Barack Obama came to Israel and Palestine, saw what he wanted to see, and conquered the mainstream media with his eloquent words. U.S. and Israeli journalists called it a dream trip: a charismatic world leader taking charge of the Mideast peace process.
While visiting Israel, Obama did not limit himself to the standard rhetorical niceties. He went over the heads of politicians and appealed directly to the Israeli public, especially the young, to make his case for a more flexible approach to negotiating with Palestinians.
Tthe best Obama can do, in the short term, is attempt to speak directly to both peoples reasserting his commitment to them and to a peaceful future in an effort to change the discourse in both societies away from the cynicism and hardline views that have made progress toward peace so difficult.
Especially in light of a new heavy-handed $6.5 million ad campaign by the Republican Jewish Coalition, all voters who are concerned about President Obama's position on Iran or continued U.S. support for Israel should -- no, must -- read the address he delivered to the UN General Assembly.
To acknowledge the occupation is to recognize the Palestinians; not as terrorists or poseurs, not as inventions, but as full, flesh and blood human beings, as entitled to their rights as we are to ours.
President Obama's speech to the General Assembly succeeded in making clear why the Palestinians had no choice but to take their statehood bid to the UN and why the United States can no longer pretend to be an "honest broker" in the conflict.
As Gabriela Shalev reminds us, it's foolish to assume that Obama is merely a puppet with Netanyahu pulling the strings. Her two years at the UN surely taught her that the real power is in Washington, not Jerusalem.
Understanding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict requires not only a grasp of cold facts and statistics, but an understanding of the daily experience of the real people who live on each side. I spoke to Palestinians on a recent trip.