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Obama's Cairo Speech: A Home Run?

President Obama hit almost all the right notes today in his possibly game-changing speech aimed at repairing America's rift with the Muslim world.

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He even nodded to Hamas, acknowledging that Hamas has support among the Palestinians, and – amazingly – did not refer to the organization as a "terrorist group." And, of course, he kept up the pressure on Israeli expansionism by yet again slamming the settlements in the occupied territories – an issue, that likely as not, will bring down Bibi Netanyahu's right-wing government.

On Iran, Obama stated clearly that Iran has the right to peaceful uses of nuclear energy. Indeed, it is precisely that issue that will be at the core of the coming U.S.-Iran dialogue, since for Iran its ability to enrich uranium on Iranian soil is a no-compromise concern. Yet there are plenty of ways to finesse, regulate, and internationalize that.

On democracy, Obama said that "there is no straight line" to create representative governments in the Muslim world, such as Egypt – meaning that he won't push too hard, a la Bush and the neoconservatives, for instant democratic transformation. I think he hit precisely the right note.

His closing was pure Obama:


The Holy Koran tells us: "O mankind! We have created you male and a female; and we have made you into nations and tribes so that you may know one another."

The Talmud tells us: "The whole of the Torah is for the purpose of promoting peace."

The Holy Bible tells us: "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God."

The people of the world can live together in peace. We know that is God's vision. Now that must be our work here on Earth.

Okay, it's a speech. But it's a good start.

Robert Dreyfuss is the author of " Devil's Game: How the United States Helped Unleash Fundamentalist Islam " (Henry Holt/Metropolitan Books).