Obama's Speech To Muslim World Is 'Groundbreaking' But Misses Opportunities On The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
New York, NY, June 4, 2009 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today reacted to President Barack Obama's speech to the Arab world in Cairo, calling it "groundbreaking and honest" in speaking to the Muslim people. However, the League said the President missed an opportunity to put into historical context the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, and expressed concern about how his message ultimately would be received across the Muslim world.
Glen S. Lewy, ADL National Chair, and Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director issued the following statement:
President Obama's speech to the Muslim world in Cairo was groundbreaking and honest, touching on many important issues -- human rights, education, democracy, the need to deal with Islamic extremists -- with candor. He issued a clarion call for recalibrating America's relationship with the Muslim world through constructive outreach and dialogue. Speaking directly to the Muslim people, he broached issues that have never really been addressed to the Arab world before now. We share the President's genuine quest for respect, tolerance and peace.
Regarding the Israelis and Palestinians, it would have been important to hear the President put the conflict into its proper historical perspective -- six Arab nations attacked Israel from day one and the occupation of Palestinian land was a product of Israel's wars of self-defense. While strongly reiterating the importance of America's relationship with the State of Israel and articulating Israel's right to exist, President Obama missed the opportunity to address the misperceptions in the Arab world and to make clear that the Palestinians would have had a state had they accepted the United Nations resolution in 1948.
While he made strong statements against anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial, it should have been made clear that Israel's right to statehood is not a result of anti-Semitism and the Holocaust. We are disappointed that the President found the need to balance the suffering of the Jewish people in a genocide to the suffering of the Palestinian people resulting from Arab wars.
We are willing to give the President's approach a chance to work and we are waiting to hear a response from the moderate Arab states. It will be interesting to see how the Muslim world reacts to the speech.
The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world's leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.