Obama identifies with Jewish struggle

US President: Outreach to Muslims designed to reduce antagonism.

Obama311 (photo credit: Associated Press)
(photo credit: Associated Press)
US President Barak Obama discussed his affiliation with the Muslim community on Thursday, in a yet-to-be-aired Channel 2 television interview.
"My middle name is Hussein and that attracts suspicion," Obama said. He continued by stating that his outreach to the Muslim community is designed to reduce antagonism towards Israel.
Obama said that he is able to identify with the Jewish struggle for a state because there are many similarities to the African American freedom movement.
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The US President also discussed his opinion of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.
"Not only is Netanyahu smart and savvy, the fact that he is not perceived as a dove in some ways can be helpful. Any successful peace will have to include the hawks and the doves on both sides," the US president said.
Obama used examples from US history and said "In the same way [former US president] Nixon was able to go to China with strong anti-communist credentials, I think Netanyahu is well positioned to bring about peace."
Obama: 'Netanyahu wants his country on secure tracks'
Regarding the recent talks between the two on Wednesday, Obama noted, "I had the impression that Netanyahu is not just interested in occupying a space and filling a role, he is interested in being a statesman and putting his country on more secure tracks."
Talking about the last time that Netanyahu visited the US Obama said: "We had a terrific meeting. The Prime Minister was interested in working out some issues."
Obama admitted that he has had differences of opinion with Netanyahu regarding the settlements issue.
He also said that Israel is right to be skeptical about the peace process. But, he noted, many people thought the founding of Israel was impossible, so its very existence should be "a great source of hope."
Obama said "being hopeful is not the same as being blindly optimistic."
"Israelis look at the past and have skepticism of what is possible. Israelis see rockets fired from Gaza and Lebanon and say that hatred is so deep rooted that change is not possible," commented Obama.
Obama: 'J'lem is a profound pleasure'
The US president also recalled visiting Jerusalem before he became president. He described wandering anonymously through the Old City as "a profound pleasure" that he's too well-known to enjoy now. Obama laughed about leaving a prayer at the Western Wall during his most recent visit, only to have someone remove it and print it in a newspaper.
Obama's comments came after he and Netanyahu exchanged affirmations of the strength of the US-Israel relationship during an Oval Office meeting Tuesday, in which they stressed the shared goal of quickly moving forward with the peace process.