By Dr. Elias Akleh
Young athletic Obama reflects active energy whether running up the ladder stairs into his Air Force One plane, or giving speeches, such as the song-and-dance so-called historic speech to the Islamic World in Cairo University last Thursday June 4th.
This was a very well written speech meant to touch the hearts of Muslims by playing some of their religious tunes citing Qur’anic verses in order to re-gain their trust and their cooperation the US lost during the Bush administration.
To obtain this goal Obama’s speech followed a well-defined line that started with his own understanding of the causes of the conflict between the West and the Islamic World, his intent of breaking the cycle of conflict, his seeking a new beginning between the US and the Muslim world, his assertion that he is a different president with understanding of Islamic religion, his request for equal partnerships with the Islamic governments to deal with seven major issues in order to achieve better life for all, and finally his call for the younger generations to eliminate doubt of intentionality and fear of partnership based on previous experiences in order to remake this world. In other words he is saying: there is a problem, I can fix it, trust me because I am different, here is what I want you to do to help me fix the problem, and here is your reward for doing so.
To the average person the speech looks genuine, truthful, honest, and ushers the change Obama had always talked about. Looking deeper into the speech, its hidden messages, and its meta-messages one can recognize its condescending, its manipulations, and its contradictions with the actions and decisions of Obama’s administration.
It is a political naivet? to believe that any US president, even black and looks different can change the American policies, either internal or foreign. Such policies are formulated by power elites in secluded meetings outside the federal compounds. All the president can do is to function as their fa?ade and to follow their dictates because he was hired (others may think elected) to do so.
It has been recognized that the policies of direct hard and violent military approach of fighting “Islamofascism”, crusading “global war on terror”, building the “New Middle East”, and spreading “freedom and the American democracy”, the Bush administration had adopted for the last eight years, had failed on many fronts, and succeeded only in alienating the friendly Arab regimes, building fierce military resistance, strengthening anti-American sentiments in the Islamic World in general, and causing economical crises. A new approach is needed, and Obama’s change (soft manipulative approach) is introduced.
Obama acknowledged civilization’s debt to Islam and that it had been a part of America’s story with 7 million American Muslims and over 1,200 mosques. Obama declared that “part of my responsibility as President of the US to fight against negative stereotypes of Islam”. Yet he did not put an end to federal eavesdropping on Muslims’ phone conversations, the spying on mosques, the closure of Muslim charity institutions such as the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development in Dallas and the long imprisonment judgments against five of its founders, end of May, for delivering food stuff to American recognized charities in Gaza Strip, and many similar anti-Muslim crimes in the US.
Obama confessed, implicitly, that hostility was caused by colonialism (neocons) and violent Muslim extremists (terrorists), “tension has been fed by colonialism that denied rights and opportunities to many Muslims, and a Cold War in which Muslim countries were … treated as proxies without regard to their own aspirations” and “violent extremists have exploited these tensions in a small but potent minority of Muslims”. Yet he wants “this cycle of suspicion and discord must end”.
Obama asked the Muslim World to discard the “crude stereotype” of America as “a self-interested empire”, and requested that they partner with him in solving problems. He stated: “Our problems must be dealt with through partnership; our progress must be shared”. This is the real goal of this speech; some type of partnership that serves the interests of the US as we can detect in the rest of his speech.
We see here clearly the hypocritical condescending attitude of the speech, where he claimed that only he, or only the US, knows what the problems of the Islamic World are, how to deal with them, and that he has the right and/or the authority to tell the Islamic World how to deal with these problems.
He asked them first to join him in confronting what he called violent extremists (Bush’s global war on terror). He repeated the myth of the globally spread and strong al-Qaeda terrorists, who perpetrated the attacks of 911, and stressed that al-Qaeda’s attack is a fact and not opinions to be debated. Obama wanted us to ignore all the scientific facts that contradict the official story of 911 attacks, and indicate that 911 was an inside job.
Obama denies American plans of building military bases in Afghanistan and Iraq along the oil pipe lines and to revive the opium industry in Afghanistan to regain the money laundering through Wall Street. Although Obama knows very well that Iraqi invasion was a “war of choice” that has devastated the country and led to strong anti-American sentiments he claimed that “Iraqi people are ultimately better off without the tyranny of Saddam Hussein”. The fact is Iraqis, even those who hated Saddam Hussein, are longing for at least the peace and safety they enjoyed under his rule compared to the Americans.
