Windows for peace, and foundational myths

Preamble: Day 2 of President Barack Obama’s visit to Israel may have started on a low note, with rockets fired at southern communities from the Gaza Strip, but by afternoon things hit a crescendo — of applause, that is.

The president’s speech to an audience of largely young people in Jerusalem showcased Obama in top oratory form, assuring Israelis, in Hebrew, that they don’t stand alone, and calling on them to lift their gaze and see that “There’s an opportunity. There’s a window. Peace is possible.”

The Times of Israel’s David Horovitz called the address “the passionate speech of a left-wing Zionist,” and wrote that the president had, “deftly and subtly, unveiled a vision for Israel that all Israelis would love to realize — an Israel at peace, in a region at peace, thriving financially, admired morally, no longer at physical risk.”

On Friday, Obama is set to visit the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial and Mount Herzl, where the State of Israel buries its leaders and many of its wartime fallen. Those two sites, perched on adjacent hilltops, together embody Israel’s foundational myth of rising out of the charred remains of European Jewry.

Obama is also set to visit the cradle of Christianity, Bethlehem, which has seen a surge in violence in recent months. Much of those clashes have centered around the enclave of Rachel’s Tomb, whose towering cement walls The Times of Israel’s Mitch Ginsburg described as “both an aberration and a necessity.”

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