Obama's Cairo Speech

Obama's Cairo Speech

Postby editor » Sat Jun 06, 2009 8:32 am

Collection of comments following Barrack Obama's speech in Cairo University

Views by Ali Abunimah, Noam Chomsky, Gideon Levy,Robert Fisk, Israel Shamir, Ghassan Michel Rubeiz, John Esposito and Nawal El Saadawi as well as a poem in Arabic by Francois Basili.

Last edited by editor on Tue Jun 09, 2009 7:52 am, edited 4 times in total.
Posts: 83
Joined: Fri Nov 07, 2008 9:26 am

Abunimah: Obama in Cairo: A Bush in sheep's clothing?

Postby editor » Sat Jun 06, 2009 8:51 am

Obama in Cairo: A Bush in sheep's clothing?

Ali Abunimah

Once you strip away the mujamalat -- the courtesies exchanged between guest and host -- the substance of President Obama's speech in Cairo indicates there is likely to be little real change in US policy. It is not necessary to divine Obama's intentions -- he may be utterly sincere and I believe he is. It is his analysis and prescriptions that in most regards maintain flawed American policies intact.

Though he pledged to "speak the truth as best I can," there was much the president left out. He spoke of tension between "America and Islam" -- the former a concrete specific place, the latter a vague construct subsuming peoples, practices, histories and countries more varied than similar.

Labeling America's "other" as a nebulous and all-encompassing "Islam" (even while professing rapprochement and respect) is a way to avoid acknowledging what does in fact unite and mobilize people across many Muslim-majority countries: overwhelming popular opposition to increasingly intrusive and violent American military, political and economic interventions in many of those countries. This opposition -- and the resistance it generates -- has now become for supporters of those interventions, synonymous with "Islam."

It was disappointing that Obama recycled his predecessor's notion that "violent extremism" exists in a vacuum, unrelated to America's (and its proxies') exponentially greater use of violence before and after 11 September 2001. He dwelled on the "enormous trauma" done to the US when almost 3,000 people were killed that day, but spoke not one word about the hundreds of thousands of orphans and widows left in Iraq -- those whom Muntazer al-Zaidi's flying shoe forced Americans to remember only for a few seconds last year. He ignored the dozens of civilians who die each week in the "necessary" war in Afghanistan, or the millions of refugees fleeing the US-invoked escalation in Pakistan.

As President George W. Bush often did, Obama affirmed that it is only a violent minority that besmirches the name of a vast and "peaceful" Muslim majority. But he seemed once again to implicate all Muslims as suspect when he warned, "The sooner the extremists are isolated and unwelcome in Muslim communities, the sooner we will all be safer."

Nowhere were these blindspots more apparent than his statements about Palestine/Israel. He gave his audience a detailed lesson on the Holocaust and explicitly used it as a justification for the creation of Israel. "It is also undeniable," the president said, "that the Palestinian people -- Muslims and Christians -- have suffered in pursuit of a homeland. For more than 60 years they have endured the pain of dislocation."

Suffered in pursuit of a homeland? The pain of dislocation? They already had a homeland. They suffered from being ethnically cleansed and dispossessed of it and prevented from returning on the grounds that they are from the wrong ethno-national group. Why is that still so hard to say?

He lectured Palestinians that "resistance through violence and killing is wrong and does not succeed." He warned them that "It is a sign of neither courage nor power to shoot rockets at sleeping children, or to blow up old women on a bus. That is not how moral authority is claimed; that is how it is surrendered."

Fair enough, but did Obama really imagine that such words would impress an Arab public that watched in horror as Israel slaughtered 1,400 people in Gaza last winter, including hundreds of sleeping, fleeing or terrified children, with American-supplied weapons? Did he think his listeners would not remember that the number of Palestinian and Lebanese civilians targeted and killed by Israel has always far exceeded by orders of magnitude the number of Israelis killed by Arabs precisely because of the American arms he has pledged to continue giving Israel with no accountability? Amnesty International recently confirmed what Palestinians long knew: Israel broke the negotiated ceasefire when it attacked Gaza last 4 November, prompting retaliatory rockets that killed no Israelis until after Israel launched its much bigger attack on Gaza. That he continues to remain silent about what happened in Gaza, and refuses to hold Israel accountable demonstrates anything but a commitment to full truth-telling.

Some people are prepared to give Obama a pass for all this because he is at last talking tough on Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank. In Cairo, he said: "The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements. This construction violates previous agreements and undermines efforts to achieve peace. It is time for these settlements to stop."

These carefully chosen words focus only on continued construction, not on the existence of the settlements themselves; they are entirely compatible with the peace process industry consensus that existing settlements will remain where they are for ever. This raises the question of where Obama thinks he is going. He summarized Palestinians' "legitimate aspirations" as being the establishment of a "state." This has become a convenient slogan to that is supposed to replace for Palestinians their pursuit of rights and justice that the proposed state actually denies. Obama is already on record opposing Palestinian refugees' right to return home, and has never supported the right of Palestinian citizens of Israel to live free from racist and religious incitement, persecution and practices fanned by Israel's highest office holders and written into its laws.

He may have more determination than his predecessor but he remains committed to an unworkable two-state "vision" aimed not at restoring Palestinian rights, but preserving Israel as an enclave of Israeli Jewish privilege. It is a dead end.

There was one sentence in his speech I cheered for and which he should heed: "Given our interdependence, any world order that elevates one nation or group of people over another will inevitably fail."

