04 June 2009

Obama's Cairo Speech: What He Said and What He Didn't

I didn't see Obama's Cairo speech, so I missed the teleprompted grins and gambols, but I did get a chance to read the text posted by the LA Times. What I found was a mixed bag.

The President knows Americans are starting to lose confidence in his decision making. While his popularity remains high, polls consistently show that Americans do not like his policies, especially when it comes to national defense and the economy (leading me to once again wonder if they should pass out IQ tests at voter registrations). People may still like his charming scripts, but deeds eventually overcome words. Obama knew that the world was watching so he did throw mainstream America a few bones.
For one thing, Obama shot a hole in the radical denial of the Holocaust saying,
Denying that fact [the Holocaust] is baseless, ignorant, and hateful. Threatening Israel with destruction – or repeating vile stereotypes about Jews – is deeply wrong.
The president also tried to be clear about 9/11:
I am aware that some question or justify the events of 9/11. But let us be clear: al Qaeda killed nearly 3,000 people on that day. The victims were innocent men, women and children from America and many other nations who had done nothing to harm anybody.
And, unlike Jimmy Carter, Obama refused to attack Israel as a terrorist state, instead acknowledging their relationship with America.
America’s strong bonds with Israel are well known. This bond is unbreakable. It is based upon cultural and historical ties, and the recognition that the aspiration for a Jewish homeland is rooted in a tragic history that cannot be denied.
But as always is the case with Obama, his world view will not allow him to make the most obvious of observations concerning America and it's citizens. For most of us the bond with Israel is based less on cultural and historical ties than the fact that Israel is a democratic nation that shares of core value of freedom.

Obama also took some subtle shots at Israel. For example, when addressing Palestinian violence (aka, terrorism) he conjured a disconnected analogy.
“Palestinians must abandon violence. Resistance through violence and killing is wrong and does not succeed. For centuries, black people in America suffered the lash of the whip as slaves and the humiliation of segregation. But it was not violence that won full and equal rights. It was a peaceful and determined insistence upon the ideals at the center of America’s founding."
In Barack Obama's world, Israel is the cruel slave owner and the terrorists who bomb their pizza parlors and intentionally fire missiles into their schools are simply the oppressed acting up and acting out. In fact, when Obama gave examples of antisemitism around the world he curiously avoided the primary group that regularly promises the elimination of all Jews: radical Islamic terrorist.

In an even more troubling passage, Obama claimed “for more than sixty years they [Palestinians] have endured the pain of dislocation.” But wait, Israel did not gain control of the Sinai Peninsula, the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Golan Heights until 1967, after the six-day war. Where did the extra 20 years come from? By claiming the the pain of dislocation began 60 years ago, Obama is pointing back to 1948 and the establishment of a Jewish state -- he is no longer talking about the Palestinian dilemma, but playing into the argument that the Arab world has claim to all of Israel.

And, of course, Obama's "history lesson" also fails to mention Jordan and Egypt's role in the Palestinian camps nor does he comment even in passing that more Jews were dislocated from Arab states in 1948 than Arabs from Israel.

It appears as though Barack Obama tried to play the middle road in this speech, taking shots at the most ludicrous accusations sputtered from our enemies. But there were also some disturbing revelations to the underpinnings of the administration's Middle East policy. I'm not so sure how well this will play with people who actually understood what was revealed and know the threats that haunt the world.


  1. namaste said...

    khaki, i think you give prez-o too much credit (unless of course you're being flip). my guess is, his failure to mention more accuracies in the israel/palestine history is the information is simply absent from his intellectual kool-aid bank of ideas.

    as i read through his speech i could just imagine barry and his speech writers googling there little fingers blue.

    good catch on the disconnected israel as slave-holder analogy.

  2. WomanHonorThyself said...

    brilliant piece!..Hussein will keep defending anti semites..dont fret!..ack!