Thursday, June 4, 2009

AJC Applauds Obama Cairo Speech

/PRNewswire / -- American Jewish Committee (AJC) warmly welcomed President Barack Obama's speech in Cairo today, which aimed at forging a new understanding between the United States and the Muslim world.

While addressing a range of issues, President Obama underlined that the rejection of anti-Semitism and the legitimacy of Israel were not negotiable.

"In the heart of a region where denial is routine -- denial of Israel's right to exist, denial of the historic link of Jews to their homeland, denial of the Holocaust -- President Obama spoke the truth with a clear, unwavering voice," said David Harris, AJC Executive Director.

Obama told his audience: "Six million Jews were killed -- more than the entire Jewish population of Israel today. Denying that fact is baseless, ignorant and hateful. Threatening Israel with destruction -- or repeating vile stereotypes about Jews -- is deeply wrong, and only serves to evoke in the minds of Israelis this most painful of memories while preventing the peace that the people of this region deserve."

Harris applauded Obama for reaffirming that America's "strong bonds" with Israel are "unbreakable," and for urging Arab states to "recognize Israel's legitimacy."

AJC praised President Obama for stating his personal commitment to pursue "with all the patience the task requires" a negotiated settlement to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Toward that end, President Obama made clear that "violence is a dead end," as he called again on Hamas to "put an end to violence, recognize past agreements and recognize Israel's right to exist."

Harris praised Obama's focus on Iran's confrontation with the international community over its nuclear weapons drive -- a confrontation the President said has reached "a decisive point."

AJC is disappointed, however, that the President was not more explicit about the danger Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons poses to the entire Middle East and to global security.

"Iran's theocratic regime is a world leader in supporting terrorism, threatening moderate Arab regimes and orchestrating the chorus of extremists who deny Israel's right to exist," said Harris. "The U.S. has an obligation to more vigorously lead the international community in stopping the Iranian nuclear program."

President Obama also noted the democracy, human rights and gender equality deficits in the Muslim world, urging greater protection of religious freedom and respect for democratic values. Harris urged the President to press forward with these causes, saying, "The Middle East will only flourish when people of all faiths live in free societies that respect their dignity and unleash their creative potential. The pursuit of peace will be impeded as long as the region's one true democracy, Israel, is surrounded by dictatorships and theocracies."

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