Co-founder of The Electronic Intifada, Ali Abunimah is author of One Country: A Bold Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse (Metropolitan Books, 2006). This article first appeared on the Guardian's Comment is Free website and is republished with permission.
Last edited by editor on Sat Jun 06, 2009 9:10 am, edited 1 time in total.
Posts: 83
Joined: Fri Nov 07, 2008 9:26 am

Chomsky: The Grim Picture of Obama's Middle East

Postby editor » Sat Jun 06, 2009 8:54 am

The Grim Picture of Obama's Middle East

Noam Chomsky

A CNN headline, reporting Obama's plans for his June 4 Cairo address, reads 'Obama looks to reach the soul of the Muslim world.' Perhaps that captures his intent, but more significant is the content hidden in the rhetorical stance, or more accurately, omitted.

Keeping just to Israel-Palestine -- there was nothing substantive about anything else -- Obama called on Arabs and Israelis not to 'point fingers' at each other or to 'see this conflict only from one side or the other.' There is, however, a third side, that of the United States, which has played a decisive role in sustaining the current conflict. Obama gave no indication that its role should change or even be considered.

Those familiar with the history will rationally conclude, then, that Obama will continue in the path of unilateral U.S. rejectionism.

Obama once again praised the Arab Peace Initiative, saying only that Arabs should see it as 'an important beginning, but not the end of their responsibilities.' How should the Obama administration see it? Obama and his advisers are surely aware that the Initiative reiterates the long-standing international consensus calling for a two-state settlement on the international (pre-June '67) border, perhaps with 'minor and mutual modifications,' to borrow U.S. government usage before it departed sharply from world opinion in the 1970s, vetoing a Security Council resolution backed by the Arab 'confrontation states' (Egypt, Iran, Syria), and tacitly by the PLO, with the same essential content as the Arab Peace Initiative except that the latter goes beyond by calling on Arab states to normalize relations with Israel in the context of this political settlement. Obama has called on the Arab states to proceed with normalization, studiously ignoring, however, the crucial political settlement that is its precondition. The Initiative cannot be a 'beginning' if the U.S. continues to refuse to accept its core principles, even to acknowledge them.

In the background is the Obama administration's goal, enunciated most clearly by Senator John Kerry, chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, to forge an alliance of Israel and the 'moderate' Arab states against Iran. The term 'moderate' has nothing to do with the character of the state, but rather signals its willingness to conform to U.S. demands.

What is Israel to do in return for Arab steps to normalize relations? The strongest position so far enunciated by the Obama administration is that Israel should conform to Phase I of the 2003 Road Map, which states: 'Israel freezes all settlement activity (including natural growth of settlements).' All sides claim to accept the Road Map, overlooking the fact that Israel instantly added 14 reservations that render it inoperable.

Overlooked in the debate over settlements is that even if Israel were to accept Phase I of the Road Map, that would leave in place the entire settlement project that has already been developed, with decisive U.S. support, to ensure that Israel will take over the valuable land within the illegal 'separation wall' (including the primary water supplies of the region) as well as the Jordan Valley, thus imprisoning what is left, which is being broken up into cantons by settlement/infrastructure salients extending far to the East. Unmentioned as well is that Israel is taking over Greater Jerusalem, the site of its major current development programs, displacing many Arabs, so that what remains to Palestinians will be separated from the center of their cultural, economic, and sociopolitical life. Also unmentioned is that all of this is in violation of international law, as conceded by the government of Israel after the 1967 conquest, and reaffirmed by Security Council resolutions and the International Court of Justice. Also unmentioned are Israel's successful operations since 1991 to separate the West Bank from Gaza, since turned into a prison where survival is barely possible, further undermining the hopes for a viable Palestinian state.

It is worth remembering that there has been one break in U.S.-Israeli rejectionism. President Clinton recognized that the terms he had offered at the failed 2000 Camp David meetings were not acceptable to any Palestinians, and in December, proposed his 'parameters,' vague but more forthcoming. He then announced that both sides had accepted the parameters, though both had reservations. Israeli and Palestinian negotiators met in Taba, Egypt to iron out the differences, and made considerable progress. A full resolution could have been reached in a few more days, they announced in their final joint press conference. But Israel called off the negotiations prematurely, and they have not been formally resumed. The single exception indicates that if an American president is willing to tolerate a meaningful diplomatic settlement, it can very likely be reached.

It is also worth remembering that the Bush I administration went a bit beyond words in objecting to illegal Israeli settlement projects, namely, by withholding U.S. economic support for them. In contrast, Obama administration officials stated that such measures are 'not under discussion' and that any pressures on Israel to conform to the Road Map will be 'largely symbolic,' so the New York Times reported (Helene Cooper, June 1).

There is more to say, but it does not relieve the grim picture that Obama has been painting, with a few extra touches in his widely-heralded address to the Muslim World in Cairo on June 4.

Noam Chomsky is Institute Professor (retired) at MIT. He is the author of many books and articles on international affairs and social-political issues, and a long-time participant in activist movements.
Last edited by editor on Sat Jun 06, 2009 9:11 am, edited 1 time in total.
Posts: 83
Joined: Fri Nov 07, 2008 9:26 am

Levy: Obama emerged in Cairo as a true friend of Israel

Postby editor » Sat Jun 06, 2009 9:01 am

Obama emerged in Cairo as a true friend of Israel
By Gideon Levy

Neither Tel Aviv nor Ramallah held their breaths Thursday as the American president gave a speech in Cairo; the traffic in both crowded cities continued normally. Tel Aviv was indifferent, Ramallah sunk in desperation: Both cities have already had their fill of nice, historic speeches.

