To be honest, it’s taken me several days to process President Obama’s speech in Cairo. But let me offer a bit of analysis now that I’ve had a little more time to think about it carefully.
First, the good news:
- It was important for the President of the United States to reach out to moderate Muslims — to the Reformers, as I describe them in Inside The Revolution — and explain America’s desire to understand them, encourage them, and help them succeed. The vast, vast majority of the world’s 1.3 billion-plus Muslims are not Radicals. They may not necessarily love the U.S., or Israel or the West, but they are not jihadists. They don’t want their children to be suicide bombers. They don’t believe in genocide. They want to live in peace and freedom. They want the opportunity to carve out a better life for themselves and their children. This is empirically true. And it should be acknowledged by President Obama as it was repeatedly by President Bush.
- It was important for the President of the United States to speak out on religious freedom and the fundamental human right for all people everywhere to be free to choose their religion for themselves. He did so, and it was good.
- It was also important for the President of the United States — especially one now openly acknowledging his Muslim roots and his upbringing in the Muslim world — to stand before a Muslim audience in an Arab capital and defend Israel’s right to exist and explain the horrors of the Holocaust. He did so. And then, of course, he went on to the Nazi death camp at Buchenwald with Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel and German Chancellor Angela Merkel to denounce such evil against Jews and against humanity, and vow never to let it happen again. “We’ve seen genocide,” President Obama said at Buchenwald, a speech that was written as a corollary to Cairo. “We’ve seen mass graves and the ashes of villages burned to the ground; children used as soldiers and rape used as a weapon of war. This places teaches us that we must be ever vigilant about the spread of evil in our own time, that we must reject the false comfort that others’ suffering is not our problem and commit ourselves to resisting those who would subjugate others to serve their own interests.” This was good.
Now, the bad news:
- President Obama failed to use the words “terrorist” or “terrorism.”
- The President failed to discuss the 30th anniversary of the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty negotiated at Camp David with the help of American President Jimmy Carter. This was the only shining moment in the Carter years, and a great blessing to all the people of the Middle East. Why avoid even mention of it, much less detailed explanation of it, when peace is what you say you’re pursuing?
- The President sounded apologetic for America’s role in the Muslim world in recent years. He didn’t explain that Americans have fought to defend the lives of oppressed Muslims in the former Yugoslavia, or in Iraq, or in Afghanistan. He didn’t note that Americans have helped liberate more than 50 million Muslims from totalitarian tyrants just since 2001. This was not simply a missed opportunity. It appeared to be a conscious choice, part of the President’s “apologize for America” tour that he has been making around the world since his inaugural. This was not good; it was offensive.
- President Obama did defend Israel’s right to exist, but then proceeded to create a moral equivalence between the Israelis and the Palestinians with regards to the peace process. Let’s be clear: the Palestinians are souls made in God’s image. They deserve dignity and respect and the freedom to govern their daily lives free from Israeli interference. But if they had wanted a sovereign state they could have accepted the U.N. Partition Plan in 1947, like the Jews did. They didn’t, and they lost. They could have accepted any one of the numerous deals Israel has offered over the past six decades, including then-Prime Minister Ehud Barak’s offer at Camp David in 2000 for the Palestinians to have a sovereign state, half the city of Jerusalem, all of Gaza and about 93% of the West Bank. But they didn’t. Instead, the Palestinians continue to miss every opportunity to miss every opportunity. Rather than accept Israeli offers and build a state, they have sent waves of terrorists, suicide bombers and tens of thousands of rockets and missiles at the Israelis. In so doing, they have forfeited any shred of trust the Israelis once had in them. The President should have explained this. He should have noted that Israel gave the Palestinians Gaza as an act of goodwill, and Hamas squandered all of that goodwill by firing more than 10,000 missiles, mortars and rockets at southern Israel and turning Gaza into a terror base camp. But he didn’t. President Obama made it sound like Israel is the obstacle to peace, when this is simply not true.
- Most concerning, the President did not truly lay down the law with Iran. He did not go to Cairo to forge an Arab-Israeli alliance against the apocalyptic, genocidal death cult leaders currently running Iran. He did not explain who the current regime in Iran is. It’s not even clear President Obama has been adequately briefed about the Iranian leadership’s End Times beliefs or how such eschatology is driving Iran to acquire nuclear weapons and the missiles to deliver them. The President continues to view Iran as though our 30 year-old tensions with them are: a) our fault; and b) just one big misunderstanding. The truth is: we didn’t seize their embassy in 1979; they seized ours. We didn’t hold their diplomats hostage and torture and humiliate them; they held, tortured and humiliated ours. We didn’t create Hezbollah as a violent terrorist group dedicated to killing Christians and Jews en masse; Iran did. We are not calling for Israel to be wiped off the map; they are. We are not denying the Holocaust, while preparing to create another Holocaust; they are. We are not calling for Iran to be annihilated; they are calling for the U.S. to be annihilated. We don’t believe we need to kill anyone to bring about the Messiah; the Iranian leaders believe they need to kill tens of millions of people to bring about their messiah. Yet Tehran could breathe a sigh of relief after the Cairo speech, because it was crystal clear that President Obama walks softly and carries no stick at all.
Evidence that the Cairo speech has already utterly failed to move Tehran to begin serious negotiations: Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei had this response: “The nations in the region hate the United States from the bottom of their hearts because they have seen violence, military intervention and discrimination…one cannot remove this deep hatred by words, speeches and slogans.”
copyright 2009 Joel Rosenberg
Joel C. Rosenberg is the New York Times best-selling author of THE LAST JIHAD, THE LAST DAYS, THE EZEKIEL OPTION, THE COPPER SCROLL and EPICENTER with more than one million copies in print. He previously served as a senior advisor to several U.S. and Israeli leaders, including Steve Forbes, Rush Limbaugh, former Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Natan Sharansky, and former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He has been interviewed on more than 300 radio and TV shows, including ABC’s “Nightline,” CBN’s 700 Club, CNN Headline News, Fox News Channel, MSNBC, the Michael Reagan Show, the Rush Limbaugh Show and the Sean Hannity Show.. Website