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svgadminsvgSeptember 21, 2011svgNews

Analysis: Obama’s Address at the UN Was an Improvement

US President Barack Obama’s speech at the United Nations was eagerly awaited in Israel and the Middle East region.

For Israel, the speech marked an improvement over the previous two addresses at the United Nations by Barack Obama.

If in previous addresses, Obama had given the impression that Israel arose as a result of the Holocaust, this time around he referred to Israel as the “historic homeland” of the Jews.

In another portion of his address, he referred to a Jewish history marked by exile and persecution. Exile means that you are banished from your home (if he meant the Jews leaving Spain, he would have used the word expulsion) again emphasizing that the Jews are far from strangers to the Land of Israel, something that the Arabs choose to deny.

The other improvement was procedural. An Arab-Israeli peace, like the peace in Sudan and the peace in Northern Ireland, argued Obama, can only be the product of a negotiated solution. It cannot be imposed from without.

All in all, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman had reasons to be pleased with the address.

Obama endorsed the Arab Spring unstintingly, although there were nuances. The peaceful revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt were welcomed, as was the ejection of the Libyan despot Qaddafi. Bahrain, on Saudi Arabia’s doorstep, was a matter for reforms and dialogue rather than revolution.

The brunt of Obama’s criticism fell upon Syria. The references to Iran were remarkably low-key,  a sentence on democracy and another on nuclear proliferation. No mention was made of sanctions. This might signal that something is in the works. Iran has just announced that it is releasing two American hikers who have been imprisoned for two years after straying into Iran and being charged with espionage.

The speech was not only targeted at foreign leaders and audiences, but also to a US domestic audience and particularly Obama’s electoral base.

Obama effectively announced that during the second term he would be Obama, the peace president. Regrettably, he intimated, the United States had been drawn into war by Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda, but now the United States was on its way out of Iraq and Afghanistan, having liquidated Osama bin Laden and brought Al-Qaeda to its knees.

The full text and video of Obama’s speech to the world body can be found HERE.

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