Tag Archives: Obama speech

Wither Israel– Peace Or Isolation?

There are moments in the history of nations in which choices must be made regarding the future existence of the country. The state of Israel has endured fifty years of isolation and hatred and survived. But, there is always a price paid when living in a constant state of fear and aloneness. President Barack Obama has openly challenged Israel to confront the need for peace and be willing to pay the price that goes along with ending isolation. He discussed mistakes on the part of the United States, he discussed mistakes on the part of Palestinians and Muslims, and he discussed mistakes on the part of Israel. At no point did he single out Israel as the only one responsible for the current impasse in peace.

Jewish voters are divided on how to respond to the Obama challenge. A newspaper poll that asked: “Should Israel accept Obama’s demands or reject them and risk sanctions?” About 40% of respondents said their nation should reject the demands of Obama while 56% said it was necessary to deal with reality. The latter figure might include Israeli Arabs.

The time is now, not tomorrow for Israel.

World Reaction To Obama Speech

The Turkish newspaper, Hurriyet, published comments from people concerning reactions to the Obama speech. We print some excerpts of those comments.

Abdullah Gul, President of Turkey: “I find his position on regional peace very appropriate… With the message and assurances he gave today, the US president showed that he is a constructive leader with whom Muslim countries can engage in partnership for peace and stability in the region.”

Rabil Abu Rdainah of Palestinian Government: “His call for stopping settlement and for the establishment of a Palestinian state and his reference to the suffering of Palestinians… is a clear message to Israel that a just peace is build on the foundations of a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital.”

Fawzi Barhum, speaking for Hamas: “It had many contradictions, al the while reflecting tangible change.”

Ali Al-Dabbagh, speaking for Iraq government: “The speech was historic and important and reflects a positive direction for the new administration and it is a new start…. The government of Iraq is comfortable with the clarity of the president in respecting commitments to Iraq and the timetable for withdrawal stipulated in the security pact.”

Mohamed Habib, of Muslim Brotherhood: “It’s a public relations address more than anything else.”

There apparent is a wide divergence among Muslims in the world how they interpret the Obama speech.

Obama Speech Reactions From Hindustan Times

Following are comments from the Indian Hindustan Times pertaining to the Obama speech.

“US President Barack Obama won praise from many Muslim leaders on Thursday for a speech he crafted to repair Ameerica’s tainted image in the Islamic world, but more sceptical reactions showed he still had a mountain to climb.”

Rana Achmawi, editor of Egypt’s Al-Ahram Hebdo: “America for the first time is adopting a very wise strategy in acknowledging the other and that was clear in every word chosen by President Obama.”

Khalid al-Dakhil, Saudi analyst: Obama message was one of “reconciliation and new beginnings,” kbut “whether it will be successful in bridging the gap, that will take time.”

Hassan Fadlallah, of Hezbollah: “The Islamic world does not need moral or political sermons. It needs a fundamental change in American policy beginning with a halt to complete support for Israeli aggression against the region, especially against Lebanese and Palestinians, an American withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan, and a stop to its interference in the affairs of Islamic countries.”

Miriam Gal-el, a Jewish settler on West Bank: “he’s a great threat to Israel’s security because he doesn’t understand the meaning of Israel to Jews.”

Sheikh Abdulahi Sheikh Abu Yusuf, of Somalia: “Obma’s speech is good and Islam means peace. Obama, let’s follow the verses you quoted from the Koran.”

“At Least He’s Better Than Bush!”

Customers at the Delice shop in Gaza watched the speech by President Barack Obama in quiet silence, nodding at certain points when he gave a direct message to Israel to lift the siege on Palestinians and work for a two state solution. Ehab Qishawi, diplomat in Gaza, said “he touched our emotions, especially when he quoted from the Qur’an. His words were good, but up to now we haven’t seen any policies on the ground. That’s what we are waiting for.” Other customers repeated the refrain about words being spoken, but no evidence of any changes in their lives or the lifting of the blockade on Gaza. There is a growing sense that too much time has been spent in meetings which conclude with statements, but life goes on as before and there is no change in the conditions people confront on a daily basis.

Asad Abu Shark, a professor at Al-Azhar University, summed up the general feeling in the Middle East. “Any American gesture in the right direction is welcome. If the Americans want an even-handed policy, we welcome that, but actions speak louder than words.”

The next step is up to Israel. Can it meet the challenge of taking a risk for peace?

