Analysis: what the Obama speech means

US analysts say President Obama's Cairo speech shows he stands by Israel, but disappoints on the subject of Iran.

Jennifer Laszlo Mizrachi, founder of the Israel Project organisation, said: "Obama’s address comes at a time when Americans have clearly stated that they stand with Israel by a seven-to-one margin"

She noted: "A day before his visit to Buchenwald, one of Nazi Germany’s largest concentration camps, President Obama emphasized the importance of recognizing and remembering the Holocaust and condemned those who refuse to recognise that: “Six million Jews were killed – more than the entire Jewish population of Israel today. Denying that fact is baseless, ignorant, and hateful.

“Threatening Israel with destruction – or repeating vile stereotypes about Jews – is deeply wrong, and only serves to evoke in the minds of Israelis this most painful of memories while preventing the peace that the people of this region deserve.”

Mr Obama, reiterating the importance of US-Israel relations, also said: “America’s strong bonds with Israel are well known. This bond is unbreakable. It is based upon cultural and historical ties, and the recognition that the aspiration for a Jewish homeland is rooted in a tragic history that cannot be denied.”

Ms Mizrahi commented: “President Obama’s speech was historic in its bold outreach to Muslims and in its dramatic move for peace. There is a lot in the speech for Americans and Muslims to celebrate.”

A number of points, however, caused concern about Israel’s security. Ms Mizrahi said: “While we knew Israelis would feel pressured about implementing a two-state solution and stopping settlements, I am very concerned about President Obama’s comments that Iran has a right to nuclear materials for energy given the dangerous fact that some of those materials could get into the hands of terrorists including Iran’s proxies, Hizbollah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad.”

She added: “President Obama’s speech did not convey a sense of urgency on stopping Iran from getting nuclear weapons – although it is clear he does share the goal of preventing a weaponized nuclear Iran. We can’t forget that North Korea’s program started as an energy program and now they are actively testing nuclear weapons in defiance of the United States. We cannot afford for this to happen with Iran, the world’s largest state sponsor of terror.”

She also believed that President Obama’s speech also denied basic facts about key security issues and omitted important aspects of today’s realities, including, she said:
• “The fact that until peace is real, President Obama’s goal of a completely nuclear-free world is not consistent with Israel’s need to at least have the impression that it might have nuclear weapons for defensive purposes. We know that deterrence saves a lot of lives.

• “The fact that President Obama did not mention that Israel has said that they don’t want to govern Palestinians and do want to create a better life for the Palestinian people within the context of their own security needs.

• “The fact that President Obama spoke rightly of the suffering of Palestinian refugees without, however, remembering that approximately the same number of Jewish refugees were pushed out of Arab countries.

• “The fact that President Obama didn’t point out that Jewish refugees have gone, and should continue to go, to Israel whereas Palestinians refugees should find their homes in a Palestinian homeland.”

She said President Obama should have mentioned that not only does Iran-backed Hamas control all of Gaza, Hamas’s own charter calls for killing Jews: “The time will not come until Muslims will fight the Jews (and kill them); until the Jews hide behind rocks and trees, which will cry: O Muslim! There is a Jew hiding behind me, come on and kill him!” [6]

It also states: “The indoctrination campaign must involve ulama, educators, teachers and information and media experts, as well as all intellectuals, especially the young people and the sheikhs of Islamic movements. It is [also] necessary to introduce essential changes in the curricula, in order to eliminate the influences of the intellectual invasion which were inflicted upon them by the Orientalists and the missionaries.”

    Last updated: 9:07am, June 5 2009