By Geoffrey Cook, MMNS
I was greatly honored to be asked to write about my perceptions of Barack Obamaâ€™s speech addressing the Islamic World by the Center for Islam and Democracy in Washington, D.C. even though I am a mere Man of the Book. Through my writings here, my audience should be able to perceive how greatly I have dedicated my career to Muslims gaining their rightful place within American Civil Society, and, thereby, to increase their respect upon the world stage. This expanded essay in and of itself, gives this composition a perspective of a writer looking in rather than one looking out upon Islam and Obama.
Most of what the (U.S.) President addressed in his June 4th speech in Cairo was a breath of fresh air, but, at the same time, he was constrained by his domestic right-wing American Israeli Lobby (AIPAC), and, therefore, his comments ignored Palestineâ€™s right to self-defense, and to admit Israelâ€™s constant State terrorism, and, furthermore, Washingtonâ€™s part in enabling it. Until Tel Aviv renounces these policies, peace in our mutual Holy Land cannot be achieved! The U.S. has to end the Settlements and the â€œWall!â€ If Washington is not willing to do this with our client state in the Levant, Barackâ€™s words are no more than hot air. Obama alludes to â€œAmericaâ€™s strong bonds with Israelâ€ that are â€œunbreakable.â€ This does not bode well for a long term solution to the intolerable Palestinian indignities. Yet, the President committed the American Republic to â€œâ€¦not turn our backs on [the] aspiration for a [Palestinian] stateâ€¦â€ He committed the goal for his Middle East foreign policy to a two State solution within the tri-Sectarian former Mandate from the old League of Nations.
The President admitted that â€œâ€¦many Muslims view the West as hostileâ€¦to Islamâ€¦,â€ but â€œsome in my country [America]â€¦viewâ€¦Islam hostile to America andâ€¦to human rights.â€ This is the basic conundrum between the United States and its allies and the Islamic East.
Obama came to find a middle ground: â€œâ€¦recognizing our common humanity is only the beginning of our taskâ€¦â€ Barack Hussein Obama continues, â€œâ€¦my responsibilityâ€¦ [is] to fight against negative stereo-types of Islamâ€¦â€ He further avows that â€œâ€¦Our problems must be dealt with partnershipâ€¦â€
He asserts that in the Islamic regions and in the West â€œThe first issueâ€¦is violent extremism.â€ In this sense, his Administrationâ€™s policy has not changed its counter-insurgency goals from the previous government, but, unlike the Bush regime, â€œAmerica is notâ€¦at war with Islam.â€
Also, as I wrote last week in my column, the decision to deliver the speech in politically repressive Egypt, and not meet with the Democratic forces there â€“ such as the Muslim Brotherhood â€“ and, further, not to include Hamas in any Palestinian peace negotiations is a grave error, and could, in the long run, destroy any good will generated by these recent statements made in North Africa.