Obama Wows The Nation– But Not Republicans

At one point in his speech, President Barack Obama noted that Congress has voted to provide medical insurance for children, a bill most Republicans opposed. Republican congressmen sat quietly until finally they realized they were not applauding providing health care to children and slowly they rose to applaud. The incident was symbolic of what will destroy the Republican party. Governor Bobby Jindal followed the Obama speech with another recital that all problems could be solved by cutting taxes because it would allow people to make their own decisions about the future. Obama tried desperately to explain that if you don’t have a job, you don’t have an income and therefore you will not get a tax cut. Obama pointed a direction that at times of crisis the government must act boldly, but to Republicans the only bold thing it could do is to cut taxes. Ironically, Jindal cited working our way through the Great Depression. I assume Mr. Jindal does not understand that America got out of the Depression by bold government action.

President Obama made clear there are no quick and easy solutions. He emphasized that health care, education and a collapsed credit system must be dealt with boldly. Republican congressional reaction was silence and anger. Tax cuts will not compel banks to extend credit, tax cuts will not get people working, tax cuts will not solve the credit crisis. Bobby Jindal in his response claimed the people of New Orleans had solved their problems without the need of federal help. The Federal government spent $175 billion to help rebuild New Orleans, one can only assume Governor Jindal is either ignorant of that sum or doesn’t consider $175 billion to be of much help. But, he reflects the problem of the Republican party, they have yet to offer a single concrete solution except for the enduring “tax cut” solution.

It was encouraging to hear the president offer creation of a modern version of the GI Bill of Rights which apparently even Republicans endorse. We need to deal with high tuition rates that make college difficult for the middle class as well as poor people. The reality is there is no simple solution, but the Obama speech is an excellent beginning.

Chinese Version Of Obama Speech

The speech given by President Barack Obama at his inauguration was not the speech that was heard or read in most of China. Several statements made by the president were omitted from the Chinese translation because censors apparently were under instructions from high level officials to offer their nation the speech Chinese leaders wish had been given. At one point in the speech, Obama said: “recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks but with sturdy alliances and enduring convictions.” Although the speech was being televised live, the translator cut from the speech at the mention of “communism” in order to make certain no Chinese listener picked up on the reference. At another place Obama made reference to “silencing of dissent” which for some reason was interpreted by Chinese officials as a reference to their nation and out went that remark.

The China Daily which is geared toward a foreign audience did report the actual speech and many Chinese on the Internet were able to gain entry to the speech given instead of the speech not given. In the end, the power of the Internet and MySpace will triumph over these crude efforts to stifle the truth.

US Politics Embroil German Politicians

SEnator Barack Obama’s attempt to give a speech at the historic Brandenburg Gate has been vetoed by German Chancellor Merkel. Unconfirmed reports indicate a member of George Bush’s staff made known to German diplomats the president’s anger toward their nation allowing a Democratic presidential candidate to give a speech at the Brandenburg Gate. Chancellor Merkel is now insisting to allow such an event to occur would be tantamount to Germany becoming involved in American politics. There are reports Obama might give a speech at the Tempelhof Airport which played a key role in the Berlin airlift or in Schoneberg town hall where President Kennedy gave his famous, “Ich bin ein Berliner” speech.

There are unconfirmed reports Germany is willing to allow Senator Obama use of the landing deck of one of its aircraft carriers which will have prominently displayed a huge banner proclaiming, “Mission Accomplished” the Republicans are beaten. The entire episode is merely a storm in a teacup which will have absolutely no bearing on the upcoming presidential election.

Clinton’s Low Road Politics Leads To Low Poll Results

The Clintons have regarded themselves as survivors in the rough world of politics. Certainly, never before in American history have a husband and wife been so tightly connected in the political arena. They have endured slanders and unfair accusations and still were able to gain electoral victories. Perhaps, the long term impact of brawling and fighting with any weapon at one’s command is to develop an attitude that victory is the only goal, not how it is accomplished. Senator Hillary Clinton’s remarks attacking Barack Obama over his membership in the church of Pastor Wright were nasty and vicious since the central issue of the Obama speech was about racism. Results from an NBC-WSJ poll indicate the American people were not impressed by how Senator Clinton is handling the campaign. Her positive ranking fell to an all time low of 37%.

Senator Obama apparently was only slightly damaged by the speech. Among those polled, 32% said he “sufficiently addressed the issue,” while 26% said he had to offer more and 31% did not see or hear about the speech. Of those who actually saw or read the speech, 47% said he did a good job and 37% wanted more from him. When asked which candidate could best unite the nation, 60% said Obama, 58% said McCain, and 46% said Clinton.

The real issue facing both Clinton and Obama is how much damage the campaign has done to their core supporters willingness to vote for the other candidate. We won’t know that answer until November.