OU: Speech is welcome and worrisome


The Orthodox Union lays out five welcome and five worrisome aspects of Obama’s speech on its blog. First, three of the things the group liked:

1. President Obama delivered a powerful rebuttal to Holocaust denial – which is all too common in the Arab and Muslim world. He did so in unequivocal terms and linked it to his visit tomorrow to the Buchenwald concentration camp. (The troubling point associated with this, as noted by Shmuel Rosner, is that the audience sat silent when the President spoke against Holocaust denial.)

2. The President challenged Arab states to not just speak of their interest in the peace process with Israel, but make concrete contributions to that effort. Importantly, because the Arab League often views their initiative as a “take it or leave it” offer, the President stated "that the Arab Peace Initiative was an important beginning, but not the end of their responsibilities."

3. The President denounced "Palestinian violence" in clear terms.

And three it was troubled by:

1. The President alluded to a shared Jerusalem – one that is not physically re-divided, it seems – where "Jerusalem is a secure and lasting home for Jews and Christians and Muslims, and a place for all of the children of Abraham to mingle peacefully together." As we have long, this reality has only been true with Jerusalem under Israeli sovereignty.

2. Despite having insisted that Israel must be able to live in peace and security as a "Jewish state," today the President instead spoke of Israel as "a Jewish homeland." This word change might mean something different.

3. Relatedly, as David Horovitz notes, the President spoke of the "displacement" of Palestinians "brought by Israel’s founding" (while making no mention of the Arab world’s rejection of the Arab entity that would have been simultaneously created alongside us). In so doing, he reinforced the very portrayal of Israel as a modern colonial upstart.

For the entire post, go here.

Recommended from JTA