Nonetheless, no one can ignore the speech given by Barack Obama: The mountain birthed a mountain. Obama remained Obama. Only the Israeli analysts tried to diminish the speech's importance ("not terrible"), to spread fear ("he mentioned the Holocaust and the Nakba in a single breath"), or were insulted on our behalf ("he did not mention our right to the land as promised in the Bible"). All these were redundant and unnecessary. Obama emerged Thursday as a true friend of Israel.

The prime minister ordered the ministers to say nothing, but of course they could not help but invade the studios. Uzi Landau said that a Palestinian state is tantamount to an "Iranian state." Isaac Herzog appeared even more ridiculous when he said that the problem with the settlements is one of "public relations." In essence, both were busy with the same problem: How can we manage to pull the new America's leg as well? Israeli politicians have never before appeared as pathetic, as small as they did Thursday, compared to the bearer of promise in Cairo.

Indeed, there was promise in Cairo, of the dawn of a new age. A U.S. president talking about negotiations with Iran without preconditions or tacit threats, even willing to accept Iran having civilian nuclear capability; a president who talked about Hamas as a legitimate organization that represents part of Palestinian society, but that needs to relinquish violence; who spoke with empathy about Palestinian suffering; who spoke, believe it or not, about security not only for Israelis but also for Palestinians; who said that all the settlements are illegal; who called for nuclear disarmament of the entire region. All are sensational messages, headlines whose significance cannot be exaggerated, even if there are those who desperately tried to argue yesterday that "there was nothing new in his speech."

Not enough? Obama also spoke in Cairo (!) against denying the Holocaust, about the rights of women and Copts, and on the need for democracy tailored to each society's culture.

This is the thinking of a great leader, who walked with wisdom and sensitivity between the Holocaust and the Nakba, between Israelis and Palestinians, between Americans and Arabs, between Christians, Jews and Muslims. How easy it is to imagine his predecessor, George Bush the Terrible, in the same position: a complete opposite.

Our right-wingers were disappointed that he did not approve at least of Gush Etzion, and the peace lovers were disappointed that he did not offer a timetable. But a speech is just that, and the time for carrying things out is still to come.

But why waste words? Israeli news shows still opened Thursday with the Dudu Topaz story; that is what really interests Israelis. Never mind Obama; Israel has its own concerns.
Last edited by editor on Sat Jun 06, 2009 9:12 am, edited 1 time in total.
Posts: 83
Joined: Fri Nov 07, 2008 9:26 am

Robert Fisk: Words that could heal wounds of centuries

Postby editor » Sat Jun 06, 2009 9:07 am

Robert Fisk: Words that could heal wounds of centuries

President Obama reaches out to the Islamic world in a landmark speech

Friday, 5 June 2009

President Obama's speech reached out to the Islamic world

Preacher, historian, economist, moralist, schoolteacher, critic, warrior, imam, emperor. Sometimes you even forgot Barack Obama was the President of the United States of America.

Will his lecture to a carefully chosen audience at Cairo University "re-imagine the world" and heal the wounds of centuries between Muslims and Christians? Will it resolve the Arab-Israeli tragedy after more than 60 years? If words could do the job, perhaps...

It was a clever speech we heard from Obama yesterday, as gentle and as ruthless as any audience could wish for – and we were all his audience. He praised Islam. He loved Islam. He admired Islam. He loved Christianity. And he admired America. Did we know that there were seven million Muslims in America, that there were mosques in every state of the Union, that Morocco was the first nation to recognise the United States and that our duty is to fight against stereotypes of Muslims just as Muslims must fight against stereotypes of America?

But much of the truth was there, albeit softened to avoid hurting feelings in Israel. To deny the facts of the Jewish Holocaust was "baseless, ignorant and hateful", he said, a remark obviously aimed at Iran. And Israel deserved security and "Palestinians must abandon violence..."

The United States demanded a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He told the Israelis there had to be a total end to their colonisation in the West Bank. "The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements."

The Palestinians had suffered without a homeland. "The situation for the Palestinian people is intolerable," Obama said and the US would not turn its back on the "legitimate Palestinian aspiration for a state of their own". Israel had to take "concrete steps" to give the Palestinians progress in their daily lives as part of a road to peace. Israel needed to acknowledge Palestinian suffering and the Palestinian right to exist. Wow. Not for a generation has Israel had to take this kind of criticism from a US President. It sounded like the end of the Zionist dream. Did George Bush ever exist?

Alas, he did. Indeed, at times, the Obama address sounded like the Bush General Repair Company, visiting the Muslim world to sweep up mountains of broken chandeliers and shredded flesh. The President of the United States – and this was awesome – admitted his country's failures, its over-reaction to 9/11, its creation of Guantanamo which, Obama reminded us all again, he is closing down. Not bad, Obama...

We got to Iran. One state trying to acquire nuclear weapons would lead to a "dangerous path" for all of us, especially in the Middle East. We must prevent a nuclear arms race. But Iran as a nation must be treated with dignity. More extraordinarily, Obama reminded us that the US had connived to overthrow the democratically elected Mossadeq government of Iran in the Fifties. It was "hard to overcome decades of distrust".

There was more; democracy, women's rights, the economy, a few good quotes from the Koran ("Whoever kills an innocent, it is as if he has killed all mankind".) Governments must respect "all their people" and their minorities. He mentioned the Christian Copts of Egypt; even the Christian Maronites of Lebanon got a look in.

