Will Barack Obama's Speech Inspire a Generation of Israelis To Seek Peace?

Center May Run With Issue, But Bibi's Not Likely To Budge

Barack Obama put the issue of peace talks with the Palestinians squarely back on the Israeli agenda. Will the momentum keep moving or fizzle against the opposition of the right wing?
getty images
Barack Obama put the issue of peace talks with the Palestinians squarely back on the Israeli agenda. Will the momentum keep moving or fizzle against the opposition of the right wing?

By Nathan Jeffay

Published March 25, 2013, issue of April 05, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

(page 2 of 3)

Despite signs of enthusiasm, some commentators suggested that the impact of the speech, and indeed the visit, will quickly evaporate.

“Obama is returning to the United States and its problems, internal and external,” wrote the country’s best-known journalist Nahum Barnea of Yedioth Aharonoth. “He left us with a great speech, and with the same stagnation that was here before he arrived.”

It’s also true that the speech polarized Israel, enthusing the left and dismaying the right. “It’s potentially a push towards peace and it’s energizing the peace camp,” said Hagit Ofran, a senior leader in the activist group Peace Now.

The Likud lawmaker Miri Regev was quoted by media saying that the speech was “offensive to Netanyahu.” Naftali Bennett, head of the Jewish Home party, which strongly backs Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank, responded by reiterating his opposition to a Palestinian state. Bennett, Israel’s new Economy and Trade Minister, said defiantly: “Anyway, a nation does not occupy its own land.”

But there is a school of thought that the speech could have the power to move the country beyond left and right, strengthening the political center, which is already buoyant after the general election, and focus it on the peace process as well as domestic issues.

“In fact, we received the founding speech of the Israeli center,” wrote Ma’ariv’s columnist Ben-Dror Yemini.

His reasoning is that Obama presented a “double address” – one that reminded the left of the virtues of Israel, and a second that sent a message to the right that the current situation with settlements, Palestinians and the occupation is unsustainable. Yemini wrote that Obama is to be credited with reminding Israelis that they need to decide quickly that it is time for Israelis to choose between a Jewish state and a bi-national state. “Tomorrow may be too late,” he wrote.


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!
  • “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.
  • The real heroines of Passover prep aren't even Jewish. But the holiday couldn't happen without them.
  • Is Handel’s ‘Messiah’ an anti-Semitic screed?
  • Meet the Master of the Matzo Ball.
  • 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.