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Comments on Barack Obama's Cairo Speech of June 4, 2009

2 minutes, 27 seconds video showing aspects of the Zionist Israeli occupation of Palestine:

1. President Barack Obama's Speech in Cairo, Egypt

By Dr. James Zogby

President of Arab American Institute


In appearances on ABC, NBC Evening News, CNN, Fox News, and BBC World News, and other outlets, Dr. Zogby  joined the sentiment of political leaders around the world who hailed the President's speech as a  positive step for US-Arab relations.

Among the major contributions made by this speech, three stand out (the bolded emphasis is ours):

1. The President of the United States made his aspirations for a lasting, peaceful resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict crystal clear:

"But if we see this conflict only from one side or the other, then we will be blind to the truth: the only resolution is for the aspirations of both sides to be met through two states, where Israelis and Palestinians each live in peace and security. That is in Israel's interest, Palestine's

interest, America's interest, and the world's interest."

  2. The President also helped make clear the major contributions Islam has made to world civilization:

"As a student of history, I also know civilization's debt to Islam. It was Islam - at places like Al-Azhar University - that carried the light of learning through so many centuries, paving the way for Europe's Renaissance and Enlightenment. It was innovation in Muslim communities that developed the order of algebra; our magnetic compass and tools of navigation; our mastery of pens and printing; our understanding of how disease spreads and how it can be healed. Islamic culture has given us majestic arches and soaring spires; timeless poetry and cherished music; elegant calligraphy and places of peaceful contemplation. And throughout history, Islam has demonstrated through words and deeds the possibilities of religious tolerance and racial equality. I know, too, that Islam has always been a part of America's story. The first nation to recognize my country was Morocco. In signing the Treaty of Tripoli in 1796, our second President John Adams wrote, "The United States has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion or tranquility of Muslims." 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."

  3. The President opened space in our political discourse to speak about Palestinian suffering and aspirations, describing them  in language never before used by political leaders (again, the emphasis in bold is ours): 

"On the other hand, it is also undeniable that the Palestinian people - Muslims and Christians - have suffered in pursuit of a homeland. For more than sixty years they have endured the pain of dislocation. Many wait in refugee camps in the West Bank, Gaza, and neighboring lands for a life of peace and security that they have never been able to lead. They endure the daily humiliations - large and small - that come with occupation. So let there be no doubt: the situation for the Palestinian people is intolerable. America will not turn our backs on the legitimate Palestinian aspiration for dignity, opportunity, and a state of their own."

* * *

Arab Americans can play a key role in the weeks to come, acting as a bridge of understanding between two cultures. Let our voices tell the stories of our ancestors who lived in the Middle East and came to the United States, made this country their home. Let our knowledge of Middle Eastern cultures and traditions, and our love for America, act as a guide towards understanding and peace.

As our President said in his speech at Cairo University on June 4: "There must be a sustained effort to listen to each other; to learn from each other; to respect one another; and to seek common ground."

 * * *

There is so much to do...

AAI will be working hard in the coming months to sustain the tremendous strides made in US-Middle East relations in just these few short months:

We will work with the Department of Justice to ensure that the Administration follows through on Attorney General Holder's promise to "return to robust civil rights defending religious freedoms." We will report on elections in Lebanon-from Lebanon- and foster a dialog that allows democratically elected representatives from both the US and Lebanon to work together to build stronger relation and a peaceful future in the region. We will continue to host meetings among Arab Americans, members of Congress, White House officials, and others, to make sure that the voice of 4 million Arab Americans is heard. ·  On June 15, AAI is co-hosting "United for the Two-State Solution: The Popular Mandate for Israeli-Palestinian Peace", a panel discussion for Hill staffers, with pollsters from J Street, Israel and Palestine on how Israeli, Palestinian, Arab American and Jewish American public opinion supports peace. Watch the AAI website for more information.

Let us know what you are doing to further the cause of a lasting and just peace. 

E-mail us at

2. Barak Hussein Obama’s Speech: Frank and Constructive

By S A Hannan of Bangladesh

The speech of US President  Barak Obama in Cairo was the first of its kind in history.No western leader before him addressed the entire  Muslim world on issues of great relevance to both the West and the Muslim world.In his speech he discussed the contribution of Islam to civilization, the false stereotypes used about Islam and Muslims, the political issues of Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine, the need for new beginning in relatioms between Muslim world and the West .He said “I've come here to Cairo to seek a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world, one based on mutual interest and mutual respect, and one based upon the truth that America and Islam are not exclusive and need not be in competition.  Instead, they overlap, and share common principles -- principles of justice and progress; tolerance and the dignity of all human beings.----- . 