And when Obama said that some governments, "once in power, are ruthless in suppressing the rights of others", there was a roar of applause from the supposedly obedient audience. No wonder the Egyptian government wanted to select which bits of Obama's speech would be suitable for the Egyptian people. They were clearly very, very unhappy with the police-state regime of Hosni Mubarak. Indeed, Obama did not once mention Mubarak's name.

Over and again, one kept saying to oneself: Obama hasn't mentioned Iraq – and then he did ("a war of choice... our combat brigades will be leaving"). But he hasn't mentioned Afghanistan – and then he did ("we do not want to keep our troops in Afghanistan... we will gladly bring every one of our troops home"). When he started talking about the "coalition of 46 countries" in Afghanistan – a very dodgy statistic – he began to sound like his predecessor. And here, of course, we encountered an inevitable problem. As the Palestinian intellectual Marwan Bishara pointed out yesterday, it is easy to be "dazzled" by presidents. This was a dazzling performance. But if one searched the text, there were things missing.

There was no mention – during or after his kindly excoriation of Iran – of Israel's estimated 264 nuclear warheads. He admonished the Palestinians for their violence – for "shooting rockets at sleeping children or blowing up old women in a bus". But there was no mention of Israel's violence in Gaza, just of the "continuing humanitarian crisis in Gaza". Nor was there a mention of Israel's bombing of civilians in Lebanon, of its repeated invasions of Lebanon (17,500 dead in the 1982 invasion alone). Obama told Muslims not to live in the past, but cut the Israelis out of this. The Holocaust loomed out of his speech and he reminded us that he was going to the site of the Buchenwald concentration camp today.

For a man who is sending thousands more US troops into Afghanistan – a certain disaster-to-come in the eyes of Arabs and Westerners – there was something brazen about all this. When he talked about the debt that all Westerners owed to Islam – the "light of learning" in Andalusia, algebra, the magnetic compass, religious tolerance, it was like a cat being gently stroked before a visit to the vet. And the vet, of course, lectured the Muslims on the dangers of extremism, on "cycles of suspicion and discord" – even if America and Islam shared "common principles" which turned out to be "justice, progress and the dignity of all human beings".

There was one merciful omission: a speech of nearly 6,000 words did not include the lethal word "terror". "Terror" or "terrorism" have become punctuation marks for every Israeli government and became part of the obscene grammar of the Bush era.

An intelligent guy, then, Obama. Not exactly Gettysburg. Not exactly Churchill, but not bad. One could only remember Churchill's observations: "Words are easy and many, while great deeds are difficult and rare."
Posts: 83
Joined: Fri Nov 07, 2008 9:26 am

Shamir: Oscar for Obama

Postby editor » Sat Jun 06, 2009 4:20 pm

Oscar for Obama
By Israel Shamir

Obama’s Cairo speech was a thing of great beauty. It had the best production, best actor, best script we have seen for many years, it deserves the Oscar of Oscars. America’s ruling elites have pulled up their socks and gotten their country the best leader to improve the rundown image. Obama is a next-generation model of a leader, not yet available abroad. He is a great speaker, full of charisma, tall, slim, youthful. He proved: yes, they can. Our friend and former US presidential candidate Cynthia McKinney explained Obama phenomenon: “things don't happen like that in US politics, probably in politics any where in the world, where a veritable unknown ascends to the Senate unopposed and then is a candidate for the White House two years later. It just doesn't happen that way. Unless it is by design.”

Apparently Obama was designed to make peace with the Muslim world. A US president is not an omnipotent ruler: he is rather an actor chosen by the off-scene producer and director to act this important role. He does not write his speeches any more than Leonardo DiCaprio wrote the Romeo monologue. He does not make his politics, either. That is why his words and deeds are important: they represent the ruling elites’ will to change. This change is necessarily slow, as the huge dreadnought America can’t just be turned around on the spot.

At this time of change, of shifting priorities it is notoriously difficult to predict developments for they depend on us as well. The world needs more inward-looking America, but even a less aggressive one would be a step forward. Looking back, American hostility towards the Islamic world flared in 2001, peaked in 2003, had run its course and seems to be over. These years of war against Islam weren’t specially pleasant or profitable for America. Now the moment has come to shift priorities. The Kite Runner, a bestseller by Khaled Hosseini, offered a new scheme of things – the protagonist of the novel is a Muslim by birth and tradition, who hates Muslim clergy, likes whisky, loves America and Israel and hates Russia. The bad guy loves Hitler, is a pedophile and rapist, and yes, he is a Taliban militant. Persecution of an ethnic minority is a local equivalent of Jewish story. This book offers the integration of such non-religious Muslims into the
American narrative.

Well, why not? The US is a political, not ethnic nation, and Muslims can be admitted and they often are. Though non-Americans often imagine American elites consisting of WASPs and Jews, there are people of all sorts, immigrants from all countries. This is a source of power: America can easily find a Russian to speak with Russians, or a Chinese to speak to China. Muslims are doing well in America, some of them are extremely wealthy.

This turn means downgrading for the Israeli Lobby. The Jewish Zionist right-wing has abused American patience for too long. It just so happens that they overestimated their hold on this administration. The removal of Charles Freeman was their last, Pyrrhic victory. The arrival of starry-eyed Netanyahu preaching Amalek was a next step in their undoing. “Amalek” is a code-word for a call to genocide, shorthand for asking Obama to slaughter Iranians down to the last child and the last cat. That was too much even for the patient Obama.

