After two whirlwind days, Haaretz contributors weigh in on Obama's visit
Remarking on a trip jam-packed with pomp, circumstance and one stirring landmark speech, Haaretz writers and columnists examine several angles of a very busy presidential visit.
Obama's visit is a royal visit of love, says Ari Shavit, referencing the poem by Israel Pincas. Here the president displayed in his actions a heart yearning for peace, with perhaps a touch of naivete, while his speech in Jerusalem served as a softly admonishing wake-up call for Israelis to enact a promising future.
Sometimes it takes someone from the outside, says Yossi Verter, to tell it like it is. Leading up to the heart of his speech with narratives of sympathy for Israel's plight, Obama changed tone to urge Israelis to recognize Palestinians' equal right to freedom and a land to call their own. While he is undoubtedly a supporter of Israel, his words belied that he is no blind follower either.
After Obama's visit, it will be more difficult for his rivals to claim that he has Israel's worst interests at heart, says Chemi Shalev. Obama's speech, delivered directly to Israeli citizens in a carefully crafted mix of support, concern and leveled calls for responsibility, might be seen as an attempt to wipe the slate clean for a new beginning, making way for better relations between the United States, Israel and her neighbors in the Middle East.
The president's speech in Jerusalem was what young Israelis not only needed, but wanted to hear, writes Bradley Burston. The speech radically redefined centrism in Israel, bringing it down to extraordinary common denominators in directions Israelis have learned to think of as diametrically opposed. He spoke of security and peace as inextricably and necessarily linked, not a narrow choice between options, but a conscious choice for both.
The diverse crowd of young students present for Obama's speech reacted, to the surprise of many, with widespread positivity to his statements about ending Palestine's occupation by Israel, says Ilene Prusher, though not all showed signs of support. Much of the crowd seemed to appreciate his honesty and willingness to see things from an Israeli perspective. One comment, which specifically cited the need to end counterproductive settlement activity, proved to be divisive however.
Debra Kamin recalls the emotion of being at Obama's first presidential acceptance speech in Chicago in 2008. Now, as a dual Israeli-American citizen at his address to the public in Jerusalem, she ruminates on the personal meaning of nationhood and the pride, despite sometimes feeling like a stranger, in being able to sing the anthems and hear the leaders of two countries she can call her own.
Whether or not you agreed with Obama's speech, it's impossible to remain indifferent, says Barak Ravid. Obama's chilling address touched all the right notes. He demonstrated an understanding of Israel's heritage, culture and history. He spoke with an earnest desire to solve its current regional troubles and begin to pave the way for peace. The only question is if Israelis will get on board.
Elections are over, says Aluf Benn, and both leaders acknowledge the importance of working together at this point. Recognizing the threat Iranian nuclear power would impose, Obama is tasked with preparing a military option, the timetable for which he and Netanyahu do not agree on, while striving toward diplomatic negotiations. Getting closer on a personal basis will make relations easier, but doesn't solve their dispute over the West Bank.
An expose released by The New York Times casts doubt on Iron Dome's effectiveness, says Alan Dershowitz, with claims that its success rate is significantly lower than what has been said. Whether true or not, this will change the perception of the Iron Dome's efficiency. The good news remains that Israeli and Palestinian leadership are closer to negotiations.
U.S. President Barack Obama may well define his Israel visit with "Veni Vidi Vici": I came, I saw, I conquered, writes Alon Pinkas. Mission: Accomplished. Goals: Achieved. Media coverage? Couldn't be better. Expectations? Reasonable. Deliverables? Maybe down the road, maybe not.