While I was waiting to be interviewed on sister Janice Graham’s program, Our Common Ground this past Thursday, I became aware of an important speech that was being delivered half-way around the world. On June 4th, 2009 President Obama addressed Cairo University, in a self-proclaimed attempt to:
Seek a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world, one based on mutual interest and mutual respect.
A lot went down in the 50-minute speech, including Obama taking some responsibility for the negative effects that American imperialism has had on the Muslim world. He discussed the extent to which America played a pivotal role in “denying rights and opportunities” to Muslims during the Cold War and even came clean about how “the United States played a role in the overthrow of a democratically elected Iranian government.” Last time I checked, these weren’t things the US was taking responsibility for. President Obama went on to routinely condemn al Quadea and the 9/11 attackers, but then threw a curve ball by subtly challenging the Israeli occupation of Palestine. Not only did he call upon Israel to acknowledge Palestine’s “right to exist,” but he also likened the plight of Palestinians to that of African and African American victims of Jim Crow and South African Apartheid. Check this quote out:
…Israel must also live up to its obligation to ensure that Palestinians can live and work and develop their society. Just as it devastates Palestinian families, the continuing humanitarian crisis in Gaza does not serve Israel’s security; neither does the continuing lack of opportunity in the West Bank. Progress in the daily lives of the Palestinian people must be a critical part of a road to peace, and Israel must take concrete steps to enable such progress.
This is a far cry from Senator Obama who, exactly a year before his Cairo speech on June 4, 2008, firmly told the American Israel Public Affairs Committee he would “never force Israel to the negotiating table” or to make “concessions” (read more here). An interesting political move for the young administration.
Click here to watch the entire address on youtube. Or you can catch all the juicy highlights on Democracy Now!