If headlines and reaction of news organizations and at least one terror group is any indication of who feels the most slighted by Obama’s trip and speech today, then we might conclude that Israelis were the ones left somewhat disillusioned.
Planted boldly atop the Jerusalem Post’s site reads, “It’s time for these settlements to stop.” Instead, Haaretz Daily News, focused its headlines on the positive reaction from Israeli politicians. Underneath its “Obama: I’ll personally pursue a two state solution,” however, the writer begins by noting that Washington views the west bank settlements as “illegal.”
The Palestinian Authority and Hamas offered praise, both sensing a changing policy and a new beginning.
The Arab press was mixed. One Egyptian editor refused an invitation to attend the speech explaining (from al-Arabiya):
“If I went to the speech it would mean that the problem was just with (Obama’s predecessor) George W. Bush, but the problem is with U.S. policies in the world and in the Muslim world which haven’t yet changed.”
“We have seen a vast public relations campaign from Obama but we haven’t seen any radical differences, not on an Iraq withdrawal or on Afghanistan, or the war in (Pakistan’s) Swat. He has even gone backwards on promising to close Guantanamo.”
So attempts to rid the Swat valley of Taliban running around shooting, beating and blowing up innocents are unjustified? If this editor of the independent al-Doustur newspaper, Ibrahim Eissa, views ridding the swat valley of primitive bearded thugs isn’t a good thing, then I’m not sure how Obama’s speech could have changed his mind. Perhaps if he’d announced his intention to convert to Islam and join the Muslim Brotherhood, he might have stood a chance.
More response from the region as reported by al-Arabiya:
The Jordan Times said Obama would have to exert himself as he “attempts to clean up the mess his predecessor created in the Arab and Muslim worlds.
“Muslims and Arabs would like to hear much from Obama, starting with Palestine, Iraq and the U.S. military presence in the Gulf.
“While foreign policy is crucial, a sincere show of respect and attempt to rebuild trust are more important.”
Saudi newspaper al-Ryadh said Obama’s decision to address the Muslim world and “in visiting the two most important Arab capitals, is breaking with former American presidents and wants to attack the most important front of the challenges (Western misunderstandings with Muslims.”)
UAE newspaper Akhbar al-Saa referred to “a new era in relations between the United States and the Muslim world” with Obama’s move into the White House.
But Dubai’s al-Bayan stressed that “the region wants to hear from Obama’s mouth that he is conscious of the imbalance in relations (between America) and the Muslim world and that he wants to remedy it.”
In other words, bend over Mr. President. Like all the Presidents who’ve come before you, it’s never going to be enough. As’salaamu alaykums, a smoother than smooth personality and a super-prompter won’t garner applause from those who eschew introspection in favor of blaming Jews and westerners.