Something was very weird in Cairo

By Daniel Chejfec

Maybe it is just me, but I had great expectations about Obama's speech in Cairo; some of them were met but a few of them, very important to me, were not. The first one is that while he defended the right of muslim women to wear their Hijab in France (I'm with him in that one), he did NOT defend the right of women NOT to wear the Hijab in Riyad or Cairo or Teheran. Does that mean that western Democracy needs to do a "mea culpa" but Arabs can continue to oppress half their population? There were other indicators that Obama decided to give up on getting the Arab world up to speed with Modernity. He all but implied that if Arabs reject Modernity, they need to get to their own version of Democracy in their own time and their own terms - but I ask an uncomfortable question: If we share the same planet and the same ancestors, shouldn't we try to find common ground on what freedom an democracy mean?

The other thing that bothered me was that he referred to Israel as founded because of the Holocaust. Hello? what has he been reading? The Jewish community in the territory of what is today Israel started building the infrastructure of a modern Nation in the XIX Century, founded ther city of Tel-Aviv in 1909, the first Kibbutz in 1908, and Jews were the largest population group in Jerusalem in the 1880s. Are any of these dates AFTER the Holocaust?. Mister President - if you wish to be an "honest broker", do not deny the Jewish people its dignity nor dismiss its achievements. Had the world fulfilled the obligations written  in the Mandate of 1920, maybe a lot more of those Jews stuck in Europe because America closed it doors would have survived.

Mr President, I think you did something very courageous and your instincts are on the money when you believe that there is a need for a new beginning between America and the Muslim world. Just don't make that beginning one based on lies, or submission, or the sell-out of a strong ally. Friends can be made only as equals, not by giving the store away!


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