Obama: Israelis Should Soul-Search About Seriousness On Peace
03/02/11
JTA
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NEW YORK (JTA) – President Obama reportedly urged Jewish communal leaders to speak to their friends and colleagues in Israel and to “search your souls” over Israel's seriousness about making peace.

In an hourlong meeting Tuesday with about 50 representatives from the Jewish community’s chief foreign policy umbrella group, the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, Obama reiterated the U.S. commitment to Israel, according to statements from both the White House and Conference of Presidents.

But several participants at the meeting told JTA that the president also implied that Israel bears primary responsibility for moving the peace process ahead. They interpreted the president’s comments either as hostile, naïve or unsurprising.

Obama said Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is eager to secure his legacy by establishing a Palestinian state and would accept a decent offer if it was on the table, according to participants.

“The Palestinians don't feel confident that the Netanyahu government is serious about territorial concessions,” the president reportedly said.

Obama reportedly said that the Jewish sections of Jerusalem would remain in Israeli hands as part of any peace deal, but that the Arab sections would not.

Participants uniformly declined to speak on the record about the meeting, in keeping with admonitions from Conference of Presidents leaders that specifics should not be discussed publicly. While there was general consistency in the reports about Obama's comments, interpretation of them varied widely.

“Many people felt that their worst fears about Obama were confirmed with respect to Israel,” one participant said. “They felt an enormous hostility towards Israel.”

Other participants disagreed, calling such views ridiculous. They said the meeting was a positive one, described the president as “thoughtful” and “forthcoming” in his remarks, and said no new ground was broken.

“The people who loved Obama probably still love him, the people who had big reservations about Obama probably have more reservations than they had before,” one longtime Jewish organizational official told JTA.

The atmosphere, most agreed, was cordial and gracious.

“I thought he reaffirmed his support of Israel, and I thought he did it quite well,” said one participant. “Nothing that he said would I interpret in any way as being anti Israel or opposed to Israel.”

Others suggested that the president wasn't hostile so much as naïve about Palestinian intentions and his belief about Israel's supposed lack of commitment to peacemaking. Still others suggested both interpretations were flawed.

“I think the president showed a deep understanding, in great depth, of the issues that have arisen in the Middle East, including the Palestinian-Israeli peace process as well as the broader regional issues,” a participant told JTA. “I would be very surprised for anybody in the room who listened to the detailed and thoughtful way in which he responded to questions to characterize them as naïve or unknowledgeable.”

Last Update:

03/04/2011 - 11:55

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Hi, Ben.

So we need to search our souls?

Hamas has just said it will stop the UN from teaching Palestinian children in Gaza about the Holocaust. "We cannot agree to a program that is intended to poison the minds of our children (with) … a contemptible plot (that) serves the Zionist entity with a goal of creating a reality and telling stories.”

“Creating a reality” … hmmmm … it’s good to know where your “peace partners” are coming from.

How do we communicate this measure to our government leaders? he does not have a "deep understanding."

It's offensive that obama discounts the sacrifices Israelis have made in the name of peace
It's offensive that he forces one sided pressure on Israel to make concessions that put Jews at risk.
It's offensive that Jews accept his one sided handling of the middle east problems.

I find it deeply offensive of Obama to ask Jews to search their souls. I am very comfortable with the state of my soul and if I weren't, I would consult my rabbi. I vote for government leaders to look after the material needs of our country, not to make judgements on the spiritual health of its citizens.

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