Saturday, September 24, 2011

Who is the Real Obama?

Herb Keinon wrote an excellent article about Obama's latest speech. He makes a number of points that I really identify with. Here are some highlights from the article:
It took some 34 months, but on Wednesday at the UN Israel finally heard the speech it wanted to hear from US President Barack Obama.

Gone were so many elements of previous Obama speeches on the Middle East that rankled so many Israelis, and left a taste in many people's mouths that here was a president who simply did not get us; who did not understand our history, our daily reality, or our fears.

Gone was any reference to the settlements. Not in this speech were his words from Cairo in June 2009 that did so much to knock the diplomatic process off kilter: “The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements.

This construction violates previous agreements and undermines efforts to achieve peace. It is time for these settlements to stop.”

Gone were veiled comparisons between the Palestinian struggle and the US civil rights movement, as was done in his Cairo speech when, during his discussion of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Obama said, “For centuries, black people in America suffered the lash of the whip as slaves and the humiliation of segregation. But it was not violence that won full and equal rights. It was a peaceful and determined insistence upon the ideals at the center of America’s founding.”

Gone too were infuriating hints that the Jewish people’s link to Israel was the result of its tragic history, not because Israel is the cradle of the Jewish people.

Gone too was the striving after perfect balance, talking about the Holocaust in one breath, and then saying in the very next, “On the other hand, it is also undeniable that the Palestinian people – Muslims and Christians – have suffered in pursuit of a homeland.” No, this was a speech of an entirely different tone and tenor.
There is a lot more over there at jpost. So what caused this radical change from Obama's infamous Cairo speech? Towards the end Keinon writes:
Cynics will argue that Obama doesn’t mean it, that he is just mouthing the words – pandering to the Jews, worried about reelection, recalibrating his message after a Democrat was roundly defeated by a Republican in a heavily Jewish congressional district that the Republicans have not represented in nearly 90 years.

No one can read into his heart, but the words – at this time, at that forum, in the matter in which they were expressed – do matter.
For sure. Only Obama and perhaps the people close to him know if his change of tone is a result of political expediency or inner conviction. I do not see myself as a cynic, however, my gut feeling is that the real Obama is the one we saw and heard at the Cairo speech. The spectre of seeing a Democrat get a damn good whacking in New York’s ninth congressional district probably played a role in the change in rhetoric. Of course, there are those that feel differently:
But yesterday, Koch seemed overjoyed to be back in the Democratic fold, thanks to Obama’s unflinchingly strong UN speech in support of Israel.

“I told the president the speech was magnificent,” said Koch, who met Obama at a White House-sponsored UN reception at the New York Public Library Wednesday night.

Koch, who had even threatened to campaign against the president, was invited to the reception by the White House.

“The president is on the right track! It was wonderful,” Koch said. Last month, I would not approve. This week, I’m ecstatic!”

In his UN speech, Obama said, “America’s commitment to Israel’s security is unshakable. Our friendship with Israel is deep and enduring. And so we believe that any lasting peace must acknowledge the very real security concerns that Israel faces every single day.”

As for his very public recent spat with Obama, Koch said, “I’m not looking back. I’m looking forward.

“I have no regrets in saying, ‘Thank you, Mr. President, for standing up magnificently for Israel.’ ”

Koch now says it’s “very possible that I will be campaigning for President Obama’s re-election.” He stumped for Obama in Florida in 2008.
If the election results in New York’s ninth congressional district are what caused Obama's rhetorical about-face, "Come, behold the works of the LORD, who hath made desolations in the earth"(Psalms 46:9)! This all started with good old Anthony Weiner! Who thought that in the end, the Weiner scandal would bring the Obama administration closer to Israel?

1 comment:

Chana said...

"Please sir, may I have another?"

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