Posted by SHMUEL ROSNER
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If you missed my article in The New Republic earlier this week, read it in full here. The headline says: "Hey Obama, don't waste your time giving a speech in Israel". Here's a paragraph:
Yes, Israelis might appreciate the honor of having the U.S. president talking directly to them. (As Benn writes, "In the 16 rosy years of Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, Israelis became spoiled by unfettered presidential attention.") But what exactly is he going to tell them? That peace is good for all and that he wants to advance peace? They know. That Palestinians suffer? They know. That he cares deeply for Israel's security? They know he says that, and would like to believe it, but the real game-changer will require proof, not words. Clinton and Bush didn't just say "We care for Israel" and instantly become darlings of the Israeli public. They showed they care--mostly by getting along well with the Israeli governments of Rabin and Sharon respectively. The Obama administration has done little to curry Israeli trust with their churlish attitude toward Netanyahu. In this sense, I agree with Benn and Burston: Regardless of the inevitable vapidity of an Obama speech directed at Israelis, the act of making the trip to Israel would be at least be a "deed"--a demonstration of good will on his part.
But words alone will not make Israelis trust Obama. Israelis do not suffer from lack of understanding of the issues; they suffer from peace-fatigue. They look at "peace processes" with suspicion, based on experience and events. They are scarred enough to know what has working and what has not, and they are tired of the good intentions of enthusiastic novices, believing that with their youth and their smarts they'll be able to come up with some magic trick that can somehow round a square. What Obama needs is a convincing plan that makes sense. It does not look like he has one.
Baruch atem b'Shem, Yeshua