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Disappointment is the Byword of the Left

For many, Obama’s speech this morning came up short

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If President Obama’s speech last May pissed off the right, his speech today to the United Nations appears to be having a similar effect on the left. Specifically, Americans for Peace Now, which is left-leaning but, say, opposed to the boycotts, divestment, and sanctions movement, sent out a livid press release following the speech. “ Regrettably, the president’s words offered very little in the way of hope to Israelis and Palestinians,” APN head Debra DeLee argued. “We call on President Obama to not let this speech be his final word on the issue. We urge him to invest his efforts at the U.N. in the coming days in breaking the stalemate in Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts and to launch new negotiations based on the principles laid out in his May 19th speech.”

Technically, his speech nodded in that direction: “Faced with this stalemate, I put forward a new basis for negotiations in May,” the president said. “That basis is clear, and well known to all of us here.” APN’s objection is more that that’s all it did. “What we were looking for, more than anything, was some kind of statement of intent for action to relaunch negotiations, to challenge the leaders,” spokesperson Ori Nir told me. “He did not do that. There was nothing substantial that he offered the Palestinians to keep them from pursuing their U.N. action.” He clarified that while APN has not taken a position on the Palestinians’ U.N. plans, it is safe to say that its ultimate goal is for the parties to end up back at the negotiating table.

Another objection more left-leaning observers could have to the speech was that Obama made a one-sided case: he spoke passionately about the Israeli predicament—“Let’s be honest: Israel is surrounded by neighbors that have waged repeated wars against it. Israel’s citizens have been killed by rockets fired at their houses and suicide bombs on their buses”—but not about the Palestinians’ plight. The Center for American Progress’ Matt Duss was disappointed on these grounds: “it attempted to cordon off the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from the broader shifts in the region, as if this were remotely possible,” he wrote. Duss added, “While Obama made a stirring and important statement regarding the security threats with which Israel lives, he made no similar statement about the Palestinians, nor any recognition that it is Palestinians, not Israelis, who are living under military occupation.”

Tea-leaf readers might like to know that DeLee sits on the board of J Street PAC (which isn’t quite the same thing as J Street). The “pro-Israel, pro-peace” group controversially backed Obama’s U.N. stance.

UPDATE: J Street’s Jeremy Ben-Ami releases a statement which essentially echoes APN’s, except it is framed not at disappointment at what Obama didn’t do but as hope for what he may.

APN Reacts with Disappointment [Americans for Peace Now]
Obama’s Disappointing U.N. Speech [Middle East Progress]
Earlier: Obama, Annotated
J Street Opposes the Statehood Gambit

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jacob arnon says:

Obama had a great month helping Israel. First, his help in Cairo and today at the UN.

TILL, the Commentary Republicans are still not satisfied.

What would satisfy them? Obama changing parties?

Bill Pearlman says:

Not an Obama fan putting it mildly. But if Debra DeLee and Mat Duss hated the nspeech then it must have been pretty decent

I am no fan of the President but if “Americans for Peace” and Mr. Ben Ami are upset over what he said, it must be good for Jews and for Israel.

Doug Greener says:

Matt Duss should do his homework and not let his ideology warp his brain. The Palestinians are not living under any security threats. If they don’t try to kill Israelis, nothing will happen to them, nothing. As to “living under military occupation,” Duss can easily ascertain that since 1995, 98% of the Palestinians are living under PLO rule, by a government which they freely elected. They may be besieged and limited in their movements, especially when they try to kill Israelis, but only a demagogue would call this “military occupation.”

Am I mistaken, or weren’t the Arabs given Gaza? What have they done with it?

Best thing I can say about Obama’s speech is he didn’t nakedly blame Israel and cry over the plivht of the “poor Palestinians” the Arab world is obviously most concerned about.

Beatrix says:

Israelis are used to living in a free country where their only constraints are the limitations set by rules of decency and morality practiced by every democratic country.

Though Israel would like to end the occupation when it’s safe, I wonder if they are any more concerned about the feelings of the poor Palestinians who attacked them and would still like to destroy them then we were about the Japanese and Germans whom we occupied after the war. Treating them decently, yes. Worried about their feelings, no.

Israelis are probably becoming more and more estranged from Jews in diaspora who as a minority feel all kinds of constraints and who, as time goes on, have less and less to offer an independent, successful, predominately Jewish country.

Why are you allowing Marc Tracy, a man who obviously fails the most basic requirements of journalism, to write a column?

I hope that he is not paid for this job.

His flippant attitude toward the things he writes about, his utter lack of insight, and his sophomoric prose is an embarrassment to a publication like The Tablet which, I assume, wants to attract readers.

elixelx says:

“We call on President Obama to not let…”
Moron! Only moronic morons who would win the most moronic moron prize at the Moron Olympics…split infinitives!

Len Forster says:

Unfortunately, most of the President’s speeches come up short. Having said that, I’ll add that, even when he gives a good speech, there is no substantive follow up. He’s a very intelligent man, but he is not a leader. If Hillary Clinton had been elected President, instead of Mr. Obama, this issue of Palestinian statehood before the UN probably wouldn’t even be an issue. She would have beaten the parties into submission on the issue of negotiating a peace a long time ago. Alas, Mr. Obama is the U.S. spokesman and prime policy maker, and he just doesn’t get it, when it comes to the issues facing the Israelis and the Palestinian Arabs.

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Disappointment is the Byword of the Left

For many, Obama’s speech this morning came up short

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