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Friday, April 12, 2024

While President Barack Obama was in Israel last week, UF students followed his messages closely. The four-day visit included stops at the West Bank and Jordan.

UF associate professor Matthew Jacobs said one of Obama’s goals on the trip was to move beyond his tense relations with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“In some ways, you can see part of this trip is a response to that, to try to go around Netanyahu,” said Jacobs, who teaches history and international relations courses.

However, he found the trip unsurprising.

“If there’s anything that surprised me, it was his willingness ... to challenge Netanyahu a little bit in terms of just the nature of their relationship,” Jacobs said. “But he never openly did it.”

Rami Okasha, a 20-year-old UF electrical engineering junior and vice president of UF’s chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine, said although Obama criticized some Israeli actions, he did not take a strong stance against them.

However, Nicole Krassner, president of Gators for Israel, said Obama’s visit to the Iron Dome defense system was symbolic.

“It was a tangible way to see the U.S. relationship with Israel because the Iron Dome was heavily funded by the American government,” the 21-year-old UF political science senior said.

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