'Rock Star' Barack Obama Wins Over Young Israelis With Call for Peace

Standing Ovations Greet 'Empathy' Speech — Leaders Yawn

Rock Star: Israelis were bowled over by Barack Obama’s speech, which included impromptu off-the-cuff pleas for a new generation to push for peace. Leaders on both sides of the Green Line were less impressed.
getty images
Rock Star: Israelis were bowled over by Barack Obama’s speech, which included impromptu off-the-cuff pleas for a new generation to push for peace. Leaders on both sides of the Green Line were less impressed.

By Reuters

Published March 21, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

(page 2 of 2)

Direct peace talks between the two sides broke down in 2010, with the Palestinians walking away from the table when Israel refused to extend a partial freeze on settlement building.

“Certainly U.S. policy is biased toward the Israeli position,” said Tayseer Khaled, a member of the executive committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).

“President Obama did not say what is required of Israel and did not take a clear position on settlements and the borders of the Palestinian state.”

Palestinian hopes that Obama would change the dynamics of their decades-old conflict with Israel soared in 2009 when he made a speech in Cairo openly denouncing Israeli settlements.

The address in the Egyptian capital was portrayed as a “new beginning” in relations between the United States and the Muslim world. But four years on, students in Cairo expressed disappointment.

“Obama undertakes policies that show more understanding of the Islamic world, but he did not achieve anything for the Palestinian cause,” said Mohammed Abdel Rahman, a 20-year-old science student at Cairo University.

Obama appealed directly to Israelis to put themselves in the shoes of stateless Palestinians, saying Western-backed leaders in nearby Ramallah were ready for meaningful talks.

But Israeli Deputy Defence Minister Danny Danon threw cold water on the idea. “It is clear to us that we all want peace, but the public in Israel understands today that to our regret there is no real partner,” he told Israel radio.

Even some of Obama’s audience, while welcoming his warmth and wit, questioned his vision of hope.

“I agreed with a lot of the things he said, but there was also a lot of unrealistic optimism,” said Tal Ginzberg, 25, a student at Ben Gurion University in Beersheba.

“He is right that the Palestinians deserve their own state, but he ignores the fact that they are led by terrorist groups.”

The Palestinian leadership in the West Bank has renounced violence, but has said it will not return to negotiations unless Israel halts the settlement building.

Wasel Abu Yousef, a senior PLO leader in Ramallah, said he had heard nothing in the past two days to make him optimistic. “Obama’s visit provides no clear way forward for a serious solution to the conflict,” he told Reuters.


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!
  • "When it comes to Brenda Turtle, I ask you: What do you expect of a woman repressed all her life who suddenly finds herself free to explore? We can sit and pass judgment, especially when many of us just simply “got over” own sexual repression. But we are obliged to at least acknowledge that this problem is very, very real, and that complete gender segregation breeds sexual repression and unhealthy attitudes toward female sexuality."
  • "Everybody is proud of the resistance. No matter how many people, including myself, disapprove of or even hate Hamas and its ideology, every single person in Gaza is proud of the resistance." Part 2 of Walid Abuzaid's on-the-ground account of life in #Gaza:
  • After years in storage, Toronto’s iconic red-and-white "Sam the Record Man" sign, complete with spinning discs, will return to public view near its original downtown perch. The sign came to symbolize one of Canada’s most storied and successful Jewish family businesses.
  • Is $4,000 too much to ask for a non-member to be buried in a synagogue cemetery?
  • "Let’s not fall into the simplistic us/them dichotomy of 'we were just minding our business when they started firing rockets at us.' We were not just minding our business. We were building settlements, manning checkpoints, and filling jails." What do you think?
  • PHOTOS: 10,000 Israel supporters gathered for a solidarity rally near the United Nations in New York yesterday.
  • Step into the Iron Dome with Tuvia Tenenbom.
  • What do you think of Wonder Woman's new look?
  • "She said that Ruven Barkan, a Conservative rabbi, came into her classroom, closed the door and turned out the lights. He asked the class of fourth graders to lie on the floor and relax their bodies. Then, he asked them to pray for abused children." Read Paul Berger's compelling story about a #Savannah community in turmoil:
  • “Everything around me turns orange, then a second of silence, then a bomb goes off!" First installment of Walid Abuzaid’s account of the war in #Gaza:
  • Is boredom un-Jewish?
  • Let's face it: there's really only one Katz's Delicatessen.
  • "Dear Diaspora Jews, I’m sorry to break it to you, but you can’t have it both ways. You can’t insist that every Jew is intrinsically part of the Israeli state and that Jews are also intrinsically separate from, and therefore not responsible for, the actions of the Israeli state." Do you agree?
  • Are Michelangelo's paintings anti-Semitic? Meet the Jews of the Sistine Chapel: http://jd.fo/i4UDl
  • 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.