President Obama Embarks on a
Historic Middle East Visit
As President Obama prepares for his first official visit to
the Middle East, he has left no doubt about where he stands:
"...I think there have been times where we are not as
honest as we should be about the fact that the current
direction, the current trajectory in the region, is profoundly
negative, not only for Israeli interests but also U.S.
No previous U.S. administration has been so forthright.
President Obama has been firm in his endeavor to facilitate
negotiation towards a two state solution. He hopes to leave the
Bush Administration's legacy of empty words and no action
behind, saying that:
"The United States has to follow through on what it
says and be clear about what we believe will lead to
As the President makes
unprecedented efforts to reshape American foreign policy in this
strategically critical yet perennially volatile region. Obama and his staff have been direct when discussing key issues in the peace process.
“The Israelis apparently wanted to check if we are serious on settlements,” an Obama official said, “and they found out that we are…because we believe it's in Israel's long-term security interests.”
Special Envoy George Mitchell, who will be traveling with the
President, was equally candid: "The Israelis want us to commit
to oral understandings we have never heard about," he said, "but
at the same time they are not willing to commit to written
agreements their government has signed, like the road map and
commitment to the two-state solution."
The Obama Administration did not only reserve
"honest" words for Israel. Last week President
Obama told Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas that
the Palestinians need to do more to increase security on the
West Bank and reduce "incitement and anti-Israel sentiments" in
schools, mosques, and the public square.
But perhaps the most important thing anyone has yet said in
the Administration is this: "We do have to retain a
constant belief in the possibilities of negotiations that will
lead to peace."
Recent polls show that nearly all of the American Jewish
community wants to see such diplomatic engagement in the region.
Nearly three-quarters are willing to have the Administration put
pressure on the parties to compromise. Most Israelis, according
to another recent poll, support active U.S. involvement in
achieving Israeli-Palestinian peace and a majority said that
they would describe President Obama as “honest and
In the course of his trip, the President will be addressing a
wide range of issues as he prepares to deliver a major
speech in Cairo. We are in a position to give him the political
breathing room he will need to stand firm on the question of
Israeli settlements and a two-state solution.
Before President Obama travels to the Middle East, please let
him know: We have your back! Sign the pledge today at http://obamapledge.org
Please also consider making a donation so that we may
publicize this campaign far and wide, to further leverage the
power of our collective voices. This is a pivotal time in
Israeli, Palestinian, and American history. Let’s
do what we can to ensure that peace is achieved!
Obama: U.S. will be 'honest' with Israel on
settlements by Barak Ravid and Natasha Mozgovaya. Haaretz. June 2, 2009.
Transcript of an interview of President
Obama by Michele Norris and Steve Inskeep.
NPR. June 1, 2009.
Transcript of press conference between Abbas and Obama, May 28, 2009.
Poll of Jewish Israelis. Avaaz.org. May
Findings of polling on American Jewish attitudes
on America’s role in the Middle East. J Street. July
2008 and March 2009.
Brit Tzedek v'Shalom, The Jewish Alliance
for Justice and Peace
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Chicago, IL 60603
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