Barack Obama Plans To Launch Charm Offensive Aimed at Israeli Public

Can the Great Communicator Connect With Skeptical Nation?

Putting on the Charm: Barack Obama is planning to take his message — and his famed charm — directly to the Israeli public.
getty images
Putting on the Charm: Barack Obama is planning to take his message — and his famed charm — directly to the Israeli public.

By Reuters

Published March 14, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

After nearly four years of often testy relations with Benjamin Netanyahu, President Barack Obama is about to try a different tack - going over the head of Israel’s prime minister and appealing directly to the Israeli people.

Obama’s first presidential visit to Israel next week, while certainly including meetings with Netanyahu, will focus heavily on resetting his relationship with the country’s wary public as he seeks to reassure them he is committed to their security and has their interests at heart.

All signs are that Obama hopes the strategy will give him more leverage with the right-wing Netanyahu - politically weakened by January’s election in which centrists made surprising gains - to pursue a peaceful resolution with Iran and eventually address the Israeli-Palestinian stalemate.

But it will be no easy task.

Obama faces the challenge of overcoming Israeli suspicions that have lingered since his early days in office when he pressed Netanyahu for a freeze on settlement expansion and launched a short-lived outreach to Tehran, Israel’s arch-foe.

On top of that, Obama - known for his cool, detached public persona - rarely comes across with the kind of “I feel your pain” diplomacy that Bill Clinton used to charm Israelis and Palestinians alike during his presidency.

Even so, some Middle East experts say Obama may be able to take advantage of an opening to build public confidence in Israel, the first foreign destination of his second term.

His visit comes at a time when U.S. and Israeli strategic concerns seem more closely aligned than they have been in years, with the West’s nuclear standoff with Iran at a critical stage and Syria’s civil war seen as a threat to regional stability.

“There’s no substitute for actually being there,” said Dennis Ross, Obama’s former Middle East adviser. “It’s an opportunity for him to connect with the Israeli psyche.”


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Lusia Horowitz left pre-state Israel to fight fascism in Spain — and wound up being captured by the Nazis and sent to die at Auschwitz. Share her remarkable story — told in her letters.
  • Vered Guttman doesn't usually get nervous about cooking for 20 people, even for Passover. But last night was a bit different. She was cooking for the Obamas at the White House Seder.
  • A grumpy Jewish grandfather is wary of his granddaughter's celebrating Easter with the in-laws. But the Seesaw says it might just make her appreciate Judaism more. What do you think?
  • “Twist and Shout.” “Under the Boardwalk.” “Brown-Eyed Girl.” What do these great songs have in common? A forgotten Jewish songwriter. We tracked him down.
  • What can we learn from tragedies like the rampage in suburban Kansas City? For one thing, we must keep our eyes on the real threats that we as Jews face.
  • When is a legume not necessarily a legume? Philologos has the answer.
  • "Sometime in my childhood, I realized that the Exodus wasn’t as remote or as faceless as I thought it was, because I knew a former slave. His name was Hersh Nemes, and he was my grandfather." Share this moving Passover essay!
  • Getting ready for Seder? Chag Sameach! http://jd.fo/q3LO2
  • "We are not so far removed from the tragedies of the past, and as Jews sit down to the Seder meal, this event is a teachable moment of how the hatred of Jews-as-Other is still alive and well. It is not realistic to be complacent."
  • Aperitif Cocktail, Tequila Shot, Tom Collins or Vodka Soda — Which son do you relate to?
  • Elvis craved bacon on tour. Michael Jackson craved matzo ball soup. We've got the recipe.
  • This is the face of hatred.
  • What could be wrong with a bunch of guys kicking back with a steak and a couple of beers and talking about the Seder? Try everything. #ManSeder
  • BREAKING: Smirking killer singled out Jews for death in suburban Kansas City rampage. 3 die in bloody rampage at JCC and retirement home.
  • Real exodus? For Mimi Minsky, it's screaming kids and demanding hubby on way down to Miami, not matzo in the desert.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.