Saturday, November 18, 2017
News Roundup

Analysis: Obama wins over many Israelis

RECOMMENDED READING


TEL AVIV, Israel — Across Israel Friday, news stations aired a special live broadcast of President Barack Obama's last day in the Jewish state with a headline summarizing his visit: "US President wins our hearts and minds."

Television hyperbole aside, Obama did appear to succeed at laying the groundwork to turn around his image in the country from aloof to friend. Over three busy days, he did it in a deliberate and stage-managed effort that ranged from the symbolic — repeated bows to Israel's Jewish history — to the substantive — a shift of tone toward Israel on a key issue with the Palestinians.

Capping it off, he helped engineer a phone call between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday that offered a first step toward re-establishing diplomatic relations between the two countries, a major development for an increasingly isolated Israel.

The call, made from an airport trailer just as Obama was about to leave Israel, came nearly three years after an Israeli naval raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla left nine Turkish nationals dead. Israeli officials initially refused to apologize for the incident, and Turkey broke off diplomatic ties.

On Friday, however, with Obama standing by, Netanyahu apologized for the incident and admitted there had been "operational failures." The two countries agreed to begin normalizing relations in a move that could help coordinate a regional response to the spillover from Syria's ongoing civil war. Obama said later in Jordan that he had been working on the two leaders for two years.

"There are obviously going to still be some significant disagreements," Obama said. "But they also have a wide range of shared interests, and they both happen to be extraordinarily strong partners and friends of ours."

"Now Israel knows it has a friend in the White House," said Udi Segel, an Israeli diplomatic analyst for Channel Two Hebrew News. "For any critics that were saying that Obama's visit was all hugs and smiles and empty words, the phone call showed otherwise."

The visit was Obama's first as president, and he poured on the charm with the Israeli people, who previously had given him poor marks in polls, and with Netanyahu.

The charm offensive to Israel came with a price, though.

For every friend Obama appeared to gain among Jewish Israelis, he appeared to lose one among Palestinians, especially in the West Bank, where activists and officials complained the president treated them as an afterthought. While he delivered a speech to the Israeli people in Jerusalem, for example, he did not speak to the public in the West Bank.

Obama, who spoke extensively about Israel's right to defend itself and the security needs of the Jewish state, made sure that he was photographed in some of Jerusalem's most important sites Friday, including the Holocaust memorial, Yad Vashem.

"It might be a little cheesy, but that kind of stuff is really important to Israelis," said Sam Mitzner, a 32-year-old American immigrant to Israel. "I never voted for him — mostly because I bought the argument that he was not pro-Israel — but I was really impressed with him on this trip. I would go so far as to say that I regret not voting for him."

Chaim Rimon, a 24-year-old student from Tel Aviv University, said that he felt like Obama's speech to the Israeli people "could have been written by an Israeli." His girlfriend, Tal Shamzi, also a student at Tel Aviv University, added, "All of us are a bit in love with him now."

Not all the students, however, were won over by Obama's glowing remarks about Israel.

Saher Jamhour, a 19-year-old student from Qassim College in northern Israel, said that as a non-Jewish resident of Israel, she felt ignored by Obama's speech.

"We are angry, and we should be angry. He came here but didn't say anything about us; we were invisible to him," she said, citing the moment when Obama spoke about Israel as a Jewish, democratic state. "What about the Palestinians, like me, who have Israeli citizenship? Do we not deserve Obama's attention?"

Comments
Cannon Fodder podcast: Bucs-Dolphins preview

Cannon Fodder podcast: Bucs-Dolphins preview

Greg Auman has a final preview of Sunday’s Bucs-Dolphins game in Miami in his latest Cannon Fodder podcast.He talks about key matchups to watch for, from perhaps the NFL’s best slot receiver in Jarvis Landry, to Miami’s vulnerabilities at right tackl...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Possible wrong-way crash on Courtney Campbell Causeway late Friday

TAMPA — A multi-vehicle crash on the Courtney Campbell Causeway late Friday may have been caused by a driver traveling in the wrong direction, Tampa police said.The crash occurred in the eastbound lanes closer to the Tampa side of the causeway, near ...
Updated: 10 hours ago

Region football: Clearwater Central Catholic 37, Calvary Christian 10

CLEARWATER — The ice bath ensued for Clearwater Central Catholic coach Chris Harvey after the Marauders’ 37-10 victory over Calvary Christian in Friday’s Class 3A region final. The win placed the Marauders (11-0) in their fifth state tournament since...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Tampa police investigate drive-by shooting in Seminole Heights

Tampa police investigate drive-by shooting in Seminole Heights

TAMPA — Police took one person into custody late Friday after a drive-by shooting ended in Seminole Heights.The incident, which unfolded about 11 p.m., did not appear to be related to the spate of other recent shootings in Seminole Heights that have ...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Region football: Plant 22, Viera 18

Region football: Plant 22, Viera 18

MELBOURNE — With 1 yard separating Plant from an incredible come-from-behind victory, or a devastating defeat, it all came down to a matter of trust.And for Panthers coach Robert Weiner, there was no one he would put more faith in to get that 1 yard ...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Region football: Armwood 22, Hillsborough 0

Region football: Armwood 22, Hillsborough 0

SEFFNER — Hillsborough conquered one nemesis with last week’s win over Class 6A defending state finalist Lake Gibson, the team that knocked the Terriers out of the playoffs in the first round a year ago.But there was an even bigger stumbling block to...
Updated: 10 hours ago

Region football: Ocala Vanguard 35, Mitchell 31

NEW PORT RICHEY — The start wasn’t quite befitting of a playoff game between undefeated teams, but the end of Friday’s war between Ocala Vanguard and Mitchell certainly was.Like last year’s Class 6A regional semifinal, the Mustangs held a three-point...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Region football: Green Cove Springs Clay 52, Zephyrhills 49

Region football: Green Cove Springs Clay 52, Zephyrhills 49

ZEPHYRHILLS — For Zephyrhills, Friday night’s Class 5A region semifinal against Green Cove Springs Clay was doomed by 12 bad minutes. The Bulldogs led by four points at halftime but allowed 28 unanswered points in the third quarter and were not able ...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Region football: Lakewood 20, Jesuit 7

Region football: Lakewood 20, Jesuit 7

ST. PETERSBURG — Lakewood came into Friday’s playoff game knowing its defense had to help control field position against Jesuit. The Spartans (9-1) left Friday’s game with a ticket to Immokalee for a region final — and six Tigers (6-5) turnovers en r...
Updated: 10 hours ago

Region football: Tampa Bay Tech 42, Palmetto 26

TAMPA — Another Friday night, another offensive explosion.Tampa Bay Tech’s offense continued its torrid pace and quarterback Michael Penix Jr. accounted for five total touchdowns as the Titans rolled past Palmetto 42-26 in a Class 7A, Region 3 semifi...
Updated: 10 hours ago