But I am convinced that in order to move forward, we must say openly to each other the things we hold in our hearts and that too often are said only behind closed doors.  There must be a sustained effort to listen to each other; to learn from each other; to respect one another; and to seek common ground.  As the Holy Koran tells us, "Be conscious of God and speak always the truth."  (Applause.)  That is what I will try to do today -- to speak the truth as best I can, humbled by the task before us, and firm in my belief that the interests we share as human beings are far more powerful than the forces that drive us apart.---- I know there are many -- Muslim and non-Muslim -- who question whether we can forge this new beginning.  Some are eager to stoke the flames of division, and to stand in the way of progress.  Some suggest that it isn't worth the effort -- that we are fated to disagree, and civilizations are doomed to clash. Many more are simply skeptical that real change can occur.  There's so much fear, so much mistrust that has built up over the years.  But if we choose to be bound by the past, we will never move forward.  And I want to particularly say this to young people of every faith, in every country -- you, more than anyone, have the ability to reimagine the world, to remake this world.”
We welcome Barak Obama’s initiative from the  great Muslim city of Cairo.The tone of sincerity was apparent and most of us were touched by his speech. There are doubters everywhere who will say that this is only diplomacy and there will not be any change.We do not agree with them.The world can have peace and progress through dialogue, listening to each othe as President Obama has said.This is not to suggest that we agree with everything.It is not necessary.It never happens that we always agree on all points.We particularly feel that the invasion of Afganistan was not necessary..We also agree with his view that Middle East should be kept nuclear weapon free.Though he urged Iran not to go for nuclear weapons and did not mention Israel, it was clear from his words “nuclear free middle east “ that he does not want Israel to have nuclear weapons. In any event we sincerely appreciate his speech and urge him to take steps as he has said.

3. The editor of The Muslim News analyses the Obama Cairo speech

By Ahmed Versi


I must admit President Barack Obama’s speech at Cairo University was a landmark speech. The tone and the language were refreshing. He was respectful and impressive. However, there wasn’t anything new, as most of what he said has been previously mentioned in Turkey in addition to various interviews.

He covered most of the issues that are of concern to Muslims around the world. His rhetoric was measured and balanced but on the political aspect of issues, he failed to convince. Take the example of Palestine and Israel. Obama acknowledged the sufferings of the Palestinians and Israelis. “Around the world, the Jewish people were persecuted for centuries, and anti-Semitism in Europe culminated in an unprecedented Holocaust… [Palestinians] endure the daily humiliations – large and small – that come with occupation,” he said.

But when it came to politics, he, like his predecessor, took the pro-Israeli line. Obama asks the Palestinians to abandon violence but says nothing about the Israeli violence. “It is a sign of neither courage nor power to shoot rockets at sleeping children, or to blow up old women on a bus,” he argues. There was not a word about the greater Israeli bombing of Gaza in December and January when hundreds of civilians, including old women and children were killed.

He says violence to resist occupation does not succeed, so why did America lead military action against Iraq when it occupied Kuwait? Why did they use and are still using violence in Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan to achieve their aims? Israel has been occupying Palestinian land for decades and diplomacy has never worked. Palestinians argue the world doesn’t care and the only solution left for them is resistance.

The US President also spoke on nuclear weapons and chose to pick on Iran, which does not possess, nor is there any evidence that it is pursuing the development of nuclear weapons, just mere suspicions. He remains opposed to Iran being allowed to enrich its own uranium when Japan, Brazil and others are allowed to, as it is a right under the Non-Proliferation Treaty. In contrast, not a single word was uttered about Israel’s existing stockpile of between 100 to 300 nuclear weapons, the only state in the Middle East to have any. It seems when Israel is concerned, Obama, just like his predecessor, has not changed.

For the speech to have its impact, Obama will have to take courage and be fair and balanced on the Palestinian-Israeli issue. On Iraq and Afghanistan, US troops will have to leave; the earlier the better for the region. On Pakistan, use of drones which has killed many civilians, will have to stop.

The goodwill that Obama had when he became the President of the United States of America is slowly eroding. He has to match his actions to his rhetoric to bring about the change that he promised.

Ahmed J Versi, Editor, The Muslim News




4. Islamic World Reacts To Obama's Cairo Speech

U.S. President Barack Obama delivers his speech at Cairo University on June 4.

Written in Prague by Ron Synovitz, and Andy Heil

June 04, 2009
(RFE/RL) --

Initial reactions from the Islamic world to U.S. President Barack Obama's "new beginning" speech at Cairo University were generally but not universally positive, ranging from a broad welcome by government officials and moderate clerics to outright rejection by some Islamist groups like the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.

Nabil Abud Rdainah, a spokesman for Palestinian Authority President Mahmud Abbas, welcomed Obama's speech as "a good start and an important step toward a new American policy" in the Middle East.

He said Obama's call for Israel to stop settlement expansion and for the establishment of a Palestinian state, as well as Obama's references to the suffering of Palestinians, send a "clear message to Israel that a just peace is built on the foundations of a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital."

At Tel Aviv University, the head of the Hartog School of Government, Yossi Shain, suggested that Obama's speech struck a balance on the need to understand both the Israeli and Palestinian perspectives in the Mideast conflict.

Shain said it was essential that Obama told the Arab world about the suffering of the Jews and the history of anti-Semitism, as well as Israel's right to exist. From the Israeli point of view, Shain said, it is essential for Arabs to understand Obama's statement that the United States has an unbreakable bond with Israel -- as well as Obama's call for Hamas and Arabs to end their hatred and senseless violence toward Israelis.

