Friday, June 5, 2009

Obama's dream vs. reality

JPost Gerald M. Steinberg

President Barack Obama's Cairo speech was first and foremost an affirmation of the American dream, both in terms of his own story, and also of the broader national ethos.

History, he told his Arab and Muslim audience, was an obstacle to be overcome, and no differences were too great to prevent understanding and cooperation to achieve common objectives. Obama preached the virtues of freedom, religious tolerance, including for persecuted Copts in Egypt, and equal educational opportunities for women - all major problems in Arab societies.

This optimism was also an integral part of his framework for ending the long and violent Arab-Israeli conflict, based on the "land for peace" formula. Here, Obama is on shaky ground. After the lofty words that accompanied the Oslo process ended in mass terror, Israelis are less willing to assume that the gap between rhetoric and reality can be overcome in a few years.

The American president may believe that he has articulated the principles of mutual acceptance that "everyone knows to be true," but this is a stretch. His "everyone" ignores the army of propagandists who promote the anti-Israel narrative, label every act of self-defense a "war crime" and a "human rights violation," and reject the right of Jewish self-determination.

The call for Hamas - the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood - to act responsibly to "put an end to violence" and "recognize Israel's right to exist" is extremely far fetched, even for Obama. Hamas belongs in the first part of the speech, which focused on confronting "violent extremism in all of its forms," including al-Qaida and the Taliban.

In promoting his peace plan, including the demand for a freeze in Israeli settlements, Obama has imagined a false and highly dangerous symmetry. Israelis are far more vulnerable to American pressure than the Palestinian leaders (Hamas and Fatah) or the dictatorships that control Egypt or Syria. No Israeli leader can afford to ignore or reject American coercion, particularly as Iran continues efforts to acquire nuclear weapons. But if Netanyahu accepts Obama's demands, and there is little or no change in the hatred, violence and rejectionism on the Arab side, the "land for peace" exchange will fail, and Israel will have neither.[...]


  1. Interesting

  2. I don't get it.

    The U.S. goes into Bosnia to save Muslims from Serbs and Croats.

    The U.S. goes into Kosovo to save Muslims from Serbians.

    The U.S. goes into Somalia to save Muslims from each other.

    The U.S. goes into Afghanistan to save Muslims from the Taliban.

    The U.S. goes into Iraq to save Muslims from Saddam Hussein.

    The U.S. economy's dependence on obscene amounts of oil has created billionaires in the Saudi desert who would more rightly be a bunch of sheepherds.

    And Obama's the one trying to make friends because the Muslims feel slighted?

  3. Recipients and PublicityJune 7, 2009 at 8:16 AM

    I: The End of America’s Strategic Alliance with Israel? [Caroline Glick] (national review, Thursday, June 04, 2009)

    From an Israeli perspective, Pres. Barack Obama’s speech today in Cairo was deeply disturbing. Both rhetorically and programmatically, Obama’s speech was a renunciation of America’s strategic alliance with Israel.

    Rhetorically, Obama’s sugar coated the pathologies of the Islamic world — from the tyranny that characterizes its regimes, to the misogyny, xenophobia, Jew hatred, and general intolerance that characterizes its societies. In so doing he made clear that his idea of pressing the restart button with the Islamic world involves erasing the moral distinctions between the Islamic world and the free world.

    In contrast, Obama’s perverse characterization of Israel — of the sources of its legitimacy and of its behavior — made clear that he shares the Arab world’s view that there is something basically illegitimate about the Jewish state.

    In 1922 the League of Nations mandated Great Britain to facilitate the reconstitution of the Jewish commonwealth in the Land of Israel on both sides of the Jordan River. The international community’s decision to work towards the reestablishment of Jewish sovereignty in Israel owed to its recognition of the Jewish people’s legal, historic, and moral rights to our homeland.

    Arab propaganda finds this basic and fundamental truth inconvenient. So for the past 60 years, the Arabs have been advancing the fiction that Israel’s existence owes solely to European guilt over the Holocaust. As far as the Arabs are concerned, the Jews have no legal, historic, or moral right to what the Arabs see as Islamic land.

    In his address, while Obama admonished the Arabs for their pervasive Jew hatred and Holocaust denial, he effectively accepted and legitimized their view that Israel owes its existence to the Holocaust when he said, “the aspiration for a Jewish homeland is rooted in a tragic history that cannot be denied,” and then went on to talk about the Holocaust.

    Just as abominably, Obama compared Israel to Southern slave owners and Palestinians to black slaves in the antebellum south. He used the Arab euphemism “resistance” to discuss Palestinian terrorism, and generally ignored the fact that every Palestinian political faction is also a terrorist organization..."

  4. Recipients and PublicityJune 7, 2009 at 8:17 AM

    II: "...In addition to his morally outrageous characterization of Israel and factually inaccurate account of its foundations, Obama struck out at the Jewish state through the two policies he outlined in his address. His first policy involves coercing Israel into barring all Jewish construction in Judea and Samaria (otherwise known as the West Bank), and Jerusalem.

    Obama claims that this policy will increase prospects for peace. But this is untrue. As Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas made clear in his Washington Post interview last week, Obama’s trenchant campaign against Jewish construction in these areas has convinced the Palestinians they have no reason to be flexible in their positions towards Israel. Indeed, Obama’s assault on Israeli construction and his unsubstantiated, bigoted claim that the presence of Jews in Judea, Samaria, and Jerusalem impedes progress towards peace ensures that there will be no agreement whatsoever between Israel and the Palestinians.

    After all, why would the Palestinians make a deal with Israel when they know that Obama will blame Israel for the absence of a peace agreement?

    Even more strategically devastating than his castigation of Israel as the villain in the Arab-Israel conflict is Obama’s stated policy towards Iran. In Cairo, Obama offered Iran nuclear energy in exchange for its nuclear-weapons program. This offer has been on the table since 2003 and has been repeatedly rejected by the Iranians. Indeed, they rejected it yet again last week.

    Obama must know that his policy will not lead to the hoped for change in Iran’s behavior. And since he must know this, the only rational explanation for his decision to adopt a policy he knows will fail is that he is comfortable with the idea of Iran becoming a nuclear power. And this is something that Israel cannot abide by.

    The only silver lining for Israelis from the president’s speech in Cairo and his general positions on the Middle East is that Obama has overplayed his hand. Far from bending to his will, a large majority of Israelis perceives Obama as a hostile force and has rallied in support of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu against the administration. This public support gives Netanyahu the maneuver room he needs to take the actions that Israel needs to take to defend against the prospect of a nuclear armed Iran and to assert its national rights and to defend itself against Palestinian terrorists and other Arab and non-Arab anti-Semites who wish it ill.

    Caroline B. Glick is the senior fellow for Middle Eastern affairs at the Center for Security Policy and the senior contributing editor of The Jerusalem Post."


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