(JNS.org) U.S. President Barack
Obama made an appeal for peace between Israel and the Palestinians in a
speech to a packed audience of young Israelis at the Jerusalem Convention
Center on Thursday.
“There is no question that Israel has faced Palestinian factions who turned to terror, and leaders who missed historic opportunities. That is why security must be at the center of any agreement. And there is no question that the only path to peace is through negotiation,” Obama said.
Obama also spoke at length about the Jewish connection to the land and his support for Zionism.
“And while Jews achieved extraordinary success in many parts of the world, the dream of true freedom finally found its full expression in the Zionist idea—to be a free people in your homeland,” he said.
The president praised Israel’s progress and technological breakthroughs.
“Israel has built a prosperous nation—through kibbutzim that made the desert bloom, business that broadened the middle class, and innovators who reached new frontiers—from the smallest microchip to the orbits of space,” Obama said.
But Obama also noted that despite this progress, Israelis must realize that the two-state solution is the only thing that can make Israel truly “thrive.”
“Given the demographics west of the Jordan River, the only way for Israel to endure and thrive as a Jewish and democratic state is through the realization of an independent and viable Palestine,” Obama stressed.
Obama encouraged Israelis to put themselves in the shoes of the Palestinians.
“Just as Israelis built a state in their homeland, Palestinians have a right to be a free people in their own land,” Obama said.
“The Palestinian people’s right to self-determination and their justice must also be recognized. Put yourself in their shoes; look at the world through their eyes,” he said.
Obama told Israelis he believes that true security can only be achieved through peace.
“The only way to truly protect the Israeli people is through the absence of war—because no wall is high enough, and no Iron Dome is strong enough, to stop every enemy from inflicting harm,” he said.
Jeffrey Goldberg wrote for The Atlantic that he considered Obama’s speech to be “very strong.”
“Some people won’t be satisfied, but the president conveyed, over and over again, that he stands with Israel, he believes in Israel, and so long as there is a United States, there will be an Israel,” Goldberg wrote.