Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.

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. Comments written in all caps will be deleted.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Features World Graves of Jewish Pirates in Jamaica Give Caribbean Tourists Taste of Little-Known History

    Graves of Jewish Pirates in Jamaica Give Caribbean Tourists Taste of Little-Known History

    Tour operators are calling attention to Jamaica’s little-known Jewish heritage by arranging visits to historic Jewish sites on the Caribbean island, including a cemetery where Jewish pirates are buried. A report in Travel and Leisure magazine describes the Hunts Bay Cemetery in Kingston, where there are seven tombstones engraved with Hebrew benedictions and skull and crossbones insignia. According to the report, centuries ago, Jewish pirates sailed the waters of Jamaica and settled in Port Royal. The town, once known as “the wickedest city in the […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Blogs Filmmaker Eyal Resh Embraces the Challenge of Telling Israel’s Story (VIDEO)

    Filmmaker Eyal Resh Embraces the Challenge of Telling Israel’s Story (VIDEO)

    JNS.org – Telling Israel’s story. It’s the specific title of a short film that Eyal Resh created last year. It’s also the theme behind the 27-year-old Israeli filmmaker’s broader body of work. The widely viewed “Telling Israel’s Story” film—directed by Resh for a gala event hosted by the Times of Israel online news outlet—seemingly begins as a promotional tourism video, but quickly evolves to offer a multilayered perspective. “I want to tell you a story about a special place for me,” a young woman whispers […]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Features Israel Geeks Out: Science, Art and Tech Event Embodies Jewish State’s ‘DNA’

    Israel Geeks Out: Science, Art and Tech Event Embodies Jewish State’s ‘DNA’

    JNS.org – The entrance to Jerusalem’s Sacher Park was transformed from April 25-27 by a fire-breathing robotic dragon, which flailed its arms and attempted to take flight. The robot, a signature feature at Jerusalem’s first-ever “Geek Picnic,” was one of more than 150 scientific amusements available for the public to experience. This particular dragon was designed by students from Moscow’s Art Industrial Institute in conjunction with the Flacon design factory, said Anatasia Shaminer, a student who helped facilitate the display. Children […]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Opinion The Syrian Virgin (REVIEW)

    The Syrian Virgin (REVIEW)

    The Syrian Virgin, by Zack Love. CreateSpace, 2015. The Syrian Virgin, by Zack Love, is a very interesting novel. Equally a political and romantic thriller, at times a real page-turner, it gets you intimately involved in the dire situation in today’s Syria, as well as in the romantic entanglements of its mostly New York-based characters — whose entanglements just might determine the fate of that dire situation in Syria. Along the way it introduces a really important idea that somehow […]

    Read more →
  • Features Unpacking the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict and Its Ripple Effect on Israel’s Region

    Unpacking the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict and Its Ripple Effect on Israel’s Region

    JNS.org – Aside from Israel itself, those with a vested interest in the Jewish state are accustomed to tracking developments related to Middle East players such as Iran, Syria, Jordan and Egypt. But much global attention has recently focused on the Caucasus region at the Europe-Asia border, specifically on the suddenly intensified violence between Azerbaijan and Armenia in the mountainous Nagorno-Karabakh area of western Azerbaijan. The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, while not taking place in Israel’s immediate neighborhood, does have what one scholar called […]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Features Earth Day 2016: Israel Shines in Water Technology, Recycling, Renewable Energy

    Earth Day 2016: Israel Shines in Water Technology, Recycling, Renewable Energy

    JNS.org – On Friday, April 22, 196 nations across the world mark Earth Day, the annual day dedicated to environmental protection that was enacted in 1970. Not to be forgotten on this day is Israel, which is known as the “start-up nation” for its disproportionate amount of technological innovation, including in the area of protecting the environment. For Earth Day 2016, JNS.org presents a sampling of the Jewish state’s internal achievements and global contributions in the environmental realm. Water conservation Israeli […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture World New Documentary Explores Holocaust Humor, Role That Laughter Played in Death Camps

    New Documentary Explores Holocaust Humor, Role That Laughter Played in Death Camps

    Holocaust humor and the role that laughter played in the lives of Jews during World War II are the focus of a documentary that made its world premiere on Monday at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City. In The Last Laugh, first- and second-generation survivors, as well as famous Jewish and non-Jewish comedians, discuss their thoughts on when joking about the death camps is appropriate or taboo. “Nazi humor, that’s OK. Holocaust humor, no,” Jewish comedic giant, actor and filmmaker Mel Brooks says in the film. “Anything I […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Blogs Tragedy Culminates in ‘Celebration,’ Says Israeli Author Who Lost Son to Terror

    Tragedy Culminates in ‘Celebration,’ Says Israeli Author Who Lost Son to Terror

    JNS.org – Sherri Mandell’s life was devastated on May 8, 2001, when her 13-year-old son Koby was murdered by terrorists on the outskirts of the Israeli Jewish community of Tekoa. Yet Mandell not only shares the story of her loss, but also celebrates the lessons she has learned from tragedy. Indeed, “celebrate” is this Israeli-American author’s word choice. Her second book, The Road to Resilience: From Chaos to Celebration (Toby Press), came out earlier this year. The lesson: in every celebration, there is […]

    Read more →