Over at the Intent.com, Deepak Chopra offers some analysis of Obama’s speech in Cairo:
…it was a cobweb-clearing speech. The content wasn’t exceptional. Before Muslims assumed the role of bogeyman after 9/11, any tolerant educated person realized that Islamic civilization has a great heritage. Nor is it news that the Muslim world is far more complex than the picture painted by a tiny minority of fanatical extremists. Yet to hear an American president reiterate these things had a powerful emotional effect.
The heart of the speech, once we get past its effort at reconciliation, was Obama’s candid talk about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the social obstructions in Arab society. It was bracing to hear him say that “Israel isn’t going away,” just as it was moving to hear the words, “peace be upon them” when he referred to Muhammad and Abraham. In one stroke Obama set America’s policy toward the Arab world back on a sensible, moral, even idealistic path.
He goes on to intelligently call attention to what’s ultimately needed:
Yet there is a glaring problem that the speech didn’t confront directly, which is the inability of “good” Muslims to stand up for change. “Good” is equated with devout, and that’s a huge obstacle to reform. The Muslim world has not liberated its core values from the dogmas of religion. In the name of devotion to God women are denied even basic rights; terrorists march under the banner of faith; mullahs control credulous masses of believers; education for the average citizen is totally centered on the Koran. All of these are backward trends.
As I listened to Obama, I was struck at how he was asking to be met in resetting a relationship. As he said, he can’t do it alone. To be sure, America needs to reevaluate broken policies. But all of it needs to be actively supported by the part of the Muslim community that can “lunch in London restaurants and shop in Paris boutiques as often as they attend the mosque.”