Sunday, June 07, 2009

Two Obama Speeches: AIPAC vs. Cairo

Alan Fram compares Obama's Cairo speech on Thursday with the speech he gave to AIPAC last year where he made his famous remark about an undivided Jerusalem. Fram notes:
Two high-stakes speeches exactly a year apart, both delivered by Barack Obama, both focused on the Middle East. Same message, same tone? Not really.
While the White House claims that the differences between the 2 speeches are small "and have a remarkable amount of consistency", Fram writes about some of the differences:
Obama, who prides himself on his oratory and devotes time to carefully choosing his phrases, used the words "terror," "terrorist" or "terrorism" 11 times when talking to AIPAC last year. In Cairo, those words weren't used at all, with Obama instead referring to "extremists."

The president also referred to Palestine, presumably the name of a future Palestinian state, twice during his Cairo remarks. He avoided the term completely to AIPAC.

Obama's two addresses also saw him attempt an especially intricate verbal dance on one of the Middle East's most emotional issues, the future status of Jerusalem.

When he was seeking Jewish-American votes a year ago, he said the holy city "will remain the capital of Israel, and it must remain undivided." After Palestinians complained, he later said the city's fate should be decided by negotiation.

On Thursday, he wooed his Cairo audience in part by saying Jerusalem must be "a secure and lasting home for Jews and Christians and Muslims."
There is, however, another remark that Obama made in his speech to AIPAC--one that we can only hope he will keep in mind as he brings pressure to bear on Israel to freeze all growth in the settlements:
Most Israelis and Palestinians want peace, and we must strengthen their hand. The United States must be a strong and consistent partner in this process, not to force concessions, but to help committed partners avoid stalemate and the kind of vacuums that are filled by violence.

...We must never force Israel to the negotiating table. [emphasis added]
I don't recall Obama mentioning this in his Cairo speech.
Do you?

At the same time, Israelis must acknowledge that just as Israel's right to exist cannot be denied, neither can Palestine's. The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements.

This construction violates previous agreements and undermines efforts to achieve peace. It is time for these settlements to stop.
Right--no pressure.

[Hat tip: Jennifer Rubin]

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