President Barack Obama speaking at the funeral of former Israeli President Shimon Peres at Mount Herzl, in Jerusalem, Israel, yesterday.
There is bewilderment among many Israelis, including supporters of Obama, after the White House officially crossed out the word “Israel” from the location of Shimon Peres’ funeral yesterday, on the press release sent out to journalists, in order to “correct” a previous press release that said Peres had been buried in Israel. Above: a screenshot from the phone of a member of the White House press corps. The word Israel was also removed from other White House materials
A SPEECH WORTH WATCHING
[Note by Tom Gross]
For those who missed them, it is worth watching both President Barack Obama’s speech, and also Bill Clinton’s speech, delivered at Shimon Peres’s funeral in Jerusalem yesterday.
You can watch them here.
Many Israelis (including those who have not previously admired Obama’s foreign policy) have praised Obama’s speech, regarding it is empathetic and saying they wished he had delivered such a speech when he assumed the presidency almost 8 years ago, believing that if he had, his Middle East policy may have been more successful.
In some respects, Obama’s speech deals with the whole arc of Jewish and Israeli history and in it Obama also makes some personal reflections about his own upbringing.
AIR FORCE ONE SHUFFLE
You may also find amusing this video captured by Britain’s Sky News of Obama pleading with Bill Clinton not to keep him waiting on Air Force One yesterday as the two left Israel. Obama was eager to leave, whereas Clinton wanted to stay behind and schmooze some more in Israel, much to Obama’s annoyance.
DOES THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION NOT THINK PERES AND RABIN ARE BURIED IN ISRAEL?
What many Israelis and others don’t find amusing is that the White House – eager to stick with its fiction that (west) Jerusalem is not part of Israel – issued a press release correcting their previous press release which had stated that Peres’s funeral was in Israel. (See screenshot above.)
It is preposterous that Barack Obama, having just given a speech that many Israelis welcomed in which he appeared to show some real empathy for Zionism, and having firmly implied that he was giving the speech in Israel, should then allow his press aides to remove the word “Israel” from the White House press material sent out to hundreds of journalists.
Even journalists not normally sympathetic to Israel said they were surprised at the White House’s actions.
Obama was speaking at Mount Herzl nearby Yad Vashem in west Jerusalem. Shimon Peres’ coffin was laid to rest next to that of Yitzhak Rabin. Is it really the position of the White House that Rabin and Peres are not buried in Israel?
-- Tom Gross
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