In his much anticipated address to the Muslim world in Cairo on Thursday, US President Barack Obama said he does not recognize the legitimacy of any Israeli presence on the biblical lands of Judea and Samaria, and scolded the Jewish state for security measures he said are unnecessary and counterproductive.
In a speech in which he repeatedly referred to the “Holy Koran” and the many lessons of peace it holds for us, Obama appeared to paint Israel’s reluctance to surrender land for the establishment of a Palestinian Arab state as the sole remaining obstacle to ending the Israeli-Arab conflict.
The audience at Cairo University was silent as Obama began by recalling the Jews’ painful history, deriding anyone who would deny that history and reaffirming the Jewish people’s righteous quest for a homeland. They erupted in applause as he continued by equating that history and that quest to the suffering of the Palestinian Arabs and their own efforts to forge an independent state.
His listeners were left to believe that Obama views the Palestinian plight in the same light as the Nazi Holocaust, and sees little difference between the Nazi death camps and the Palestinian “refugee” camps. That the Palestinians’ situation has been brought on largely by their own violence, while the Jews did nothing to provoke the Nazis but be Jews, was conveniently glossed over.
Obama insisted that for peace to reign over the region, Israel must halt all “settlement activity” in the areas it has greatest historical claim to. He said America and the rest of the world will never recognize the legitimacy of those settlements.
The president scoffed at Israeli security measures imposed on those areas that have been surrendered to the Palestinians, saying they were only producing the opposite result. He was adamant that imposing a blockade on Gaza and manning checkpoints in Judea and Samaria cannot bring security to Israelis. He failed to address the rampant Palestinian terrorism that plagued Israeli cities before those measures were put in place.
Obama did take issue with Palestinian violence in general, but attempted to downplay it by saying very few participate in it or support those groups that do. His remarks ignored years of public opinion polls showing that the vast majority of Palestinians support violence against Israel and the most recent Palestinian legislative election in which Hamas won a landslide victory. A recent survey revealed Hamas will score an even bigger victory when Palestinians again go to the polls later this year.
Israelis were anxious prior to the speech, fearful that Obama was going to sacrifice Israel to bring reconciliation between America and the Muslim world. After watching the speech live on television, many were left feeling that is precisely what happened.