President Barack Obama has issued the first presidential video message for Rosh Hashanah (and Yom Kippur). It is worth viewing (or reading, which you can do in 7 different languages – including Arabic and Persian), because of its gracious spirit and appropriate references to Jewish tradition and history.
It is also worth noting that today’s message notably differs from the President’s message issued at the outset of Ramadan. Then, President Obama stated “Beyond America’s borders, we are also committed to keeping our responsibility to build a world that is more peaceful and secure….That is why we are unyielding in our support for a two-state solution that recognizes the rights of Israelis and Palestinians to live in peace and security.”
Today, the Rosh Hashanah message states:
“Let us work to achieve lasting peace and security for the State of Israel, so that the Jewish state is fully accepted by its neighbors, and its children can live their dreams free from fear. That’s why my administration is actively pursuing the lasting peace that has eluded Israel and its neighbors for so long.”
No mention of “the two state solution,” and a clear commitment to the security of Israel as the “Jewish state” (which President Obama has clearly said before).
Of course, the President has not dramatically altered U.S. policy which, pre-dating his tenure, has endorsed the two state solution. But after months of rancor in which many have asked the President to recalibrate his message toward Israel, maybe this is such a new beginning for a new year…?