Obama Middle East Speech Round-Up
It should come as a shock to no one that President Obama’s speech yesterday on the Middle East has engendered strong reactions from the across the global and ideological spectrum, particularly in response to his comments on Israeli-Palestinian peace. The President’s call for a peace agreement based on 1967 borders is also framing the visit of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who arrived stateside today. And beginning this weekend, the annual AIPAC conference gets underway, bringing thousands of passionate Israel advocates together in Washington to hear in person from both President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu.
A quick Google search of “Obama Middle East Speech” yields a return of 7,065 news articles. In case you find that amount of reading overwhelming, we’ve narrowed that down by a few to give you a taste of the responses and coverage of the speech. As always, we welcome your feedback.
Writing in the Jerusalem Post, Alan Dershowitz shows his hand in the headline of his piece, “President Obama’s Mistake.” Dershowitz praises the President for focusing on Israel’s security and noting Hamas’s violent charter. But he says the President erred: “Without insisting that the Palestinians give up their absurd claim to have millions of supposed refugees “return” to Israel as a matter of right, he insisted that Israel must surrender all of the areas captured in its defensive war of 1967, subject only to land swaps.”
Jeffrey Goldberg, of The Atlantic, takes issue with Prime Minister Netanyahu’s reaction to the President’s speech, calling it “something of a hissy fit.” In Goldberg’s opinion, Netanyahu outlining his “expectations” of the President “was not appropriate, and more to the point, it was not tactically wise.”
Blogger Andrew Sullivan contends that, “The verbal formula that essentially repeats the standard position of every recent US administration on the two-state solution did not strike me as anything new…”
Writing at The Daily Beast, Peter Beinart places President Obama’s words on the peace process within the larger context of the Arab Spring. “By embracing all–rather than only some–of the Arab spring, Obama also powerfully distanced himself from Benjamin Netanyahu, a man who supports Arab democracy so long as it never impairs his ability to forestall Palestinian democracy. Obama’s spoke strongly about Israeli security, and he has backed up those words by helping Israel build its potentially revolutionary antimissile defense system, Iron Dome. But when it came to a Palestinian state, he put more distance between himself and Netanyahu than he has since he lost the settlements fight.” In the end though, Beinart questions how impactful the speech will be. “All this may not matter as much as we’d like. American power has declined in the Middle East… Even the Palestinians–long the weakest player in the region–seem to be pursuing a strategy based on a post-American world. People in the Middle East don’t listen to American speeches like they once did.”
Israeli opposition leader Tzipi Livni came out swinging, calling on Prime Minister Netanyahu to resign in the wake of his comments on the speech. In her words, Netanyahu was seeking to mollify members of his coalition, and “An American president that supports the two-state vision is representing Israeli interests and is not anti-Israel.”
There will be more to come throughout the weekend and into next week. Stay tuned…