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obama visit

  • PHOTOS: Israeli forces demolish Palestinian camp built to protest Obama visit

    Until its forcible eviction Saturday night, Palestinian activists built and maintained a new protest camp in E1 to protest Israeli occupation and settlement expansion, directing their message to visiting U.S. President Barack Obama. Photos by: Ryan Rodrick Beiler, Anne Paq, Yotam Ronen, and Oren Ziv As U.S. President Barack Obama's plane was landing at Ben Gurion Airport on Wednesday, Palestinian activists returned to the E1 area to establish yet another protest village in the tradition of Bab Al-Shams and other similar actions in recent months. Organizers named the new camp "Ahfad Younis" after the main character in the novel Bab Al-Shams ("Gate of the Sun") which…

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  • Five positive points in Obama’s Jerusalem speech

    While Obama's speech was biased, antiquated and problematic, it did include a handful of statements, ideas and words that provide even the slightest bit of hope. By Moriel Rothman So. Huh. President Barack Obama just finished his speech here in Jerusalem, a few blocks away from where I am sitting. I want to get some thoughts out, initial reactions before I delve into others’ analyses, interpretations, et cetera. The speech was, as we all knew that it would be, filled with strategic gloop designed to make Israelis feel good. Most of it was vague, theoretical, and not substantially or symbolically different than…

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  • Obama compares Israeli occupation to racial discrimination in U.S.

    The speech Barack Obama gave this evening in Jerusalem was supposed to be the pinnacle of his visit. But actually, things worked out a bit differently. The most important comments the president made were just a few hours before the Jerusalem speech, while he was still in Ramallah talking with Palestinian officials. Everyone was wondering just how much tough love the president was going to show his friend, Israel, during his Jerusalem speech. And indeed, there were a few moments. Condemning settlement violence was a first, for example. And although his criticizing the settlements and the occupation on the whole…

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  • Obama's speech: The view from the crowd

    The crowd in Jerusalem Thursday was a stark reminder that many Israelis simply do not live and breathe politics, the conflict, or other issues that are breathing down Obama's neck. But the real question was posed by one youngster who on the bus ride back to Tel Aviv kept shaking his head, saying, "I wonder what will come of it." President Obama gave a master speech at the convention center in Jerusalem Thursday night. Gone was the stammering, glancing-around insecurity he showed in his interview with Israeli Channel 2 prior to the visit, or the cautious pauses on display in…

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  • Obama's speech: Israel's Left and Right can be happy, and the occupation is here to stay

    Some initial thoughts on President Barack Obama's speech in Jerusalem (full text here): Measuring the value or effect of a speech on its own is futile. Words matter in a political context, power relations and the actions that they accompany. Just as nobody seriously thinks that a good speech can make health care reform pass in the House, Obama's speech needs to be evaluated within the politics that surrounded his first term and his current visit to Israel and the Occupied Territories. On the level of words and rhetoric, there was a mixture of "good" and "bad" in Obama's speech. The worst parts,…

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  • Numbers for the president: Israeli attitudes toward Obama

    An examination of Israeli public opinion toward U.S. President Obama and the two-state solution. The picture isn't as bleak as the mainstream media might lead you to believe. As President Obama continues his meetings in the region today, making the rounds to Ramallah and then back to Jerusalem, it is useful to keep in mind some trends regarding public opinion. Here are two specific themes that are relevant for this trip - attitudes towards the two-state solution to which he and his main interlocutors are so committed, and attitudes towards him. Regarding the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, the Joint Israeli Palestinian Polls…

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  • An open letter to Barack Obama: You are welcome in Bethlehem

    Mr. President, you are welcome in Bethlehem in occupied Palestine, with open arms, in the hope that you are devoted to justice and a positive peace. By Antwan I. Saca BETHLEHEM – Just like the many other visitors that we receive here in this land, we would do our best to overwhelm you with our cultural hospitality and traditions. Mr. President, I would seize this opportunity to not only welcome you to visit Bethlehem, but also to welcome all U.S. citizens to visit my small city. I invite you, Mr. President, to be in my city and among the nation…

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  • Palestinians greet Obama with popular resistance; army arrests dozens

    After several days of small-scale demonstrations ahead of Obama's visit, Palestinians organized two larger events Wednesday morning as the American president landed at Ben-Gurion Airport. About 500 people rebuilt 15 tents on privately owned lands in the new village-outpost of "Bab Al-Shams," located at the heart of the much controversial E-1 area, where Israel intends to build thousands of new settler houses, isolating Jerusalem from the rest of the West Bank and cutting it in two. Bab Al-Shams was originally set up a few months ago, and dismantled by Israeli police several days later. Activists in the new Bab Al-Shams held…

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  • The less Obama does on this visit, the better

    Given the likely options, I'm glad Obama is coming here tomorrow to do nothing rather than to try to revive the peace process. Today, reviving the peace process, Obama-style, would mean coercing Mahmoud Abbas to enter negotiations with Netanyahu in return for nothing, or next to nothing, such as a token prisoner release, some musical chairs with a few checkpoints and a vague statement of good intentions. And for that, Netanyahu would get what he very much wants: "peace negotiations" with no end, which would provide diplomatic cover for his terribly right-wing, settlement-crazy new government. At the same time, Abbas…

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