Left mulling Obama-inspired push for peace

Peace Now leader says since US president's speech in J'lem he received countless messages, "there has been an awakening."

Yariv Oppenheimer 370 (photo credit: Facebook)
Yariv Oppenheimer 370
(photo credit: Facebook)
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 large demonstration.
“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.
“Our 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.”
Former deputy 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.
“Only time 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 peace.”