Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Obama hits the right notes with Israelis

In talking to Israelis, you first have to give stage directions, meaning you need to convince them you support them. Only then can you critique what they do.

Obama hits the right notes with Israelis

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An Israeli friend of mine once said that, in talking to israelis, you first have to give stage directions, meaning you need to convince them you support them. Only then can you critique what they do.

In his speech today to young Israelis, President Obama managed to press all the right emotional buttons. He talked about holding an annual Jewish Passover seder in the White House, to commemorate the Jewish exodus from slavery in Egypt. He spoke of the Jewish need for their own homeland, dating back to the time of the bible, and fueled by centuries of persecution (in contrast to an earlier speech in which he said the Israeli state grew out of the Holocaust).

He spoke of the commonalities between our two countries and our unshakeable security ties. He pledged not to let Iran get nukes.

And then he hit the high note. Those who reject Israel's right to exist, he said, "might as well reject the earth beneath them and the sky above, because Israel's not going anywhere.: He added: "So long as there is a United States of America, you are not alone."

Only then, after evoking cheers and applause, did he raise the issue of peace with the Palestinians and a two state solution. Mirabile dictu, the audience cheered for that, too.

Which goes to show that, if a US president shows he cares, he can elicit Israeli huzzahs for something they would have booed had he not first convinced them he had their back. 

Inquirer Opinion Columnist
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About this blog

Trudy Rubin’s Worldview column runs on Thursdays and Sundays. Over the past decade she has made multiple trips to Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Egypt, Turkey, Israel and the West Bank and also written from Syria, Tunisia, Lebanon, Iran, Russia, Ukraine, South Korea and China. She is the author of Willful Blindness: the Bush Administration and Iraq, a book of her columns from 2002-2004. In 2001 she was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in commentary and in 2008 she was awarded the Edward Weintal prize for international reporting. In 2010 she won the Arthur Ross award for international commentary from the Academy of American Diplomacy.

Reach Trudy at trubin@phillynews.com.

Trudy Rubin Inquirer Opinion Columnist
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