By Sondra Oster Baras
President Obama has addressed the world from Cairo and his message is troubling, indeed, outright terrifying. This is my response to President Obama:
1. Israel has welcomed its Arab neighbors in peace since its inception, a fundamental principle of Israel’s founding document, our Declaration of Independence. Israel has never called for the destruction or eradication of any of its Arab neighbors. Every Arab state surrounding Israel has, at some point, called for the destruction of Israel. The Palestinians still do.
2. Obama ascribes the negative attitudes regarding Islam prevalent in America to stereotypes and a distorted vision of Islam. While Islam was a great force of modernity and positive accomplishments during the Middle Ages, it is the only western religion to have incorporated Holy War into its essential messages from its inception, and it has become, in recent decades, a faith whose religious leaders promote violence and intolerance on a regular basis. This is not a stereotype. It is a fact.
3. Obama reminds us of the horrors of the Holocaust perpetrated by Christian Europe, but nowhere does he mention the complicity of Arab leaders such as the Mufti of Jerusalem in Hitler’s crimes. He refers to anti-Semitic statements among Arabs, but nowhere does he call his own host country, the Egyptian government, to task for issuing those very statements in its government-controlled press. Obama’s speech has reinforced the notion so prevalent in the Arab world – that only Christians have been the cause of anti-Semitism for centuries and the Muslims are merely paying the price.
4. Obama decides that both Israel and Palestine are legitimate nation states, but he fails to elucidate the basis for this determination. Where is the mention of the historic right of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel? On the other hand, he assumes the right to statehood of a people who came into existence only as a ploy to destroy the legitimacy of the Jewish right to a state. How else can one explain the sudden “birth” of a Palestinian people after the State of Israel was established??
5. Obama denies the legitimacy of the so-called settlements, actually towns, cities and villages located in the center of Biblical Israel, intimating that they are the obstacle to peace in the area, while saying nothing about the violence and attacks by the Arabs against Israel after the latter voluntarily destroyed 22 such “settlements.” Furthermore, Obama blames Israel for the humanitarian crisis in Gaza and calls upon Israel “to ensure that Palestinians can live, and work, and develop their society.” Between August 2005 and December 2008, the only Jew in Gaza was Gilad Shalit who has been held hostage there since 2006. It is Hamas who has prevented the peaceful, economic development of Gaza, not Israel!
6. Obama refers to the support that Hamas enjoys among some Palestinians. The Hamas was elected by an overwhelming majority of the Palestinians in an election that former President Carter assured the world was free and democratic. Perhaps Obama needs to listen to what the Palestinians are really saying behind closed doors and not assume they are saying what he wants them to be saying.
7. Yes,it is a fact that Muslim terrorists murdered 3,000 Americans on 9/11. But it is no less a fact that Muslim terrorists murdered more than 1,000 innocent Israelis, men, women and children, at coffee shops and on busses, after Israel had transferred significant territory to the Palestinians.
8. And, finally, according to Obama, “the Holy Koran teaches that whoever kills an innocent it is as if he has killed all mankind; and whoever saves a person, it is as if he has saved all mankind.” I am not an expert in the Koran and I have no idea if this statement indeed appears in that book. But I am knowledgeable of Jewish traditions and I can tell you that is a statement from the Mishna, Tractate Sanhedrin, Chapter 4, a book that was completed in the third century, quoting rabbis of the previous several hundred years. This statement was first made by a Jew centuries before Islam was ever conceived. And, frankly, it is a statement that Jews have revered and adhered to for centuries. I can’t say the same for Muslims.