Likewise, Shain said, it was essential for Obama to tell Israel that it must abide by the rule of law and stop the expansion and construction of Jewish settlements on occupied Palestinian land. Shain said it also was essential for Israelis to recognize the suffering of Palestinians.

Wait And See

In Lebanon, Hezbollah party lawmaker Hassan Fadlallah described Obama's remarks as "moral or political sermons" that are not needed in the Islamic world. Fadlallah said what the Muslim world really needs is "a fundamental change in American policy beginning from a halt to complete support for Israeli aggression on the region, especially on the Lebanese and Palestinians, to an American withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan."

Muhammad Habib, deputy leader of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, described Obama's speech as "a public-relations address more than anything else." Habib also said Obama displayed an "unjust perspective" toward the Palestinian issue, "one that does not differ from former President [George W.] Bush and the neoconservatives' perspective."
A man in a Cairo coffee shop reacts as he listens to Obama's speech.
The Gaza Strip's Hamas rulers were more equivocal.

Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhum cautiously welcomed Obama's speech but called for his words to be followed by action.

Barhum said Obama's address "must be judged not on its form, but by the policies that Obama will apply on the ground to respect the freedom of people and their democratic choices and the right of the Palestinian people to its land."

The deputy mufti in Russia's Republic of Tatarstan, Valiulla Yakupov, told RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Service that Obama's clear emphasis on a two-state solution between Palestinians and Israelis, "if implemented...would substantially pacify the overall situation between America and Muslims [and] that would help resolve civilizational problems as well."

Turning Point?

Mustafa Efendi Ceric, the grand mufti of Bosnia-Herzegovina, told RFE/RL's Balkan Service that the U.S. president's speech went beyond his expectations.

Ceric said he thought Obama made compelling points about Islam that many Muslims would rather not hear. But he said Muslims should see Obama's message as a historic opportunity to avoid a "clash of civilizations" that ends as a conflict between the West and Islam.

"I particularly like the fact that this time Obama managed to balance the [U.S.] approach to Israel. He did tell the Jewish people that America would do anything to avoid a Holocaust and that denying the Holocaust is a crime equal to the Holocaust -- he highlighted that, so that all Muslims in the world could clearly understand it," Ceric said. "But at the same time he sent a sharp message to Israel that they have to change their attitude toward Palestinians and they have to stop the practice of building new settlements on the Occupied Territories."

Turkish President Abdullah Gul said Obama's position on Middle East peace was "very appropriate." Gul welcomed the messages and assurances that Obama gave, saying "the U.S. president showed that he is a constructive leader with whom Muslim countries can engage in partnership for peace and stability."

In Iraq, government spokesman Ali Al-Dabbagh called the speech "historic and important," saying it is "a new start" and a positive direction for the new administration in Washington.

But Hazim al-Nuami, an analyst at Baghdad University, said Obama gave nothing new to Iraqis -- only a promise to respect the rights of minorities and work with consensus. "In all ways, Nuaimi said, "[Obama] tries to remove himself from all that happened in Iraq."

Abdullah Attai, a professor at Al-Azhar University in Cairo and an expert on Afghanistan, called Obama's speech a historic turning point.

Attai told RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan that Obama's remarks hit such a resonant note with Muslims around the world that it marks the beginning of the isolation of Al-Qaeda.

Watching South Asian

However, a resident in Afghanistan's southern province of Helmand told Radio Free Afghanistan that there is a great contrast between the words he heard from Obama and the military activity he sees in Afghanistan.
As Obama spoke in Cairo, his envoy, Richard Holbrooke, was seeking more aid for displaced Pakistanis.
"Right now I am in the Nad-e Ali district of Helmand, and the airplanes are flying above us as they bomb us -- so I must ask how Obama's sweet talk and strategy will benefit us. It will only benefit us if he can extinguish this fire [of violence]," the man, Bawari, said. "In my opinion, he should take what he is now is spending on the war in Afghanistan, which harms the people of Afghanistan, his soldiers and people [and] he should spend it all on [pursuing] peace."

A leading Islamic cleric in Tajikistan, former mufti and current legislator Hoji Akbar Turajonzoda, challenged the lofty language of Obama's speech and said "one of the examples of the Obama administration's real attitude to the Muslim world is Pakistan's U.S.-backed operations against Islamists in Swat Valley," where Islamabad has recently launched major military operations to retake swaths of territory from Taliban-linked extremists.

Turajonzoda said "the U.S. might gain a real respect in the Muslim world if it proved that the Muslims are of the same importance for Washington as Israel."

Ilgar Ibrahimoglu, a Baku Shi'ite imam who is also an outspoken activist on religious freedom, told RFE/RL's Azerbaijan Service that he saw promise in Obama's remarks.

"There are words, big gestures, theories," Ibrahimoglu said. "I hope there will be more than words and all these [remarks] will be put into practice, but it is very important that Obama wants to change. Whether it will work or not is another story."

Written in Prague by Ron Synovitz, and Andy Heil with contributions from RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan, Azerbaijani Service, Balkan Service, Tajik Service, and Tatar-Bashkir Service. With additional wire service reporting







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