Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.

Mixed Reaction to Obama in Israel

March 24, 2013 1:28 am 1 comment

U.S. President Barack Obama waves before addressing Israeli students at the International Convention Center in Jerusalem on March 21, 2013. Photo: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90.

By Mati Tuchfeld, Shlomo Cesana and Gideon Allon/JNS.org

Reaction was mixed in Israel to the public statements made by U.S. President Barack Obama during his visit, with some embracing Obama’s appeal for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and others voicing skepticism about the practicality of the goals he articulated.

“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,” Obama told a packed audience of young Israelis at the International Convention Center in Jerusalem on Thursday.

“There is no question that Israel has faced Palestinian factions who turned to terror, and leaders who missed historic opportunities. That is why security must be at the center of any agreement,” Obama said. “And there is no question that the only path to peace is through negotiation.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu thanked Obama “for the unreserved support of the State of Israel.”

“The prime minister agrees with the president that we have to advance a peace that ensures the security of Israeli citizens. The prime minister also agrees that we have a wonderful country,” the Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement.

Economics and Trade Minister Naftali Bennett (Habayit Hayehudi) disagreed with Obama over the need for two states for two peoples.

“His remarks certainly came from a place of concern for Israel and true friendship,” Bennett wrote on his Facebook wall. “But the results of our previous withdrawal were felt this morning in Sderot [a rocket from Gaza damaged a Sderot home] and in the thousands of victims in recent years. A Palestinian state is not the right path… For the attention of [Secretary of State] John Kerry, Bennett’s diplomatic worldview has not changed because of Obama’s speech.”

“Besides,” Bennett added, “a nation cannot occupy its own land.”

Habayit Hayehudi’s faction chairwoman MK Ayelet Shaked said, “If we are talking about Iron Dome, then Judea and Samaria are our Iron Dome. There is no doubt that Obama is a real friend of Israel. But it will be we who have to face the disastrous and catastrophic consequences of the establishment Palestinian state. It is no wonder that the Israeli public chose, only this past week, a government that does not have the idea of the establishment of a Palestinian state in its coalition guidelines.”

“The president’s speech was warm and embracing, but at the same time he tried to create the illusion of a public that supports steps that are dangerous for Israel,” the Yesha Council said in a statement.

A former head of the Yesha Council, Danny Dayan, Tweeted on Friday that he was surprised at how naive Obama was. “Not even an American president can revive a corpse. The two-state solution is a corpse,” Dayan said.

But not everyone shared Dayan’s pessimism. “Obama’s speech was very important and inspiring,” said Justice Minister Tzipi Livni (Hatnuah). “It is our job to implement his Zionist vision.”

“Obama wanted to speak directly to the young people of Israel, and they should take his words about pressuring Israel’s leaders as an order and not a recommendation,” said Member of Knesset Itzik Shmuli (Labor).

“The president’s speech matched my worldview,” said Meretz chairwoman Zehava Gal-On. “He spoke from the heart and entered peoples’ hearts.”

In Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square, dozens of Israelis watched Obama’s speech on a giant screen, in an event organized by the Peace Now movement.

Even before Obama left the country, pundits were trying to summarize the visit and assess what would be the takeaway for Israel. Analysts agreed that it was a great achievement for Israel that Obama told the Palestinians there should be no preconditions and no freeze of constructoon beyond the Green Line for peace talks to resume, and that Palestinians must recognize Israel as a Jewish state. The fact that the American president refrained from setting a timetable for the negotiations was also perceived as an achievement.

“If the core issues are solved of sovereignty and security the settlement issue will be solved,” Obama said in Ramallah on Thursday.

On the question of Iran, analysts agreed that Israel had several reason to be pleased: First, Obama made it clear that Israel has the right to defend itself, by itself, against any threat. Second, the president said that Israel could rely on the U.S., which would not allow Iran to obtain nuclear weapons. Third, Obama said that continued talks with Iran were not unlimited in time, stressing that “all options are on the table,” and that the U.S. was willing to make good on that threat.

“We do not have a policy of containment when it comes to a nuclear Iran,” Obama said, Wednesday during a press conference with Netanyahu. “Our policy is to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.”

Yet, the differences between Obama and Netanyahu on Iran remained apparent during that press conference. The Obama administration has so far resisted the prime minister’s calls to set a “red line,” a point that, if crossed by Iran’s nuclear program, would prompt U.S. military action against the Islamic Republic.

“We prefer to resolve this diplomatically, and there is still time to do so,” Obama said Wednesday.

Netanyahu expressed his appreciation for the fact that Obama has “acted to thwart this [Iranian] threat, both through determined diplomacy and strong sanctions that are getting stronger yet,” but noted that those efforts have not changed Iran’s behavior.

“Notwithstanding our joint efforts and your great success in mobilizing the international community, diplomacy and sanctions so far have not stopped Iran’s nuclear program,” Netanyahu said.

Likud MK Tzachi Hanegbi, who is considered close to Netanyahu, and who also serves on the influential Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, said Friday that “there was doubt” about America’s commitment to stop Iran from going nuclear.

Speaking on Israel Radio, Hanegbi said, “American presidents in the past have made stern statements regarding North Korea, but that at the moment of truth the Americans balked.” The outcome, Hanegbi said, “is known to all.”

This story first appeared in Israel Hayom and is distributed with the permission of that newspaper.

1 Comment

  • Obama says a Palestinian nation is good for business but refused to have the USA be a nation that sponsored its creation at the UN only recently.