Although Obama can understand that the trauma of 911 had led his country “… to act contrary to our traditions and our ideals”, such as wars in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq, and human rights violations such as kidnapping, renditions and torture, yet he could not understand that all these traumas had led Muslims in general to resist such violent acts. So he claimed that “America will defend itself, respectful of the sovereignty of nations and the rule of law” through invading other countries and dropping bombs on civilians. The Americans “will do so in partnership with Muslim communities which are also threatened”. It seems any threat to America is also a threat to Muslim communities since Obama claimed that these violent extremists had killed Muslims of different faith more than Americans, ignoring the fact that American military had adopted the policies of divide in order to conquer, and igniting hatred between different ethnic and religious groups.
Obama’s real goal of the speech and his hypocritical condescending attitude is clearly expressed when he stated: “The sooner the extremists are isolated and unwelcome in Muslim communities, the sooner we (Americans) will all be safer”. The hidden message here is that terrorists exist only in Muslim communities, and Obama wants the Muslim governments, as proxies, to eliminate those terrorists, who resist American colonialism. To motivate Muslim governments to destroy the terrorists among them Obama abused the Qur’anic teachings “whoever (terrorists) kills an innocent it is as if he has killed all mankind, and whoever (government) saves a person, it is as if he has saved all mankind”.
The real violent extremists terrorist are the neocons, who worked in the Bush administration, who waged wars and terror around the world such as in Haiti, Sudan, Somalia, Afghanistan, Iraq and the Middle East. They have caused the devastations of several countries, and killed several millions of souls with each soul as killing all mankind. Yet Obama had refused to persecute these terrorists in the American communities.
As for the Israeli occupation of Palestine, Obama started with a warning to the Arabs by reasserting the unconditional immoral support for terrorist Israel. He talked about America’s unbreakable bond to Israel “… based upon cultural and historical ties” as if the Jews, a small minority in America, are the only people having cultural and historical ties to America. Are there really any such bonds besides arming Israel? He acknowledged the Jewish suffering in Europe, and their “aspiration (Zionist colonial plan) for a Jewish homeland” that came on the expense of Palestinians. He stated that “threatening Israel with destruction is deeply wrong” ignoring the fact that Arabs and Muslims had never threatened Israel but extended many peace treaties to Israeli leaders, who rejected them. The opposite is true. Israel is threatening Arabs and Muslims. Suffering from a holocaust should have motivated them not to inflict similar holocaust on others.
On the other hand Obama recognized the “undeniable” Palestinian sufferings, pain and dislocations. Yet he did not confess that Israel, backed with American military support, is the cause of this suffering. It is a well known fact that Obama’s administration is still providing Israel with weapons, $3 BILLION worth this year, to kill Palestinians and usurp more land, even after the Gaza holocaust. He justified this with “but if we see this conflict only from one side or the other, then we will be blind to the truth”. Obama should look at the conflict from the side of justice. The Israelis had violently occupied Palestine, rejected the two states and the one state solutions and all other peace initiatives because their real “aspiration” is for Greater Israel from Nile to Euphrates. Ignoring this is another political naivet?.
Obama supported the two states solution, and promised to “…personally pursue this outcome with all the patience and dedication that the task requires”. Promises … promises. But “Palestinians must abandon violence (terror)” seems to be the price of such dedication. Obama, here, ignored and legitimized the 61 years long Israeli terror against Palestinians, and denied the Palestinians the legal and moral right to resist occupation that is legitimized by the UN charter. He turned the table around describing Israelis as the victims of Palestinian aggression stating that it is not a sign of courage or power “to shoot rockets at sleeping children, or to blow up old women on a bus”. He forgot to mention Israeli American made fighters dropping American made bombs on Palestinian civilian homes killing more children and women also while sleeping.
Obama’s call to Palestinians to stop their resistance and to learn non-violent struggle methods from the American blacks, from people from South Africa to South Asia and from Eastern Europe to Indonesia, is hypocrisy and flatly wrong. All these people had won their freedom and their rights only when their oppressors realized that they cannot defeat the people’s armed resistance. Obama needs only to study the black history in America to realize this fact. Yet Palestinians had always used peaceful methods more than violence. They had adopted peace initiatives, peace negotiations, demonstrations, Intifadas, lobbying and conferences, economic boycotts, divestment, and many other peaceful methods. It is only when the Israelis had met these peaceful methods with more brutal aggression that some Palestinians resorted to internationally approved armed resistance.