Thus, a dream came true: after a long rule by the Jewish Centre-Right, now the positions of influence have passed into the able hands of the Jewish Left. Do not think that their positions are anti-Israeli. Yes, Israeli and American Jewish right hates Obama; but Israeli left loved the speech: it could have been written by Yossi Sarid or by Uri Avnery. J-Street, a Jewish American leftist lobby organization also loved it.

It should not come as any great surprise. In an interview given to the Jewish newspaper a year ago, Obama mentioned The Yellow Wind by David Grossman as a book that influenced his view. This is a wonderful book, probably the best non-fiction by a Hebrew writer about the state of things, describing the horrors of settler rule in the occupied territories. Grossman is a Zionist Left icon, creator of the left wing of the leftist Meretz party. The divergence of America and Israel, the great and the small Jewish states, is now a fact: Barak Obama and his administration are positioned to the left of centre, while Israel and its supporters in the US are well to the right of centre.

A few years ago, Ariel Sharon, then the Prime Minister of Israel, allegedly said that the Jewish People control America. After the last elections, the new Foreign Minister of Israel, Avigdor Lieberman interpreted this maxim as “Israel controls America”. He was over-optimistic and over-simplistic. Maybe the US Jews occupy many positions of power, maybe they care a lot about the Middle-Eastern Jewish state, but they still have their priorities straight: America is more important, and they do not intend to lose it because of their cousins overseas.

In 2001, I’ve compared the US Jews with the elder sister in Raymond Chandler's Big Sleep, who covers up the crimes of her wild kid sister. Probably you remember it as one of the best American movies of all times, scripted by William Faulkner, directed by Howard Hawks, starring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. As the cover up continues, the young sister comes to believe that she has immunity and keeps on her killing spree. Eventually her crimes endanger the seemingly secure position of the elder sister. It is not a day too early for misguided Lauren to call for Bogart and to rein in the crazed youth , before she will bring the house down on the heads of her blind supporters, I wrote. Eight years later, comes Bogart Obama.

Do not expect that American Jews will weep and run to Israel. The Jewish position in the US remains strong, and Obama reiterated their Zionist-lite narrative: after the Holocaust of six million Jews, (and don’t you ever dare to doubt it!) the long-suffering Jewish people came to the land of their ancestors, and America’s ties with them are “unbreakable”. However, the right-wing Jewish Lobby, or “American Likudniks” as they were called, suffered a defeat. Now we can say that Bernie Madoff’s undoing was not an accident but a direct attack on their ability to influence politics: many right-wing Jewish individuals and organisations have lost their surplus meddling money.

A warning shot across the bow was fired a few days ago, when a survivor of Israeli 1967 attack on the USS Liberty was awarded a Silver Star for valour, as we have reported. The mainstream US media (mainly Jewish-owned and edited) intentionally omitted this news, as Google search of “silver star Halbardier” shows. A careful reader could find it on a US military info site and that was it. The average American reader or TV viewer was deprived of this news, though oh boy, was it newsworthy: after forty two years of denial, the US top brass admitted that its best ally Israel intentionally and knowingly attacked their intelligence ship with torpedoes and strafing aircraft, killing and wounding two thirds of the crew, while president Lyndon B. Johnson covered up the massacre and let it be.

This media silence was as important as the news: it served as a warning that the administration has to act in agreement with media lords; otherwise its deeds will never reach the American people. Despite his blog and informal contacts with hundreds of thousands Americans, Obama has no means to speak effectively to his citizens but via the media. And right-wing media can be cruel enemy, as this piece from NYPost attests.

Many friends of Palestine, including Noam Chomsky, found fault in the Cairo speech. Surely Obama did not go as far as we would like. His supporters are Zionists-lite, not some indifferent gentiles. Still wonderful that he went that far. He promised to remove his troops from Iraq and Afghanistan, to rebuild Afghanistan, to spend some money on development. He confirmed that Iran has the right to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. He called upon Israel to deal with Palestinians justly. Let him survive this speech and continue to push on. Yes, Obama is carefully designed and promoted by the elites, but it does not mean he has no free will. Many kings and leaders were elected thanks to Jewish money or influence, and changed their attitude afterwards. Joseph Stalin became a Soviet leader thanks to Kamenev and Zinoviev, two powerful Bolshevik Jews, but some years later he had them shot, and the Soviet Jewish Lobby was taken a few pegs down. This still can happen with Barak Obama.
Posts: 83
Joined: Fri Nov 07, 2008 9:26 am

Postby editor » Sun Jun 07, 2009 5:51 pm

زيارة الرئيس الأمريكي إلى الشرق الأوسط


فرانسوا باسيلي

أبوه الأسود
وأمه البيضاء
أبوه المسلم
وامه المسيحية
ابوه الافريقي
وأمه الأمريكية
زواجا بين القارات
وبين الأعراق
وبين الأديان
اوباما الإنسان
ابتسم ابراهام لنكولن
وداعب لحيته في ارتياح
عندما وصلته دعوة
لحضور حفل تنصيب
مر على قبر الرجل الذي اغتاله
وقال وهو في طريقه للحفل :
- الآن تضع الحرب الأهلية أوزارها
في طريقه الطويل
مر باراك بالعم توم
وكان جالسا منهكا
يتأرجح على كرسيه
دعاه أن يصحبه
الى البيت ألأبيض
وقال له :
لم تعد بحاجة
الى كوخك
يا عم توم
قال البعض وهم يشاهدونه
يقسم اليمين الدستوري
انه " هوديني " الساحر العظيم
فقد قام بما لم يستطعه
انسان أسود قبله
أن يقف أمام الناس
في وضح النهار
فلا يرى أحد لونه !
شاعر من مصر يقيم في نيويورك
Posts: 83
Joined: Fri Nov 07, 2008 9:26 am

