President Obama today delivered a speech at the Jerusalem Convention Center directly to the people of Israel on Israeli television. Emphasizing the point that "peace is possible." President Obama made a strong case for the two sides to get together and iron out an agreement.
The goal was to speak not "just to Israelis, but to Israeli young people," said Ben Rhodes, Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications.
Ben Rhodes said that the "speech -- frankly, the President very much wanted to have the opportunity to speak not just to Israelis, but to Israeli young people, so we've worked to help build a crowd that will bring in a significant number of Israeli university students from the many universities that our embassy partners with within Israel."
Ben Rhodes said that the "President's speech, I think will focus on the nature of the ties between the United States and Israel, the broad agenda that we work on together on security, on peace, on economic prosperity. President Obama wanted a chance to speak to the future of that relationship, so discussing not just the nature of the challenges that America and Israel face today, but also where the United States and Israel are working to move together as we head into the future of the 21st century."
He started the speech with "Shalom" and ended it with the words "Toda raba." What he said in between was that he wanted to connect with the people of Israel and again, "especially so many young people."
President Obama talked about the young people in America. "When I look at young people within the United States, I think about the choices that they must make in their lives to define who we will be as a nation in this 21st century, particularly as we emerge from two wars and a painful recession. No matter how great the challenges are, their idealism, their energy, and their ambition always gives me hope."
He compared the American young people to the young people in Israel. "I see the same spirit in the young people here today."
He emphasized that for "young Israelis, I know that these issues of security are rooted in an experience that is even more fundamental than the pressing threat of the day. You live in a neighborhood where many of your neighbors have rejected your right to exist. Your grandparents had to risk their lives and all they had to make a place for themselves in this world. Your parents lived through war after war to ensure the survival of the Jewish state. Your children grow up knowing that people they have never met hate them because of who they are, in a region that is changing underneath your feet."
President Obama also reated on a personal note that "When I consider Israel’s security, I think about children like Osher Twito, who I met in Sderot – children, the same age as my own daughters."
He showed empathy toward the young people as he related it to his own daughters. "Osher Twito who went to bed at night fearful that a rocket would land in their bedroom simply because of who they are and where they live. That’s why we’ve invested in the Iron Dome system to save countless lives – because those children deserve to sleep better at night."
He added that America will be there for Israel and "that’s why we have made it clear, time and again, that Israel cannot accept rocket attacks from Gaza, and have stood up for Israel’s right to defend itself. And that’s why Israel has a right to expect Hamas to renounce violence and recognize Israel’s right to exist."
Presidet Obama also said that he thinks about the "five Israelis who boarded a bus in Bulgaria, who were blown up because of where they came from; who were robbed of the ability to live, and love, and raise families. That’s why every country that values justice should call Hizbollah what it truly is – a terrorist organization."
President Obama vowed that "when I consider Israel’s security, I also think about a people who have a living memory of the Holocaust, faced with the prospect of a nuclear-armed Iranian government that has called for Israel’s destruction."
President Obama once again reiterated America's position on Iran that "Iran must know this time is not unlimited. And I have made the position of the United States of America clear: Iran must not get a nuclear weapon."
"This is not a danger that can be contained. As President, I have said to the world that all options are on the table for achieving our objectives. America will do what we must to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran," he promised to the cheers of the audience at the Jersusalem Convention Center.
In a pointed message to the young people of Israel, President Obama said "that so long as there is a United States of America, Ah-tem lo lah-vahd. The question, then, is what kind of future Israel will look forward to. And that brings me to the subject of peace."
"First, peace is necessary. Indeed, it is the only path to true security. You can be the generation that permanently secures the Zionist dream, or you can face a growing challenge to its future. 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," urging the two-state solution in his attempt to sell it to the young people of Israel.
In trying to sell the two-state solution to Israel, President Obama said that "negotiations will be necessary, but there is little secret about where they must lead – two states for two peoples. There will be differences about how to get there, and hard choices along the way. Arab States must adapt to a world that has changed. The days when they could condemn Israel to distract their people from a lack of opportunity are over. Now is the time for the Arab World to take steps toward normalized relations with Israel."
But Obama also said that the Palestinians must do their part. "Palestinians must recognize that Israel will be a Jewish state, and that Israelis have the right to insist upon their security. Israelis must recognize that continued settlement activity is counterproductive to the cause of peace, and that an independent Palestine must be viable– that real borders will have to be drawn. I’ve suggested principles on territory and security that I believe can be the basis for talks."
He asked the young people of Israel to step back and "for the moment, put aside the plans and process. I ask you, instead, to think about what can be done to build trust between people."
President Obama acknowledges that there are barriers to peace and that "there will be many voices that say this change is not possible. But remember this: Israel is the most powerful country in this region. Israel has the unshakeable support of the most powerful country in the world. Israel has the wisdom to see the world as it is, but also the courage to see the world as it should be."
He quoted Ben Gurion who once said, “In Israel, in order to be a realist you must believe in miracles.”
He closed by telling the young people of Israel and promised that "you can count on America as your greatest friend, I am confident that you can help us find the promise in the days that lie ahead."
"Peace is possible," the President said in the theme of his speech.
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John is the author of an award-winning book, the 2010 Winner of the USA National Best Book award for African American studies, published by The Elevator Group, Mr. and Mrs. Grassroots. Also available an eBook on Amazon. John is also a member of the Society of Midland Authors and is a book reviewer of political books for the New York Journal of Books . John has volunteered for many political campaigns.