Obama Speech: The Pundits Erred, but the People Got It Right
Jerusalem's Gresghom Gorenberg was the only writer to grasp the import of the speech.
Suddenly Obama was here to "fix things," while reducing our problems to the size of a footnote. I support Obama, at least in comparison to his war-mongering colleagues. But we don't need his leadership, or anyone else's for that matter.
Today, for instance, marks 42 years since the Six-Day War began. Ever since then, the term “June 4 lines” has referred to the on-the-ground border between Israel and its Arab neighbors on the eve of the war - not the lines marked on maps, but the lines marked by forward military positions. On the Syrian front, for instance, the actual positions lined up with neither the pre-1948 international border between Palestine and Syria, nor with the 1949 armistice agreements. The small distances on the ground make for big problems in peace negotiations.
As of yesterday, however, June 4 means something entirely different. It now refers to the day on which Barack Obama chose to speak in Cairo. “June 4 lines” will henceforth mean the line of thinking that the president laid out for reconciliation between the U.S. and the Muslim world, and along the way, between Israel and the Palestinians.
His message to us was very, very basic Obama: First, I acknowledge your history. Second, it’s time each of you recognize the other side's history, that you stop thinking that somehow by admitting the other side's suffering you’ll erase your own. And now that you’ve acknowledged history, stop holding on to it as if electricity were running through it, as if your hand can’t let go. Move forward. Turn history into history - the text explaining how we got here - and stop treating it as an ever-repeating present.
Gresghom Gorenberg, South Jerusalem
After his Cairo speech, Obama could be elected President in a half dozen countries including Israel and Palestine. The anti-west Hezbollah went down to defeat in Lebanon. Ahmadinejad has fallen 15 points behind his opponent in the Iranian race for President.
Are the Progressives happy that nuclear war may be averted? No, they are angry at Obama for not punishing Republicans for torture. Progressives want to punish the party that rubbed their noses in the dirt for nearly thirty years.
Obama Offers a Way to Peace Is That so Bad?
The Muslims have many eloquent spokespersons to make the case for perpetual war. They don't need Obama to discuss the endless stream of injustices perpetrated by the west and Israel. This attitude simply calls for an endless repetition of a sad history. Obama's speech was a call to forge a new way out of the cycle of war, revenge and more war. He speaks in positive terms unheard in our region for decades. Many of us here applauded him.
Before the speech, Hezbollah was expected to win a comfortable Parliamentary majority in Lebanon. They suffered defeat. Ahmadinejad anticipated a Presidential win in Iran. Now, he is 15 points BEHIND his opponent in the popularity polls. He has the power to steal the election as GWB did, but at least his people have a chance to avoid nuclear destruction.
Most of us in the region prefer peace to war.
Who Favors and Supports Perpetual War?