, but we also must see beyond the external, secular view of reality. It’s important to ground our Torah-based thoughts into real-life activism. To view our act [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Blogs Nine Decades of Moses at the Movies

    Nine Decades of Moses at the Movies

    JNS.org – Hollywood has had its share of big-budget biblical flops, but until now, the Exodus narrative has not been among them. Studios have brought Moses to the big screen sparingly, but in ways that defined the image and character of Moses for each generation of audiences. The first biblical epic In 1923, director Cecil B. DeMille left it to the American public to decide the subject of his next movie for Paramount. DeMille received a letter from a mechanic [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Blogs Exodus on Screen (REVIEW)

    Exodus on Screen (REVIEW)

    JNS.org – The story of the Exodus from Egypt is a tale as old as time itself, to borrow a turn of phrase. It’s retold every Passover, both at the seder table and whenever “The Ten Commandments” is aired on television. But the latest adaptation—Ridley Scott’s epic film, “Exodus: Gods and Kings”—fails to meet expectations. Scott’s “Exodus” alters the source material to service the story and ground the tale, but the attempt to reinvent the biblical narrative becomes laughable. Moses [...]

    Read more →
  • Jewish Identity Lifestyle ‘Jewish Food Movement’ Comes of Age

    ‘Jewish Food Movement’ Comes of Age

    JNS.org - In December 2007, leaders of the Hazon nonprofit drafted seven-year goals for what they coined as the “Jewish Food Movement,” which has since been characterized by the increased prioritization of healthy eating, sustainable agriculture, and food-related activism in the Jewish community. What do the next seven years hold in store? “One thing I would like to see happen in the next seven years is [regarding] the issue of sugar, soda, and obesity, [seeing] what would it be like to rally the [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.