Obama ties Palestinian cause with Israel’s security and Ar

Postby editor » Mon Jun 08, 2009 12:21 pm

Obama ties Palestinian cause with Israel’s security and Arab reform

Ghassan Michel Rubeiz
June 4, 2009

Pam Beach Gardens, Florida

On June 4, in Cairo, President Obama started a promissing dialogue with the Muslim world:
“So let there be no doubt: Islam is a part of America. And I believe that America holds within her the truth that regardless of race, religion, or station in life, all of us share common aspirations -- to live in peace and security; to get an education and to work with dignity; to love our families, our communities, and our God. These things we share. This is the hope of all humanity.”

President Obama reached his Middle East audience with subtle messages. To the Israelis, Obama hinted that if they wanted lasting security they must give Palestinians a state of their own. To the Palestinians, he cautioned that only with peaceful resistance could they achieve liberation. To the Arabs states, he communicated that their primary problem is not Palestine; it is deficits in reforms.

Obama reached his audience with cultural sensitivity. He did not offer new formulas. Instead, he laid out principles. As a guest to the Arab world, he stayed within the zone of comfort of the host.

First on his mind, was the principle of appreciation of Islam. Second, was the urgency of the solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Third, he believes, Arabs should reform politically, if peace between Israel and Palestinians is to last.

The president explained that Americans need to recognize that Islam is a great civilization, that Muslims in the past transmitted art and science to the West and that Muslims respect peace based on justice.

The president explained that the war in Afghanistan was just: to combat violence and extreme ideology. He assumed that Muslims should be on America’s side in fighting the enemies of freedom and peace worldwide.

Mindful of the political implications of a full apology, Obama hinted that the Iraq war could have been avoided: “Unlike Afghanistan, Iraq was a war of choice that provoked strong differences in my country and around the world.” While he defended the dethroning of Saddam Hussein, he implied that America could have avoided the war through diplomacy. The president reminded his audience that he is closing Guantanamo Bay, banning torture and withdrawing all US troops from Iraq by 2012.

On Iran, the president was brief and reconciliatory. While he cautioned against the building of nuclear weapons, he encouraged Tehran to develop atomic energy in compliance with international standards. When he spoke about religious tolerance, he was wise to mention that he considers the Sunni-Shiite rift a problem. Obama indirectly acknowledged that some states (i.e. Israel ) already have developed atomic weapons. It is this undeclared fact that made Obama’s comments on Iran’s defense ambitions vulnerable.

Having set the stage for reconciliation, Obama came to the Arab Israeli conflict with clarity and directness. He first explained that US relations with Israel are close and founded on firm grounds: history, suffering and reciprocity. “This bond is unbreakable”, Obama stated.

Then the president compassionately acknowledged the pain of Palestinian displacement. Next came a surprise: Obama is the first president to compare the struggle of the Palestinians with the struggle of Black Americans. He mentioned the lessons learned in South Africa. He reached out to Hamas by recognizing its appeal to Palestinians. He rightly cautioned against the use of violence in the struggle: “Violence is a dead end”.

The president reiterated his firm opposition to the building of Israeli settlements on Palestinian land and promised to push the peace process for a two-state solution. The following promise received much applause: “And that is why I intend to personally pursue this outcome with all the patience and dedication that the task requires.”

Having given a boost to the Palestinian cause, Obama turned to the Arab states and asked for reform: democracy in governance, the rights of women, religious freedom and economic development. In this part of the speech Obama was very measured. His critics will point out that he was soft in addressing the oppression practiced by Arab regimes. His defense would argue that he is a guest of the Arab world. His mission is to improve relations, not to cross the privilege of hospitality. The Israelis would have liked Obama to connect Arab reform with Israel’s security more forcefully. That would have been difficult in Cairo.

Obama’s visit to Cairo was historic. It lived up to expectations. It opened dialogue, started pressure on Israel and set the stage for possible new partnerships with the Muslim world.
Posts: 83
Joined: Fri Nov 07, 2008 9:26 am

Postby editor » Mon Jun 08, 2009 12:22 pm

A Paradigm to Jump-Start U.S. - Muslim Relations
By John Esposito
Professor of religion, international affairs and Islamic studies