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...

  • Arts and Culture Second Jaffa Jazz Festival to Reunite International, Israeli Musicians

    Second Jaffa Jazz Festival to Reunite International, Israeli Musicians

    For the second time, Israel will host the Jaffa Jazz Festival, according to Broadwayworld.com. The festival will unite 43 Israeli musicians and eight international artists for a three-day event. The program will include a special performance by an ensemble of top jazz students studying at Belgium’s Royal Conservatoire of Antwerp, the Belgrade Music Academy in Serbia, Israel’s Rimon School of Music and the jazz program of the Israel Conservatory of Music in Tel Aviv. There will also be a jazz show for children led by Israeli saxophonist […]

    Read more →
  • Sports Israel’s First NASCAR Driver Revved Up to Win

    Israel’s First NASCAR Driver Revved Up to Win

    JNS.org – As a young boy growing up in Ashdod, Israel, Alon Day got his first go-kart at age 9. By 15, he was racing them. Less than a decade later, Day has become the first Israeli professional race car driver on the NASCAR circuit. He made history by competing in NASCAR’s Xfinity Series race at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on August 13. “Driving a race car is not like any other sport,” Day told JNS.org. “You are actually almost flying […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Writer of Popular Kids Series to Premiere Autobiographical Solo Show ‘Not That Jewish’

    Writer of Popular Kids Series to Premiere Autobiographical Solo Show ‘Not That Jewish’

    The writer of a popular children’s television series will premiere an off-Broadway solo show called “Not That Jewish,” according to The Hollywood Reporter. Written and performed by Monica Piper — the Emmy Award-winning showrunner of Nickelodeon’s “Rugrats” — the show is described as “the autobiographical telling of a Jew…’ish’ girl’s life.” “Not That Jewish” explores Piper’s Bronx upbringing in a show-business family, her comedy-club debut and her “almost” night with former Yankees legend Mickey Mantle. “Audiences can expect to leave laughed-out, a little teary-eyed and […]

    Read more →
  • Sports Scottish Soccer Team Will Fly to Israel on Private Jet Used by Madonna

    Scottish Soccer Team Will Fly to Israel on Private Jet Used by Madonna

    Scotland’s Celtic soccer club will fly to Israel with the same private jet Madonna used while on tour, The Scotsman reported on Monday. According to the report, the team is heading for the Jewish state to compete against Israel’s Hapoel Be’er Sheva on Tuesday night, and will be transported in the customized, luxurious Boeing 757-200 that the pop icon used in New Zealand for her six-month Rebel Heart tour, which wrapped up in March. The plane is on loan from Greece-based GainJet Aviation and can accommodate 62 passengers. The […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Revealed: Actor Jonah Hill Officiated at Wedding of Fellow Jewish Star, Singer Adam Levine

    Revealed: Actor Jonah Hill Officiated at Wedding of Fellow Jewish Star, Singer Adam Levine

    Jewish actor Jonah Hill revealed on Wednesday morning that he had officiated the wedding of good friend and Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine. The “War Dogs” actor, 32, was a guest on Sirius XM’s The Howard Stern Show when the conversation turned to Levine’s July 2014 wedding to Victoria’s Secret model Behati Prinsloo. Hill said that after he was asked to officiate the nuptials, he started getting worried about the type of speech he was going to deliver. “I’m writing all these things, and then I […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Music Jewish Indie Rocker Dedicates New ‘Refugee’ Track to Grandfather Who Fled Nazi Persecution

    Jewish Indie Rocker Dedicates New ‘Refugee’ Track to Grandfather Who Fled Nazi Persecution

    Jewish indie singer Ezra Furman released a song on Wednesday that he said was dedicated to his grandfather, who escaped Nazi persecution. Furman told the website Consequence of Sound that the new track, called “The Refugee,” is his “first song entirely concerned with my Jewish background and present, a song dedicated to my grandfather who fled the Nazis, as well as to all of the refugees desperate for a home today.” He added, “May all the wanderers find the homes they seek, and […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Uncanny Toy Replica of Israeli ‘Wonder Woman’ Gal Gadot Auctioning on eBay for Over $1,600

    Uncanny Toy Replica of Israeli ‘Wonder Woman’ Gal Gadot Auctioning on eBay for Over $1,600

    An artist is auctioning on eBay a Wonder Woman doll he purchased and repainted to create an uncanny replica of Israeli actress Gal Gadot, who will play the superhero in an upcoming 2017 spin-off film. Noel Cruz purchased a 19-inch action figure of the Batman v Superman star and replaced its plastic hair with a new wig, and added a material belt and Princess Diana’s lasso, according to the blog Io9, which first reported on Cruz’s work. He then painted the doll to make it look like the […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture British Jewish Star Daniel Radcliffe Hopes New Movie About Neo-Nazis Will Spark Dialogue to Defeat Antisemitic Rhetoric

    British Jewish Star Daniel Radcliffe Hopes New Movie About Neo-Nazis Will Spark Dialogue to Defeat Antisemitic Rhetoric

    Racist and antisemitic rhetoric supported by white supremacists can be defeated by opening channels for meaningful dialogue, British-Jewish actor Daniel Radcliffe said, ahead of the release of his new film, in which he plays an undercover FBI agent infiltrating a neo-Nazi group. “[White supremacist ideologies] have more power the less we talk about them. So hopefully this does start a kind of conversation, which would be a tiny part of a much larger conversation that needs to happen,” the actor, 27, told The […]

    Read more →