President Obama gave a major speech in Israel on Thursday, intending to reframe his approach to the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. As we have noted before, the president's efforts in the region have suffered setbacks, sometimes self-inflicted. At the moment, prospects for sustained peace negotiations are dismal.
In 2008, President George W. Bush also gave a major speech in Israel — when his administration was engaged in serious but ultimately unsuccessful negotiations. In many ways, the two speeches are very similar — almost as if Obama's speechwriters had studied Bush's speech — but there are also some important differences.
Obama, meanwhile, tweaked some of his language on the conflict, tilting toward Israel in potentially significant ways.
_Mention of Harry Truman's almost instant recognition of Israel
"Eleven minutes later, on the orders of President Harry Truman, the United States was proud to be the first nation to recognize Israel's independence. And on this landmark anniversary, America is proud to be Israel's closest ally and best friend in the world." — Bush
"Every step of the way, Israel has built unbreakable bonds of friendship with the United States of America.Those ties began only 11 minutes after Israeli independence, when the United States was the first nation to recognize the State of Israel. As President Truman said in explaining his decision to recognize Israel, 'I believe it has a glorious future before it not just as another sovereign nation, but as an embodiment of the great ideals of our civilization'" — Obama
It did take just 11 minutes for Truman to issue a statement recognizing Israel after the declaration was made in Jerusalem. Few people remember that Truman took this step over the vehement opposition of his revered secretary of state, George C. Marshall. The president issued the statement without informing State Department diplomats at the United Nations.