During the upcoming Presidential visit to Israel and the West Bank, the Administration has decided it wants to speak to the people of Israel and the region rather than the government.
I think is is a good move. While his speech will touch on many other themes, he will obviously mention the peace process. Obama has a very hard job in this regard- needing to reassure the Israelis he gets them while making sure that the Palestinians don’t lose hope in him. Add to this the traditional political back-and-forth of DC and Obama has a lot on his plate.
With that in mind, if I was his speech writer (a dream gig if ever there was one), this is what I would suggest he say:
“Despair is not a Jewish value; you are a people of hope and your message of freedom has been an inspiration to countless millions throughout history. In your quest for peace, know that you are not alone. Peace takes risks, it takes courage, it takes conviction. Know that whenever you extend your hand in peace, the United States stands with you.
Self-reliance is a lesson that the Jewish People have had to learn in the hardest way imaginable. The trials and tribulations that history has taught you has engraved the message of ‘never again’ into your hearts and into your souls. We as a nation, as a people, stand in locked step with you as a message to the world that the Jewish People will never find themselves alone in their hour of need, that they always have a reliable ally in the people of America.
It is not just America who stands with you in your quest for peace. Yesterday, I was visiting Palestinians in the West Bank. The conflict has forced these two great peoples to build walls between each other, to cut out the every day human interactions so necessary to build the trust needed to sustain peace. So today I carry a message to you from the West Bank that the people there are ready for peace. They want to live side by side, free from a occupation that robs them of their dignity and prevents Israel from achieving the security it so desperately deserves.
Time, however, is not unlimited. As the winds of change sweep through the Middle East, Israelis and Palestinians must be clear-eyed about the new realities that surround them. While you cannot control the direction of the countries around you, you can control your own. Extremism grows in the vacuum of hope and we have all failed to provide real hope to Israelis and Palestinians that they will see the security and sovereignty that is their right. From Gaza City to Tel-Aviv, Jerusalem to Jericho, we must continue to support those who have never given up the quest for peace, despite the challenges they face. We must support those who wish to live in peace and security and marginalize those who would sacrifice their people on the altar of violence.
I have met brave pioneers of peace this week. True peace is one that is owned by the people, not just their leaders. In the face of overwhelming odds and a political reality that they cannot control, they have carried their message and cause on despite the cynicism they are greeted with. Today I pledge to you that whatever challenges at the negotiating table we might face, we will redouble our efforts to work within each society to support those who support peace and marginalize those who oppose it. As we move forward towards a two-state solution, we will make sure that progress on the political level is matched by that on the civic level – taking the momentum from the negotiating table to the streets, towns, and villages of the people most affected by the conflict. “