JUNE 5, 2009
In what has the potential to be a transformative historical moment, President Barack Obama called for "a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world; one based upon mutual interest and mutual respect." While acknowledging the ups and downs of Muslim-West relations, periods of co-existence and cooperation as well as conflict and religious wars, he challenged both America and Muslims globally not to fixate on differences but on building a new way forward based on our common humanity, shared values and interests.
Obama's address reveals his awareness of the findings of major polls, like the Gallup World Poll (see Who Speaks for Islam? What a Billion Muslims Really Think) - that the deep differences that divide are about respect for Islam and the value of Muslim lives and about American foreign policy, not religion or a clash of civilizations. Obama demonstrated a desire to address and redress political concerns and grievances in hot spots, ranging from Palestine and Iraq to Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran. He emphasized the need for diplomacy over military responses: his plans to pull out of Iraq and to use temporary military power in Afghanistan in coalition with some forty six countries. Most importantly, Obama promised aid for economic and educational development to assist Pakistanis and Afghans.
Equally important, the president was crystal clear in communicating his respect for Islam and Muslims, "partnership between America and Islam must be based on what Islam is, not what it isn't. And I consider it part of my responsibility as President of the United States to fight against negative stereotypes of Islam wherever they appear." He singled out Muslims past accomplishments as well as Islam's place in America: "Islam has always been a part of America's story.... And since our founding, American Muslims have enriched the United States. They have fought in our wars, served in government, stood for civil rights, started businesses, taught at our Universities, excelled in our sports arenas, won Nobel Prizes, built our tallest building, and lit the Olympic Torch." While the president indicated an awareness of the problems of discrimination that some American Muslims have faced and still face, much more must be done to address the impact of Patriot Act and Secret Evidence on the civil liberties of Muslims and its devastating affect on families.
Obama was equally direct and candid with his Muslim audience, speaking out against crude stereotyping of America as a self-interested empire and addressed multiple issues: religious freedom, Christians in the Arab world, anti-Semitism, women's status, religious extremism, political authoritarianism and human rights. He balanced his critique and prescription with respect and the need for partnership, not unilateral action, in building a new way forward.
On perhaps the most difficult issue, Palestine - Israel, Obama identified the heart of the problem: the equal and competing claims and aspirations of two peoples with very different narratives. He balanced his emphasis on America's unbreakable bond with Israel by recognizing the tragic plight of both Muslim and Christian Palestinian the pain of dislocation from their "homeland" and "occupation" with its daily humiliations. Characterizing the Palestinian situation as intolerable, he declared: "America will not turn our backs on the legitimate Palestinian aspiration for dignity, opportunity, and a state of their own."
But the real challenge will be moving both sides forward. To do this, the U.S. administration will need to acknowledge that not only the Palestinians but also Israelis are guilty of acts of illegitimate violence and terror. Just as there cannot be real peace unless the Palestinians recognize Israel's right to exist and be secure, there cannot be a peaceful and secure Palestine unless the current Israeli government retracts any notion of a "Greater Israel," recognizes U.N. resolutions regarding the return to pre-1967 borders. This means not just freezing but rolling back illegal settlements.
A remarkable and potentially far reaching statement missed my many, the strongest of an American president in many years, is Obama's recognition that Jerusalem belongs to all three Abrahamic faiths: "All of us have a responsibility to work for the day when the mothers of Israelis and Palestinians can see their children grow up without fear; when the Holy Land of three great faiths is the place of peace that God intended it to be; when Jerusalem is a secure and lasting home for Jews and Christians and Muslims."
Like previous American presidents, Obama faces a critical issue of how to work with authoritarian Arab and Muslim regimes while also supporting calls by secular and mainstream Islamist leaders in Egypt and across the Muslim world for greater power sharing. Obama underscored the responsibility of Arab and Muslim rulers and leaders for developing more democratic societies: giving people a say in how they are governed, confidence in the equal administration of justice, to have governments that don't steal from them, and the freedom to live as they choose. He stressed that this is not because they are American ideas but fundamental human rights. How his administration's policies will reconcile support for Muslim autocrats with the democratic aspirations of their populations remains to be seen.
Obama's Cairo address, in what may prove to be an historic event, was a major step forward in changing the course of American-Muslim relations. It is a big a step on a path which, as he acknowledges, will take years and present challenges to multiple and diverse audiences. It spoke first and foremost to Muslim communities but also to all Americans. His message on the need for a new beginning, marked by recognizing not only our differences, past and present, but also our interdependence, shared values and common interests represents a new mindset and paradigm for U.S.-Muslim World relations.
Posts: 83
Joined: Fri Nov 07, 2008 9:26 am

