A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Further Thoughts on the Speech, and a Roundup

Early this morning after Obama's speech, I posted my first impressions while the speech was fresh in my mind, and after a day's reflection, I think the first impressions still stand up pretty well. I wouldn't change any of them, but I'd add a couple of points.
  • As Ambassador David Mack noted in a comment on my earlier post and as others have noted as well, the criticism of Israeli settlements is the strongest we've heard in a very long time perhaps since the Carter Administration or early Bush 41. It's certainly a far cry from the past 8 years.
  • Obama skillfully shifted from a discussion of the Holocaust (and a dismissal of Holocaust denial) in affirming Israel's right to a state to his assertion in turn that Palestinians must have a state. It was an interesting rhetorical turn, one sometimes used by moderate Palestinians or Israeli doves, but not usually heard from American Presidents.
Besides the Haaretz article, Juan Cole has his take here; the first take from Marc Lynch is here; Al-Jazeera English has some Arab world reactions.

For a rather different perspective and some caveats about certain comments, Rob Satloff offers an early take from the perspective of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

Most of the Egyptian and Arab dailies don't have analysis up yet as I write this, but Al-Masry Al-Youm reported today, before the speech, that a Muslim Brotherhood delegation met secretly with Obama some two months ago. The English translation, rather roughly translated, is here; the Arabic is here. The paper says the Brotherhood denies the meeting.

More links as they appear. This will spur debate for some time, I'm sure.

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