Haaretz Analysts and Contributors Round Up Obama's First Presidential Visit to Israel

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Concerns that Obama's first presidential visit would achieve little in the way of rekindling the peace process may have been exaggerated, says Chemi Shalev. In talks with Netanyahu, ahead of his meeting Thursday with President Mahmoud Abbas, the U.S. president put the Palestinians at the forefront. His speech to Israeli students in Jerusalem later in the day, which is expected to focus on coming to terms with Palestinians, will mix a bit of empathy with tough love.

Pressure on Israel will increase as the United States distances itself from the Middle East, predicts Haaretz Editor-in-Chief Aluf Benn. While pledging commitment, Obama has offered no clear-cut solutions to the Iranian nuclear problem or to the disintegration of Syria. As Israel becomes increasingly less capable of confronting Iran, its dependence on American military support will grow.

Obama's Thursday speech, viewed as the cornerstone event of his visit, is specifically targeted at those who can make the greatest possible change in the future -- Israeli youth. If they do prove receptive to the president's message, writes Bradley Burston, it will be because of the ideologies that have paralyzed and polarized their country during its brief history.

Obama's message will be a call to Israelis to wake up and not let their Jewish Athens become a Sparta of eternal war, says Ari Shavit. If Israel is becoming an island onto itself, then its people must look ahead to where it is being carried and guide it to placid waters.

President Obama, please apply pressure on us to end the occupation, begs Gideon Levy. Encourage justice, prevent bloodshed. The alternative is much worse.

According to reports, President Obama and beauty queen Yityish Aynaw are to meet and talk about, of all things, Jonathan Pollard. Sarah Hankins writes that this is more likely to be a waste of time and a tricky political maneuver, than a productive and worthwhile affair.

Obama, Netanyahu and Peres listen to the national anthem at Israel’s airport.Credit: AFP

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