The Muslim reaction to Obama’s Muslim Nations Speech in Cairo seems to be a mix of accolades, disappointment and skepticism. Basically, the reaction is predictable. While many of the young and moderate Muslims applaud the speech and think it a good step forward to peace, the trouble-makers of the region – the ones that we have the largest gulf in relations with – seem to have met the speech with typical skepticism. Essentially, the only thing to have changed is the face and publicity. As expected the younger and more moderate approve of his words, overwhelmingly. But they aren’t the ones that we need to work with diplomatically. They aren’t the ones with nuclear reactors, RPGs and IDEs. Certainly it is pleasing for there to be a positive reaction amongst the young – as they are the future of their lands. However, the speech did little more than place Obama between a political rock and a hard pitfall. Because the skeptical leaders of nations like Iran and the leaders of “Palestine” are keeping a scorecard. And for every promise that he made in Cairo, they will certainly hold him accountable. If he fails to deliver, it will only prove them right, and further the already cavernous gulf between the U.S. and Islam diplomatically. Iran’s supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, predictably reiterated the hatred that Islam feels for America and Americans.
“People of the Middle East, the Muslim region and North Africa — people of these regions — hate America from the bottom of their heart” “For a long time, these people have witnessed aggressive actions by America, and that’s why they hate them [because of] violence, military intervention, rights violations and discrimination [by the U.S.]” “I say firmly that this will not be achieved by talking, speech and slogans.” He added, “Even if [Obama] delivers hundreds of speeches and talks very sweetly, there will not be a change in how the Islamic countries perceive the United States.” He called on Obama to deliver change “in practice.”
To boil it down, Khamenei is repeating the same canned lines that the Iranian government has been saying for years… every time that the U.S. tries to reach out to them. As usual, Iran is looking for deep concessions – withdraw our troops, leave the Muslim nations alone, stop backing Israel, capitulate to their every demand and let them build nuclear reactors. Stating that Iran simply seeks peaceful nuclear power.
“Our nation says we want to have a nuclear industry,” Khamenei said Thursday. “We want to use nuclear energy in a peaceful way. However, the West and America say that the Iranian nation is seeking to make a nuclear bomb. Why are they telling lies?” “The Iranian government and nation have repeatedly said that we do not want nuclear weapons. We have announced that according to Islamic principles, the use of nuclear weapons is forbidden. It is dangerous to keep nuclear weapons. We are not seeking to have them. We do not want them.”
No offense to the Supreme Leader and all… But is that kind of the same way that Iran does NOT support terrorism? Does not support Hamas? Does not support the killing of innocent civilians – not that he considers any Jew to be an innocent civilian? Is this not also the same man who said that Islamic principles mandated peace? And that killing another Muslim, or any person, was against Islam? While those things are true… I’ll have to remain a skeptic of the source. Allowing Iran (and thus Hamas and numerous other terrorist organizations) to possess the capacity for nuclear weapons would be a tragic mistake. Until such time as they are willing to recognize Israel and take earnest steps towards their numerable human rights issues, I cannot fathom allowing their nuclear program to move forward. He also went on to call our ally, Israel, a “cancerous tumor in the heart of Islam.” Similar sentiments were echoed by Mohammad Marandi, if not more diplomatically.
“I didn’t hear many new things from Obama. We need to see fundamental change in American policies. People in this region are expecting change as much as the people in the United States.” “When Obama says that he recognizes Iran’s rights to having peaceful nuclear energy, does that mean he will honor that right in negotiations with Iran? Or is this rhetoric? This is what we want to know.”
Naturally, I would like an answer to Mr. Marandi’s question as well. If Obama plans to sit back and do nothing about the Iranian nuclear program, Israeli and American citizens could use a bit of a heads up advanced notice. Bunkers take a while to build…. Just saying. Iran’s nuclear program seems to have been the least of Muslim concerns, though. Most of those interviewed seemed to focus more on Palestine and Israel. Most, if not all, agreed that Obama should withdraw support from Israel and back, more forcefully, a two-state solution for the Palestinians… with Jerusalem as their capital. Nabil Abu Rdainah, spokesman for Palestinian President was quoted as saying:
“His call for stopping settlement and for the establishment of a Palestinian state, and his reference to the suffering of Palestinians … is a clear message to Israel that a just peace is built on the foundations of a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital.”
This particular argument is one that had prevented the two-state solution from working. Palestinians insist on owning Jerusalem. However, the Israelis are not going to give it up… it is their capital – and rightfully so. There is no sign of Palestinians backing down from that demand. In fact, there attempts to take and hold Jerusalem is what caused the Israelis to drive them into the Gaza strip and keep them there. Rdainah is not alone in his sentiment. Zafarul-Islam Khan, president of the All India Muslim Majlis-e Mushawarat, seems to share the general opinion that the U.S. should back Palestine and stop supporting Israel.
“He was rather mild on Israel and did not tell us what he proposes to do if Israel rejects peace with its neighbors and continues to subjugate Palestinians and occupy their land. In general, this is a good beginning but only future will tell how far America is ready to go after eight years of a totally uncalled for war on Islam.”
While Mr. Khan may think this speech was a good beginning he, like many others, say that it all depends on Obama’s actions and not just his words. As if shaking loose Israel were a good faith gesture Abdi Rahaman Ibrahim suggests “the Palestinians must now be given independence, so we will believe him more.” In essence it is more of the same. Capitulate and help them flush Israel out, or there will be no peace. Personally, I remain convinced that even if Obama throws full support behind Palestine and actually goes as far as helping them evict Israelis from Israeli land, there will still be no peace… only more demands. The question is, will the Capitulator-in-Chief capitulate or will he do what he does best and simply give flowery speeches? Or, however implausible, will he actually support Israel and get tough on those who seek to destroy the Israeli people?