US President Barack Obama's intentions when delivering his overlong, cloying and history-warping Cairo University speech may have been good. He may have genuinely imagined himself on a messianic mission to win Muslim hearts by virtue of his own (hitherto expediently downplayed) Muslim background.
His references to colonialism and past treatment of Arabs as Cold War proxies (never mind their own cynical exploitation of the clout handed them thereby) no doubt appealed equally to politically correct European postmodernists. Anything that takes the West down a peg and exalts the Third World is in great vogue.
That, coupled with the seemingly sincere stance of the speaker and his superstar can't-set-a-foot-wrong invulnerability, makes his assertions stick excruciatingly in the craw of chronically uncool, non-cheerleader types. It's hard to swallow so much schmaltz and saccharine, washed down with so much honey and olive oil.
Try as some of us benighted nausea-prone sorts did, we couldn't sprout fairy wings and dance merrily in the light projected from the halo of the White House resident. Nitpickers that we are, we couldn't stop harping on incidentals such as the slapdash equivalence Obama drew between the Holocaust and the Palestinian "pain of dislocation," and between mass murder and settlement construction (much of Jerusalem included).
We couldn't chant his mantra that Palestinian "displacement" was "brought by Israel's founding" (fully in line with deceptive Arab narratives). We couldn't gracefully accept blame for "daily humiliations that come with occupation," or for Gaza's "humanitarian crisis." Unable to partake in the stylish hoopla and pretend that Obama spouted novel insights and revelations, we couldn't extinguish some unmodified memories. No matter how much we're urged to beat our breasts in agonizing contrition, we know Israelis never set out to dispossess anyone. We likewise know that designs existed on the Arab side not only to dispossess all Jews in yet-to-be-born Israel, but if possible to annihilate every last one of them.
ON MAY 1, 1948, two weeks before Israel's birth, Arab League secretary-general Azzam Pasha warned: "If the Zionists dare establish a state, the massacres we would unleash will dwarf anything which Genghis Khan and Hitler perpetrated."
Obama should know Arabs became displaced in combat they initiated for the express purpose of displacing Jews. It's bad if he doesn't realize this. It's abysmally worse if he deliberately feigns ignorance of the 1947-48 expulsions by Arabs of Jews in this country from both ancient and new communities, with all the attendant carnage Azzam Pasha promised and which was already then - before Israel's establishment - maliciously drilled into the Arab mentality.
On its first day, defenseless newborn Israel was ruthlessly attacked by seven Arab armies. So-called Palestinians ended up subjecting themselves to a minuscule portion of the catastrophe they planned for Israelis. They got their just deserts. Israel only caused the problem by not adhering to the Arab script for its own demise. Though tragically outnumbered and outarmed, Israel gallingly repulsed the concerted Arab invasion. That was Israel's one and only cardinal offense.
So, Obama, pardon us for living.
Prior to Israel's creation, Arabs refused any compromise that left Jews even an unviable toehold like the deathtrap patchwork between Tel Aviv and Netanya. Obama disingenuously avoided mentioning that the Arabs could have had their Palestinian state but didn't want it. They wanted Israel destroyed. They instigated bloody sabotage of the UN's 1947 partition resolution (which they now wish implemented). Had the Arabs not launched their war, they wouldn't have lost. There would have been no refugees and no pretext for unremitting discontent.
The same goes for their discomforts at roadblocks and their distress in Gaza. Had they not launched a terror war, no checkpoints, barriers or limitations on Gazan crossings would have been necessary. These originated from the need to protect Israelis from free-roaming terrorists. Arabs inflicted this too on themselves, yet outside onlookers - Obama foremost - accept and promote the "poor pitiful Palestinian underdog" pose.
BY LIKENING Palestinians to America's black slaves, Obama inculcated a shocking canard into the minds of his adulating audiences. He didn't criticize the professed motivations of the terrorists (or "extremists" in his idiom), only the ineffectiveness of their methods. "Resistance through violence," he intoned, "does not succeed." Had it succeeded, it might perhaps receive his blessing.
Obama rendered the perception of terrorists as freedom fighters an axiomatic premise. He amplified this key Arab propaganda postulate - that terror was provoked by the Nakba, the Arab homegrown "calamity" and insidious synonym for Jewish self-determination. Nakba is the lead entry in the Arab lexicon of Israel's delegitimization, and its ongoing effect on the Arab psyche is potent.
Arabs demand confession of crime and auto-demonization from Israel. Thereafter, presumably, aspiring Arab exterminators might let some Jews subsist as tainted interlopers in their sphere (what the Third Reich called lebensraum). By playing along, Obama drastically diminished peace prospects rather than enhancing them. Why would vehemence against Israel subside when the leader of the free world validates it?
Essentially, Obama requires Israelis to acknowledge culpability or be pilloried as obstructionists. Yet wouldn't Israeli self-denunciation serve as justification for Israel's eventual elimination? Admission of guilt would hardly make fanatical hate abate. If anything, it would encourage millions of brainwashed Arabs, spuriously claiming refugee status, to inundate and eradicate the Jewish state.
Had Obama earnestly intended to become a harbinger of change, the last thing he'd have claimed was that Israel spawned the Palestinian problem. He would have stressed that hate predated Israel, that Arabs fulminated with genocidal antagonism even as Jews began marring the perfection of a depopulating desert ringed by putrid malaria-ridden swamps. "Butcher the Jews" was the clarion call - already in the early 1920s - of the revered pan-Arab would-be fuhrer Haj Amin el-Husseini, the soon-to-become avid Nazi collaborator, Berlin-resident Holocaust accomplice and wanted war criminal.
Obama should have emphasized that the so-called Palestinian misfortune was bred by lethal Arab lies - from cynical incitement to slaughter in 1929 because Jews purportedly plotted domination of the Temple Mount (to which, according to brazen Arab fabrication, Jews anyway have absolutely no historic/religious ties) to the latest spate of intifadas fuelled by the identical calumnies.
Change isn't flattery, but courage to state the truth: Palestine is an irredentist contrivance. Arabs only discovered (and initially rejected) the European appellation (of anti-Judaic Roman origins) after the British Mandate began.
But the more a lie is allowed to fester, the more it takes hold. Over time it becomes a given, not only in the seething Mideast but also among intellectually indolent respectable folks elsewhere. Truth is fragile. Obama failed to sustain it. If anything, he severely undercut it. He granted falsehoods and semi-falsehoods the sort of incomparable resonance that wouldn't prevent the clash of civilizations, but would hasten it.