March 23, 2013
A Meaningful Ovation
“Just as Israelis built a state in their homeland,” says President Obama, “Palestinians have a right to be a free people in their own land.” Standing ovation, the crowd goes crazy. Who is that audience so passionately endorsing Obama’s vision of peace? The Norwegian Parliament? Democratic convention-goers? Perhaps an Arab crowd in Egypt or Ramallah? Non of the above; Those were in fact Israeli students in Jerusalem.
This was another powerful speech, masterfully delivered. But for me the enthusiastic applause the President received multiple times on the Palestinian issue were the main story of the night.
Marco Werman, host of “The World” on PRI, didn’t get as excited on Thursday’s show, saying that “The President’s speech was interrupted several times by applause, but he was heckled too” (The heckler was an Arab-Israeli student who thought the speech was “extremist and Zionistic”). NPR commentator E.J. Dionne spoke Friday of Obama’s message to Palestinians that “Israelis in their heart of hearts think that peace is a good thing.” hold on - Heart of hearts? Israelis, that in 65 years of statehood yield a gazillion peace songs? Whose Oscar-nominated films are statements for peace, every single time? Israelis, who never seize to talk about peace -- This cheering crowd?!
Call me sensitive, but reports like these - redundant and single-minded, make me uneasy. Judging from such and similar examples, it seems - this week more than ever, that reality and perception are growing more and more removed.