CAIRO – In remarks being translated live for broadcasts and Webcasts in every major language, President Barack Obama said Thursday that the United States wants “common ground” and “a new beginning” with the Muslim world, where America’s image plummeted with the Bush administration’s response to the 9/11 attacks.
“Much has been made of the fact that an African-American with the name Barack Hussein Obama could be elected President. But my personal story is not so unique,” he said in the Grand Hall of Cairo University. “The dream of opportunity for all people has not come true for everyone in America, but its promise exists for all who come to our shores.”
The 55-minute speech was remarkable and historic not so much for the delivery or even the words, but for the context, the orator, the moment. Obama included blunt talk about the United States, Israel, Iraq, his predecessor and al Qaeda.
“I am aware that some question or justify the events of 9/11,” he said, speaking before a red curtain and six pairs of U.S. and Egyptian flags. “But let us be clear: al Qaeda killed nearly 3,000 people on that day.”
The president, who left the room to applause from an audience carefully chosen to reflect diverse perspectives, invoked the “Holy Koran” twice, and the “Holy Bible” once.
“It’s easier to start wars than to end them” he said. “It’s easier to blame others than to look inward; to see what is different about someone than to find the things we share. But we should choose the right path, not just the easy path. There is one rule that lies at the heart of every religion – that we do unto others as we would have them do unto us. [Applause] This truth transcends nations and peoples.”
Obama got a standing early ovation when he declared: “I consider it part of my responsibility as President of the United States to fight against negative stereotypes of Islam wherever they appear.
But some audience members gasped when he followed that with: “That same principle must apply to Muslim perceptions of America. Just as Muslims do not fit a crude stereotype, America is not the crude stereotype of a self-interested empire.”
The speech – delivered in Egypt, where the political opposition can be jailed, beaten or outlawed — is a major test of Obama’s ability to translate his appealing rhetoric into real change at what he acknowledged is “a time of tension between the United States and Muslims around the world.”
But conservative former U.S. Ambassador to United Nations John Bolton said he considered that one of several “flawed premises” upon which the speech was built, noting America’s longstanding alliance with Saudi Arabia as sign that it’s not all tension between the U.S. and Arab allies.
“This is another Obama blame America first moment,” Bolton said.
Bolton also criticized Obama for what he called “a very hard line against Israeli settlements.”
“When you criticize your strongest ally in an environment like that, it is intended to send a message to that ally,” he said.
Liz Cheney, a former State Department official and daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, said it was a “well-delivered speech” and that Obama’s personal story “sends a message about America being a land of opportunity.”
Some video clips:
Kind of a snore to me. Lots of fluffy rhetoric and such. He did give some hard truths in the middle of it which was good. I am not one for these “groundbreaking” speeches as most of this has been said before, much by President Bush. Therefore, it isn’t too knew other than the media loving Obama so they make it sound as if it means more than when it was previously said.
Obama has extended an invite for the murderous terrorist organization known as Hamas to join “peace” talks, Fox News reports:
In an apparent policy shift, President Obama on Thursday invited Hamas — a designated terror organization — to “play a role” in the future of the Palestinian people.
During his speech to the Muslim world in Cairo on Thursday, the U.S. president bluntly recognized the group, which has called for the destruction of Israel, in a two-sentence passage that was part of a broader discussion about the terms for peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians.
“Hamas does have support among some Palestinians, but they also have to recognize they have responsibilities. To play a role in fulfilling Palestinian aspirations, to unify the Palestinian people, Hamas must put an end to violence, recognize past agreements, recognize Israel’s right to exist,” Obama said.
The president then called on Israel to end settlement construction and for both sides to embrace a two-state solution. He reiterated that the U.S. bond with Israel is “unbreakable.”
Some observers said they were struck by the firm tone Obama took with both sides in addressing the generations-old conflict and particularly with his recognition of Hamas, which may signal to the group that it is seen as an inevitable part of the Palestinian future.
Perhaps next we will sit down with Asama Bin Laden and make some concessions. After that, we’ll invite Hugo Chavez and Kim Jong Il to the White House for movie night.
Hamas kills innocent men, women and children, they do not seek peace, only the destruction of Israel. The only “role” Hamas can play is to end their terrorist policies toward Israel and stop murdering people indiscriminately. Aside from that, they are a terrorist organization as they’ve been designated, I can’t believe we’re capitulating to them.