CAIRO: A mix of support and criticism marked the reaction of American and Israeli media to President Barack Obama’s speech in Cairo on Thursday.
Some lauded his speech as a new beginning for American relations with the Middle East, and others didn’t hold back in denigrating the speech.
“The American president made a frank appeal for a new relationship based on mutual respect, wrote the Los Angeles Times. “Rhetorically, at least, President Obama moved mountains in the land of Mohamed.
The Washington Post commended the speech as a “skillful use of public diplomacy in a region where America s efforts to explain itself have often been weak. Observing the work still to come-and Obama’s acknowledgement of that work-the Post supported the President’s “idealistic sentiment.
But coverage has not all been positive. Critics saw few specifics in Obama’s speech to separate it from former President George W. Bush’s policy in the region, and some further accused Obama of apologizing for America’s past actions.
In an article titled “Barack Hussein Bush, the conservative Wall Street Journal was hesitant to support Obama’s speech. “What he mostly offered were artfully repackaged versions of themes President Bush sounded with his freedom agenda, the Journal wrote.
But the Journal was critical of aspects of the speech that others have seen as apologies for the past. “His insistence on calling Iraq a ‘war of choice’ is a needless insult to Mr Bush that diminishes the cause for which more than 4,000 Americans have died, it wrote.
The Journal found a variety of faults based on what it termed Obama’s “now familiar moral self-indulgence.
It criticized Obama’s claim to an unequivocal stance against torture as false, and questioned Obama’s comparison of Iranian hostility with the United States’ role in the Iranian coup.
The Journal also echoed Israeli concerns that the Palestinians are not prepared for a two-state solution. “That solution depends on Palestinians showing the capacity to build domestic institutions that reject and punish terror against other Palestinians and their neighbors, it wrote.
Despite Obama’s new supportive tone towards the Palestinians and his emboldened stance against Israeli settlements, Israeli media in that country was also largely accepting of the President’s speech.
“No one can ignore the speech given by Barack Obama: The mountain birthed a mountain, wrote journalist Gideon Levy for the Israeli daily Haaretz.
Even the right leaning Jerusalem Post was supportive of the speech, despite Israeli settler and Post blogger Sherri Mandell’s labeling it as “naïve.
The newspaper praised the speech as “the most meaningful and coherent attempt by an American leader since 9/11 to dissociate the world s 1.5 billion Muslims from demagogic elites preaching worldwide jihad and hatred of non-believers.
In his Haaretz article titled “Obama s Cairo speech signals end of the 9/11 era, columnist Akiva Eldar wrote that Obama was laying realistic foundations for two separate states. “Obama left Egypt with two tablets of the commandments – one for Jews and the other for Muslims, wrote Eldar.
He observed with appreciation Obama’s more stern approach towards Israel. “Obama gave Israel the following choices Thursday: Either the conservative Israeli government will adjust itself to the American people s choice in electing a liberal president, or the speech will be the lightning that precedes the thunder.