Nawal El Saadawi:Obama speech in Cairo

Postby editor » Tue Jun 09, 2009 7:51 am

Obama speech in Cairo 4 June 2009 :
By Nawal El Saadawi
Obama is different as a person from G W Bush . Obama looks more human , but politics and economic interests have nothing to do with humanity .
We live in one world ruled by the capitalist patriarchal religious system . Power dominates our whole world ( not justice or freedom or peace or ethics or human values ) . Politics under such a system is a game based on how to use beautiful words to cover ugly actions , how to use the power of God to dominate your listeners , how to select verses from holy books to hide double standards and contradictions , how to kill people and rob their land and resources and then apologize to them with tears in your eyes . We call them in our Egyptian - Arabic language : “ Crocodile Tears “
In Cairo ( on Thursday June 4 , 2009 ) Barak Obama spoke to 2500 Egyptian men and women invited by the Egyptian and US governments and allowed to enter the big hall at Cairo University surrounded by 13000 Egyptian and American police men .
We are 80 millions in Egypt , so those 2500 men and women who applauded passionately 30 times during Obama`s 50 minutes speech are not the whole of Egypt . They are only : The Chosen People .
They applauded strongly when he said that Muslim women should wear the veil if they choose to wear it . As if veiling ( or nakedness ) is something to be chosen ! As lf oppression is something to be chosen by the oppressed .
Like saying girls or boys should be circumcised if they choose to be circumcised ( because they do not want to be different from others ) , or like saying the poor people should be poor if they choose to be poor ( because of their laziness or ignorance ) ,
I read during the Gaza Massacre that the Palestinians choose to be killed ( or they kill their children ) so that they appear as victims and gain sympathy of the world .
I was looking at the TV screen , observing how Obama talks with his hands , eyes and lips . His lips and hands look less cruel than GW `s . His color more attractive , not black not white not yellow , a mixture of human blood and multiple races developed into a more sophisticated human being .
Obama is a creative actor on stage , learned his text by heart to sound as if there is no text at all . He is well trained in being spontaneous .
Egyptians , Americans or others , especially those chosen by governments , are not creative enough to understand this type of creativity : how some political leaders acquire what is called Charisma . The Germans passionately applauded Hitler , the Russians loved Stalin , the Americans elected GW more than once . Sadat in Egypt won all elections by not less than 95 % of votes .
The most dangerous political leaders are the most charismatic , they make you sing : Kill Me Softly . You sacrifice your blood for them .
One of the chosen Egyptian men screamed in the hall while Obama was giving his speech : I LOVE YOU ! Obama replied : Thank you .
Obama praised the king of Saudi Arabia in his speech , portraying him as a hero of the dialogue between religions ! The theocratic kingdom breeding extremism is democratic ?
A dictator ally of US can be transformed to a democratic hero . Sadam Hussein and Ben Laden were freedom fighters at one time .
Obama praised Netanyahu saying he is intelligent . He did not describe any Arab ruler as intelligent , including Mubarak sitting next to him .
He did not mention the name of Mubarak in his whole speech . Did he want to distance himself as a person from himself as the American President ?
Did he want to expose or hide his double personality ? . But he is sophisticated and understand s what is called in psychology “ The philosophy of the present moment “How to leave yourself to the moment but not leave the moment to itself .
Obama`s body language looks natural , he jumps the plane stairs with his hands near his chest jumping with his body , like a happy school boy going to meet his girl friend . This is not the American President but Barak Hussein Obama .
I heard his speech through the TV and read it 2 more times to grasp or detect some improvement in the US policy . General human beautiful words selected from the 3 holy books . He sounded like the Pope giving his speech in Jordan some months ago , praising the 3 religions .
He used very well his middle name “ Hussein “ to speak to Muslims but he knows also when to hide it as a deformed organ .
Muslims listening to him applauded passionately when he read verses from the Kuran . They did not notice his mistake in understanding Surat Al Israa . It did not say that the 3 prophets Moses , Christ and Mohammad prayed together Lilat Al Israa . Egyptian Copts applauded when he spoke about minority rights in Egypt . Israel applauded when he confirmed that US A and Israel are tied eternally by culture ( not mutual interests ) and when tears appeared in his voice when he spoke about the Holocaust , 6 millions jews burned in Germany , their eternal sufferings , their right to have a homeland .
He did not say that this homeland should have been in Germany , the country that burned them or in Europe or in the USA or in some other place where there is no people to be killed and robbed of their homes and land by military force . He did not ask Israel to stop its military violence against the Palestinian children . He only asked the Palestinians to stop their violence against Israeli children . He did not mention the number of Palestinians killed and tortured by Israel in the last 60 years till today .
He did not ask Israel to respect previous UN resolutions , he just asked Israel to stop building new settlements . What about old settlements that expelled thousands of Palestinians of their homes ? What about settlements to be build under the so called “ Natural Growth “ ?
He asked Palestinians to forget the past and look forward . Some days ago in his country he asked people to forget the crimes of torture , to forget the past and look forward .
But what is the function of the Law ? if it is not used to investigate and punish criminals who killed or tortured ?
Obama shifted smoothly from ethics to politics and interests as if no contradiction .
He said the USA has no interest in Iraq resources ? He ignored or forgot the Law of Oil forced on Iraqi government ( which submits the oil of Iraq to the monopoly of American companies for 30 years )
He mentioned the danger of Iran owning nuclear power , he did not mention the danger of the nuclear military power of Israel .
The real goal of Obama speech was to mobilize the Muslim countries against Islamic extremists , to open the markets of Islamic countries to American goods under the so called development and partnership , to guarantee Saudi and Gulf oil and other American interests in the so called Middle East .
Egyptian people suffered because of the Obama ` s visit to Cairo . Thousands of students did not go to their schools or universities and delayed their exams . Those sc hools and universities were closed by the government for security reasons during the Obama visit . Mrs Obama stayed in US A and did not accompany her husband to Egypt to be with their 2 daughters during school exams .
Many streets in Cairo were closed by the police and many people could not go to work losing $ 20 million .
The Egyptian government spent $ 500 millions for the security of Obama . 10 000
Police men and hundreds of police cars . Egyptian people were ordered to stay at home and not to open their windows in all areas visited by Obama , including the Pyramid region , Giza , Ain Shams , Helwan , Cairo University , some ministries , Al Kalaa , Sultan Mosque , Kasr Al Kobbaa , and all streets leading to these areas and more .
The normal life in Cairo stopped . Streets were empty , people were prisoners in their homes , no body was allowed to be near Cairo University while Obama was delivering his speech except 13 American men and women were allowed to make a show of demonstration at the university gate , shouting some slogans asking Obama to visit Gaza ,
Those 13 Americans were allowed by the police to demonstrate . They are the opposition or the dissidents in democratic Egypt , while the real Egyptian dissidents are in prison or outside Egypt .
But politics is a game to be played by all parties .
Only 30 minutes after Obama`s plane took off the poor Egyptian workers were in the streets removing the artificial flowers and trees implanted everywhere to welcome the semi god of the world .
Nawal El Saadawi
5 June 2009
Posts: 83
Joined: Fri Nov 07, 2008 9:26 am

Return to Events / أحداث هامة

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest