PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA ADDRESSING THE PEOPLE OF ISRAEL
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA
DURING HIS SPEECH DELIVERY TO THE PEOPLE OF ISRAEL
Binyaney-Ha’uma (Jerusalem International Convention Center)
March 21, 2013
President Obama in Israel
Historic. Brilliant. These words seem to echo the sentiments of the majority of the Israeli university students toward President Obama’s speech last Thursday, March 21, 2013 at the Jerusalem International Convention Center. Hussein Ibish of the American Task Force on Palestine used these words to describe the speech, thus showing a thin strand of mutual concurrence between the opposite camps, albeit fleetingly.
Gauging by the students’ actions, President Obama’s words visibly struck chords with the young audience. They stood by his side even as one heckler (Rabeea Eid, student activist, an Arab-Israeli) tried to detract them from his message, giving the President instead a standing ovation. It was a scene that surprised even the group of journalists covering the event. What this seemed to convey is that these young Israelis found in President Obama someone with power, a leader, who has articulated their hopes for their country: to live in peace with their neighbors and gain their acceptance as a Jewish state. The President meandered his way into the hearts of his audience, one step at a time, as he illustrated the glorious past of the Jewish people, their sufferings and persecutions, as well as their triumphs and greatness. He conveyed his understanding for their profound yearning to come back home. He identified the values that both the peoples of US and Israel share, making it clear that Israel has America’s unshakeable support. Such heartwarming statements served as a backdrop for the core of his message – security, peace and prosperity. And in an almost unprecedented manner, the audience roared their approval. They exploded into applause as well when President Obama reminded them that only a two-state solution could make peace possible in the region, and that settlement and expulsion push such possibility further back.
Seeing these scenes with President Obama being able to talk directly to Israeli citizens, to get their attention, to rouse them to action, it can be said that he achieved his purpose in this visit.
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