Sir, – I’d like to thank President Obama for having come to Israel to show us support and remind us of the Zionist dream.
Indeed, the early Zionist idealists expected the Arab world to accept us because we were going to help it achieve economic prosperity.
But 100 years of brutal, violent Arab rejection have taught us that this dream will have to be deferred indefinitely.
As Obama pointed out, we could help our Arab neighbors raise their economic conditions – we could be a hub for thriving regional trade and an engine for opportunity – if only they choose to end their perpetual state of war with us. For now, however, the chance of the Jews of Israel persuading Islamist and Arab fanatics to accept a Jewish state in the Middle East is even less than the chance that Obama has of persuading the Tea Party to accept his vision for America.
Many Israelis agree that a two state solution is the best way to achieve peace and stability – but only if the new Palestinian state is not a deadly threat. Given our unfortunate history it is now up to the Palestinians to convince us that such a state will not be a threat. Only then will we push our leaders to take risks for peace.
Sir, – Barack Obama’s speech to students in Jerusalem contained soft love, hard love and the rationalist’s call for reason and compromise. It was ecstatically received by the audience and pundits alike.
I would like to suggest a new political test in the Middle East – the Obama Test: The day the president can make the same speech in Ramallah, Gaza and Cairo and be similarly received, we might be nearing peace.
Sir, – President Obama looked tired and kind of bored while addressing the students. He looked like he was saying things without really meaning them, like he had to say how Abbas was a peace partner but didn’t really believe it himself.
There was no great intensity or excitement in his voice at all. I have to wonder just what he was doing here (aside from fouling up the pre-Passover shopping for everyone in Jerusalem).
I didn’t hear a great speech, just empty words spoken without much feeling. Or maybe it was just me?
Sir, – President Obama had a memorable performance in Israel. His smiles, waves, praises and Hebrew phrases convinced so many that he is our true friend. But the true Obama was highlighted in his “showpiece address” to students.
“Just as Israelis built a state in their homeland,” he told the young people, “Palestinians have a right to be a free people in their own land.”
Instead of insignificant trinkets, Obama should have received a copy of Joan Peters’s From Time Immemorial so he’d know the historical facts.
Yes, Israelis built a state in their 5,000-year-old homeland. But the so-called Palestinians are not, and never have been, a “people.”
They are migrants from surrounding Arab lands. They do have a right to be free “in their own land,” but their homelands don’t want them back.
As long as Obama believes that Israel is “occupying” land that belongs to another nation, and that Israel could possibly be responsible for “the realization of an independent and viable Palestine,” anachnu ken levad (we are indeed alone).
As history has shown, the Jewish nation’s existence and welfare are not dependent on any mortal.YEHUDA OPPENHEIM
Sir, – If President Obama were really interested in being “open and honest” he would have delivered the same speech to the Knesset. Instead, he decided to speak to an audience that was guaranteed to be more receptive to his views. (By refusing to invite representatives from Ariel University, he also made certain that the one group of students who might have disagreed with him would not be present.) Obama made a direct plea to the audience to act in accordance with his recommendations: “Political leaders will not take risks if the people do not demand that they do. You must create the change that you want to see.” Coming less than two months after the Israeli election, this plea suggested a refusal to accept the will of the people as expressed through the democratic process.
Remember the uproar when Prime Minister Netanyahu seemed to be involving himself in domestic US politics during last year’s American elections? Obama’s appeal to students may be seen as an attempt to overturn the recent Israeli election results.
In deciding to snub the country’s elected representatives, Obama signaled to both Israelis and the Arab world that he does not trust the government to act in what he sees as the best interests of the region.
EFRAIM A. COHEN
Sir, – President Obama advocates two states for two nations and everyone applauds – just as once everyone believed the Earth was flat. It took a brave man to say it was round, and progress was made only after the truth was accepted.
The same applies to the Middle East conflict. There will be progress only when it is accepted that there are no two states and no two nations! CHARLES OREN
Sir, – Not so long ago, US Vice President Joe Biden visited Israel and the US administration – the entire world, for that matter – was appalled because the Netanyahu government had announced its intention of building apartment buildings (admittedly, in what is considered by some to be occupied territory).
Last week the US president visited Israel and the Palestinians fired rockets into Israel (admittedly, into what is considered by some as occupied territory).
The lack of outrage and even silence on the part of the US and the international community was deafening.
As long as we are sanctioned and condemned for our intent to build, and the Arabs are not reprimanded for their intent to kill – there will be no peace.ELI SCHMELL
Sir, – Shame on that spoilsport Isi Leibler, who insists on seeing US President Barack Obama as he is, instead of as the warm friend of Israel we would like him to be (“The Obama visit and American Jewry,” Candidly Speaking, March 21).
By having made his first presidential visit to Cairo for “outreach” to Muslims, and skipping Israel altogether, and by his policy of putting “daylight” between the US and Israel, Obama bolstered Palestinian intransigence and empowered the mullahs in Iran in their pursuit of nuclear weapons.
Now, after four years of relentless Iranian weapons building and US warnings to Israel against attacking – when it is probably too late for Israel to succeed – the US president arrives to tell us that he has changed his mind and we are free to defend ourselves after all. The only result is that if Iran wipes us of the map he can say it wasn’t his fault.
To add insult to injury, Obama had the gall to bypass our government and speak directly to us, to tell us in effect that if only we disown the leaders we have just elected can we have peace.
Isn’t there an old saying to the effect that when someone spits in your face, don’t try to convince yourself it’s merely raining? NAOMI SANDLER
Sir, – I once had a real estate broker show me a property and thoroughly convince me of its remarkable qualities.
I was terribly disappointed and hurt when I found out that the owner had no intention of selling.
If President Obama wants to be a good broker, he should confirm that peace is available before he sells it to our young people and causes them to be terribly disappointed and hurt – especially since they are the ones who will pay for it.TZVI MEIR