Obama's Speech: Right Man, Right Place, Right Time
Founder and president of the Arab American Institute
There are times I am struck by how fortunate we are that Barack Obama was elected president on November 4th, 2008. This is one of those times. Having spent the last 30 years of my life working to bridge the divide between the US and the Arab World, I became increasingly concerned, during the past 8 years, as I watched that divide grow into what I feared might develop into an unbridgeable chasm. The damage done by the alternately reckless and neglectful policies of the last Administration had taken an enormous toll.
How could we change direction?
Watching the president addressing the Muslim world from a podium at the University of Cairo, provided an answer.
One must marvel at the sweep of history that brought this man to that place at this moment. I speak here not only of his personal narrative, so quintessentially American, but the breadth of his vision and his determination to face down overwhelming odds in making this brave effort to restore America's image, reclaim our values and restore frayed relationships.
President Obama's speech to the Muslim and Arab world covered a great deal of ground -- evidence of how many problems we must solve in order to heal the deep divide.
Expectations in the Middle East for this speech had been running high, and not without justification. In his short -- and extraordinary -- career, President Obama had displayed a tendency to take on big issues with big speeches. He had been building up to this moment for over a year, since he first announced his intention to travel abroad to speak directly to the Muslim world. He did not disappoint.
It was, by any measure, a "big speech." More like a "State of the Union" address than the Philadelphia "Race speech" or his remarks on abortion at Notre Dame. It was an agenda-setter, a menu designed to address a wide range of problems across a broad region. It was evidence of the massive undertaking that will be required in order to restore our standing. LinkHere
Author of Newser.com's Off the Grid column
The president's Cairo speech had three overt targets: Muslim extremists, Israel, and George Bush, not necessarily in that order.
He sought to undermine the moral authority of the extremists by radically departing from the language of Anglo colonials. Then he blew a chill into the intransigent heart of Israel by indicating a realignment of official attitudes, relationships, and diplomatic norms. As a topper, he pretty clearly made the case that the intellectual and cultural underpinning of the war on terror and America's geo-political strategy in the Middle East -- the rotten legacy of his predecessor -- have been dim and bigoted.
In the annals of speeches, you'd be hard pressed to find one as ambitious as this.
Each of his targets has got to be scrambling now. LinkHere
Elie Wiesel in Buchenwald: The Moral Challenge To Learn, and Act Buchenwald, 1945. Wiesel is on the second row from the bottom, seventh from the left.
Today, Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel joined Barack Obama at Buchenwald, one of Nazi Germany's worst concentration camps, but he worried that "the world hasn't learned" from the tragedy.
To Our Friends:
We are deeply saddened and distressed that we, along with many others, have been the victims of what may be one of the largest investment frauds in history. We are writing to inform you that the Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity had $15.2 million under management with Bernard Madoff Investment Securities. This represented substantially all of the Foundation's assets.
The values we stand for are more needed than ever. We want to assure you that the Foundation remains committed to carrying on the lifelong work of our founder, Elie Wiesel. We shall not be deterred from our mission to combat indifference, intolerance, and injustice around the world.
At this difficult time, the Foundation wishes to express its profound gratitude for all your support.
The Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity
This represented substantially all of the Foundation's assets." $15.2 million and 20 years of good works, of building something that not only makes a difference but stands for making a difference, every day -- gone. LinkHere