Obama denied the legitimacy of the democratically elected Hamas, who “..have support among some Palestinians” and demanded they ” … must put an end to violence, recognize past agreements, recognize Israel’s right to exist”. He ignored the fact that Israel is the violent party, had sabotaged and annulled past unjust towards Palestinians agreements, and does not recognize Palestinians’ right to exist on their own land. He then declared that Israel had violated past agreements “This construction (of Israeli settlements) violates previous agreements … it is time for these settlements to stop”. These settlements are illegal under international law and must be dismantled not just stopped.
Obama summed up the Palestinian cause as a “.. continuing humanitarian crisis” and asked Israel to take concrete steps to enable Palestinian progress. Yet he demanded Arab governments to do more than the Peace Initiative which he considered only a beginning. He told them that since “privately, many Muslims recognize that Israel will not go away”, you should act accordingly and help Palestinians “to recognize Israel’s legitimacy, and to choose progress over a self-defeating focus on the past”
Lastly tickling the Islamic religious feeling with the story of Isra when Moses, Jesus, and Mohammed joined in prayer in Jerusalem, Obama called to turn originally Arab Jerusalem into an international city.
Along the last 61 years Israel has been the American mad dog in the heart of the Arab World. Successive American administrations promise Arab regimes to keep this Israeli dog on leash preventing it from expanding its territory providing the Arab regimes do the American biddings. Obama’s administration is not different.
Talking about nuclear armaments Obama requested Iran to abide by the NPT, to overcome decades of mistrust caused by the US/Iran conflicts, and to prepare to move forward with the US to discuss the many issues between the two countries. Obama wanted to make it clear that “when it comes to nuclear weapons, we have reached a decisive point … it’s about preventing a nuclear arms race in the Middle East that could lead this region and the world down a hugely dangerous path”. Although he hinted that some countries (Israel) have nuclear weapons he did not mention Israel’s nuclear weapons emboldening Israel’s terror and threatening the region. He ignored America’s own nuclear weapons, America’s so-called defense shield in Europe, and all the nuclear bomb carriers; battleships, submarines, and fighter planes surrounding Iran from all sides.
Obama tried to alienate himself from Bush’s doctrine of spreading American democracy and stated that no government should impose its system on other nations. He declared his commitment, though, to governments that reflect the will of the people. Yet his administrated had ignored and opposed the Palestinian choice of Hamas. He ignored American meddling in the elections of other countries such as Venezuela, Georgia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Lebanon recently, and even the coming elections of Iran.
As for religious freedom Obama accused Muslims if intolerance: “Among some Muslims, there’s a disturbing tendency to measure one’s own faith by the rejection of somebody else’s faith”. He cited the divisions between Sunni and Shia that led to tragic violence in Iraq as evidence of such intolerance. Yet he ignored the fact that Western countries, particularly the US, are greatly anti-Muslims. America had invented the terms extremist/fundamentalist Muslims, terrorist Muslims, Islamofascist, and Islamophobia. Muslims have been largely persecuted in America since 911. Obama ignored the fact that Islamic division in Iraq was the result of American policy of divide in order to conquer. Obama would not even dare to talk about Jewish religious intolerance and the rejection of others as represented by their concept of god’s chosen people.
Obama paid lip service to women’s rights giving women the right to choose her dress and to pursue education and careers equal to men.
Finally Obama talked about economic development; a dear subject to his heart. He invited the oil rich Gulf States to re-invest their money back into the US because “no development strategy can be based only upon what comes out of the ground, nor it can be sustained while young people are out of work”. Many Gulf States withdrew their money from American banks after 911. Obama also wanted the Gulf States to increase its production of oil and to decrease the price. Hence, came his sudden unplanned quick visit to Saudi Arabia. In return Obama promised to “create a new corps of business volunteers to partner with counterparts in Muslim-majority countries”.
Obama ended his speech with patronizing quotes from the three religions and calling to work together for peace.
Obama sang and danced very well. Now comes time for deeds.