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President Obama @ Cairo

The parsing has begun. The President's opponents and his supporters are ripping apart his words and finding fault. I heard his speech, and I am impressed with his words, especially considering that the President was walking on eggshells.

Ever since election day, the knee-jerk opposition one liner has been: "No." They call the President deluded, naive and anti-Israel, and gleefully shout "AHA! We KNEW he was a secret Muslim" (the absolute racism and bigotry of comments like these cannot go unnoticed) because he can speak about the Koran with some intelligence. Well, you know something? I want a President who is familiar with the holy scriptures of one of the world's major religions. The knee-jerk opponents condemn and belittle his speaking at Cairo University because Egypt is not a bastion of democracy. Absolutely true, and Egypt is one of our allies, and enjoys a relatively decent relationship with Israel. Israelis and Egyptians move peacefully in and out of each others' countries.

Some Jews are miffed that President Obama referred to the Shoa as Israel's raison d'etre ... as though Jewish suffering were the only reason for its existance. But when you're dealing with surrounding nations whose anti-Semitic, Holocaust denial is second to none, the fact of the Shoa is one of the lessons that must be hammered in, and I give President Obama credit for speaking truth in the face of frustrating ignorance.

There are complaints that he didn't outright place partial responsibility for 60+ years of Palestinian suffering on the outlying Arab countries - indeed on Palestinian leadership - who have used the Palestinians as cannon and political fodder - truly there has been no people who have been so shamefully abused by "their own" than the Palestinians.

And some are finding fault in both his muting his support for a united Jerusalem and for not condemning Israel enough.

I heard plenty of condemnation for Islamofascist terrorism and the hope that moderate Muslims will allow their voices to be heard. I heard plenty of "everyone's got some responsibility here."

[Speaking of the settlements, President Obama said the following in a speech on Monday: "Part of being a good friend is being honest." And honesty is that while there is NO moral relativity between Hamas' violence and Israel's expanding its settlements, Israel's continuing to expand the settlements is wrong minded and foolish. Put simply and personally, if I were having a land boundary problem with my neighbor, and I kept insisting on building my fence farther and farther into my neighbor's yard, tensions would only rise, the situation becomes exacerbated and aggravated, and eventually someone does something rash and foolish. It does not in any way condone my neighbor's choice to burn down my house, but as I told my children, "just because someone behaves like a jerk doesn't give you the right to behave like a jerk, too."]

And oh yes, he called it "Palestine," as though it already existed. Well, speaking of a two-state "solution," the reality is that if Israel stays the way it is - with a massive and ever growing Arab population in its midst - Israel as a *Jewish* state will find itself voted and populated out of existance because it's a numbers game, and the numbers are not stacked in Israel's favor. Forget world opinion (because the world will condemn Israel for any reason and doesn't need an excuse); for her own moral value, Israel cannot find herself in this untenable position.

And the sa
ne voices in the Israeli government recognize this. As Ha-aretz put it, "The ministerial legislative committee rejected on Sunday a bill stating that those who wish to retain Israeli citizenship would have to declare their loyalty to Israel as a Jewish state."

Here's how I see the situation: the status quo is not working. Something needs to change. America cannot afford to be the worlds' enemy, and the world has to get used to the idea of working with us. While there are people who praise the former administration's policies, pointing to the lack of international terrorism on our shores, I'm not convinced that we have done ourselves or the world *or Israel* any good. What's the expression: "if we keep on doing what we've always done, we'll always get what we always got?" So let do something else instead.


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