UNDERNEWS

Undernews is the online report of the Progressive Review, edited by Sam Smith, who has covered Washington during all or part of one quarter of America's presidencies and edited alternative journals since 1964. The Review has been on the web since 1995. See main page for full contents

June 9, 2009

ON PRESIDENTIAL WORDS ABOUT THE MID EAST

John Caruso, Distant Ocean - I decided to read Obama's speech again, but this time with a mind cleared of all prejudice and preconceptions-and as much as it pains me to say so given how hard I've been on him in the past, I have to admit I was impressed to hear an American politician (finally) say some of these things. Let's look at a few excerpts. First, there was the deference for Muslim culture and traditions:

"We have great respect for the commitment that all Muslims make to faith, family, and education. And Americans of many backgrounds seek to learn more about the rich tradition of Islam. . . I have asked young Americans to study the language and customs of the broader Middle East. And for the first time in our nation's history, we have added a Koran to the White House Library.". . .

The flip side of his respect for Islam was the way he used the secular and inclusive "E Pluribus Unum" to characterize the U.S. rather than the more divisive or religious alternatives favored by some other presidents I could mention:

"Our country's citizens come from diverse backgrounds and cultures, which has enabled us to realize the vision embodied in our first national motto: 'E Pluribus Unum,' meaning 'Out of many, one.'"

These are all just platitudes, you might say (and I wouldn't argue with you) -but consider the importance of this respectful approach, given the audience. And in any case, there were plenty of specifics as well, like his commitment to a state of Palestine and his recognition of the suffering of the Palestinians:

"I'm committed to two democratic states -- Israel and Palestine -- living side-by-side in peace and security. I'm committed to a Palestinian state that has territorial integrity and will live peacefully with the Jewish state of Israel. . .

"Israel also has a large stake in the success of a democratic Palestine. Permanent occupation threatens Israel's identity and democracy. A stable, peaceful Palestinian state is necessary to achieve the security that Israel longs for. So I challenge Israel to take concrete steps to support the emergence of a viable, credible Palestinian state. . .

"Israeli settlement activity in occupied territories must stop. And the occupation must end through withdrawal to secure and recognize boundaries consistent with United Nations Resolutions 242 and 338. . . Israel should also show a respect, a respect for and concern about the dignity of the Palestinian people who are and will be their neighbors."

And then there were his thoughtful overtures to the people of Iran and his embrace of multilateralism on a host of global issues. . .

"Let me speak directly to the citizens of Iran: America respects you, and we respect your country. We respect your right to choose your own future and win your own freedom. And our nation hopes one day to be the closest of friends with a free and democratic Iran. . . "

Yes, it was quite a speech. After reading it a second time I think I can almost begin to understand the ecstatic praise so many liberals offered Obama after they heard it (which I admit I first thought was not only embarrassing but dangerously naive). After all, who could fail to respond to such an intelligent, thoughtful, nuanced, articulate, compassionate attempt to begin a genuine dialogue with the rest of the world? . . .

There's just one problem: none of these quotes were actually taken from Barack Obama's speech. Not a single word. They are quotes from an American president, though. No points for guessing which one at this point, but if you need a hint I can tell you that he was in office from January of 2001 through January of 2009. . .

1 Comments:

Anonymous cut off the money to war criminal Israel said...

Talk is cheap; cheap talk is the only thing Obama excels at. I'm sure Netanyahu and the settlers (illegal squatters, murdering provocateurs)) are worried.

June 9, 2009 8:01 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home