US President Barack Obama’s call for young people to push their leaders to make
peace will likely lead to a new national campaign, Peace Now leader Yariv
Openheimer said on Sunday.
Openheimer said he had received countless
calls, emails, Facebook messages, and tweets since Obama’s speech to students at
the Jerusalem International Convention Center on Thursday afternoon. He said his
organization was mulling joining others on the Left in starting a campaign via a
“There is no doubt that there has been an awakening
since the speech,” Openheimer said.
“There is momentum on the diplomatic
issue, and we can do our part to help it.”
Openheimer called on his
Facebook page to help turn Obama’s words into actions, making reference to the
US president’s statement that Israelis were “not alone,” which he impressed the
students by saying in Hebrew.
“Over the past several years, there were
many moments when I thought I was almost alone,” Openheimer wrote.
desire for peace, our disgust with the occupation, the daily reality in which
settlers do whatever they want in the territories without getting punished, the
moral deterioration, and the indifference of much of our society to what is
happening beyond the Green Line have become part of life. But there are also
moments when you realize the struggle, the delegitimizing, the cursing and
slander are all worth it, because of the importance of our goal of ending the
conflict with the Palestinians and ensuring that Israel will remain a Jewish
democratic state for many generations to come.”
Openheimer thanked Obama
for “countering years of right-wing brainwashing” of Israelis and reminding him
why Peace Now exists.
Labor MK Stav Shaffir, who led the socioeconomic
protests of the summer of 2011, said she wished a push for peace would come from
young Israelis without Obama asking for it.
“A strong country does not
require an American president to tell it what it already knows and has for a
long time,” Shaffir said.
“Israel must stop fearing itself, rise up,
remove the dust, and start being the beautiful and correct state it was born to
be. How much more so now, that the official push has come.”
defense minister Dalia Rabin of Labor, who took Obama to the grave of her
father, slain prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, told reporters that she hoped the
president’s visit would return Israelis to her father’s path.
will tell if Obama’s visit helped Yitzhak Rabin’s legacy,” she said. “But there
is no doubt that the intention is to return us in the direction of dialogue and
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