President Obama's call for "a new beginning" between the U.S. and the Muslim world was "remarkable and historic," said Mike Allen in Politico, "not so much for the delivery or even the words, but for the context, the orator, the moment." Obama delivered the much-anticipated speech in Egypt—"where the political opposition can be jailed, beaten, or outlawed." He directed "blunt talk" toward the U.S. and Islamic leaders in a "major test" of his "ability to translate his appealing rhetoric into real change." (watch Obama's Cairo speech; or read it)
It's too early to say whether Obama's speech "will be the balm to America’s broken relationship with Islam that White House officials hope," said Helene Cooper in The New York Times. Judging by the standing ovation Obama got in Cairo, his words resonated with many of the world's 1.5 billion Muslims. But Obama's actions on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and other crucial issues "will be far more important.
A "new beginning" sounds good, said Reuters. Issandr El-Amrani, an independent political analyst in Egypt, said Obama— who twice quoted the Koran—may have generated some goodwill by saying that Palestinian suffering was "intolerable." But Obama's failure to offer any specific new initiatives for addressing the main issue on his audience's mind -- the Israeli-Palestinian conflict -- was surely a disappointment.
The whole "spectacle" was a disappointment, said Rachel Abrams in The Weekly Standard. Obama stood there in "a police state," and "his greatest portion of criticism was reserved for the only nation in that otherwise benighted region that actually does believe in human rights and practices democracy, namely Israel. What a disgrace."
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