Many political progressives have harshly criticized President Obama's recent trip to Israel and Palestine. They claim he was too warm toward Israel and too lukewarm toward Palestine.
Did these critics pay close attention to what the President actually said and saw on this trip? I don't think so.
The president declined to speak to the Israeli Knesset, asking instead for a younger audience.
In his speech to Israeli youth, the President said:
"[T]he Palestinian people's right to self-determination and justice must also be recognized. Put yourself in their shoes -- look at the world through their eyes.
"It is not fair that a Palestinian child cannot grow up in a state of her own, and lives with the presence of a foreign army that controls the movements of her parents every single day."
In the picture above one of those Palestinian children watches his father show his papers to an Israeli soldier at a checkpoint.
Bethlehem Mayor Vera Baboun (shown below with the President) told Dauod Kuttub she was especially pleased that the arrival of a khamsin* sand storm that hit the area on Friday, forced the president to forego an Israeli helicopter. She observed that:
"By driving, Obama would have no choice but to see the wall surrounding the city. It was as if, she said, 'God willed that Mr. Obama enter from the gate of reality, rather than from the sky of no reality.'"
Mayor Baboun, the mother of five, is Bethlehem's first woman mayor. A former Bethlehem University English literature professor, she was elected in October, 2012. She is also a professor who has a way with words.
MJ Rosenberg was one observer of the president's trip who paid close attention to the fine print that emerged from the President's trip.
Rosenberg, a former AIPAC staffer, now a harsh (and well-informed) critic of both AIPAC and Israel, reported on the speech the President's gave to young Israelis:
"In words that must have shaken Netanyahu, Obama referred to 'the moral force of nonviolence' to resist the occupation. Coming out of left field, this was probably an indication that Obama read the Sunday New York Times magazine cover story on non-violent resistance in the West Bank by Ben Ehrenreich.
"Obama compared the Palestinian struggle to the civil rights movement in America, invoking his own daughters as beneficiaries of that struggle.
"This presidential encouragement of the one form of protest that Israeli officials fear most as threatening their hold on the West Bank was significant. It is easy to imagine Palestinian protesters now marching against the settlements, waving photos of Obama along with his words endorsing non-violent resistance's 'moral force.'"
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