Obama's Speech Leaves Israelis Wondering

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As President Obama calls for a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world, some in Israel are wary of this new relationship and what it means for the Jewish people.

The speech was one of the most anticipated in recent Middle East memory. Many saw Obama's speech to the Muslim world as a bellwether for U.S. Middle East policy for the next four years.

The Israeli government reacted with a brief official statement. It read in part, 'We share President Obama's hope that the American effort heralds the beginning of a new era that will bring about an end to the conflict and lead to Arab recognition of Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people, living in peace and security in the Middle East.'

For some, Obama's speech struck chords of hope.

"It was absolutely fantastic," one person said. "It was full of hope and we really need someone like Obama to make peace."

Others were inspired.

"Just completely struck by his courage and his vision," another stated. "I find it totally inspiring."

However, many Israelis felt Obama's speech was more sign Israel is losing its strongest ally in the world and one day soon may have to go it alone.

"Personally, I'm really concerned about what's going on for the next four years and basically I think he's going to leave us alone and we are on our own," one man said.

"A lot of things that he's been saying can be potentially dangerous for Israel," another person said. "He's kind of pitting them against a wall."

In his speech, Obama once again called for a stop to settlements. The additional demand to stop natural growth troubles those who support Jewish communities in the West Bank.

"They think it's a bogus term, natural expansion of the settlements. But like I said, if you have to live there and you have children or you get married and you want to live close to your family, how are you going to do it?," one Israeli said.

But Obama's portrayal of Islam throughout history in his speech concerns some academics.

Obama stated "throughout history, Islam has demonstrated through words and deeds the possibilities of religious tolerance and racial equality."

But Islamic historian and scholar Moshe Sharon says this misrepresents historic Islam.

"When you speak about the equality that Islam has within it, as if all people are equal, it is not true," he explained. "Islam never regarded all people as all equal. Because the Moslems are always on the top and the non-Muslims are dmimmis. Jews and Christians, according to Islamic law can never be on the same level as the Muslim. Where is the equality?"

"The president is very eloquent," Sharon said. "The president is an excellent speaker. He's got his charismatic person and everybody would believe that whatever he says is true. It's not true. Historically, it's not true. Not only, because I'm saying it, but because the Muslims think it's not true. It's not true that there's equality between them and the others."

President Obama plans to set a different course than President Bush did to the Muslim world. This new course will have a profound impact on Israel, the Middle East and the U.S.

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CBN News
Chris Mitchell

Chris Mitchell

CBN News Middle East Bureau Chief

In a time where the world's attention is riveted on events in the Middle East, CBN viewers have come to appreciate Chris Mitchell's timely reports from this explosive region of the world. Mitchell brings a Biblical and prophetic perspective to these daily news events that shape our world.