A Big Shift in Obama's Middle East Rhetoric

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Daled Amos hears something important in Barack Obama's U.N. speech:

It seems that somebody may have finally clued Obama in to the fact that Jews in Israel is not a modern phenomenon that started after the Holocaust.

In his remarks to the UN General Assembly on September 23, Obama said:
Israel is a sovereign state, and the historic homeland of the Jewish people. It should be clear to all that efforts to chip away at Israel's legitimacy will only be met by the unshakeable opposition of the United States. And efforts to threaten or kill Israelis will do nothing to help the Palestinian people. The slaughter of innocent Israelis is not resistance -- it's injustice. And make no mistake: The courage of a man like President Abbas, who stands up for his people in front of the world under very difficult circumstances, is far greater than those who fire rockets at innocent women and children.[emphasis added]
Aside from his warning about delegitimizing Israel, Obama's remarks are a vast improvement on his previous remarks about the history of Jews and Israel.

In his Cairo speech, Obama (inadvertently, rather than maliciously, from all that I can tell) suggested that the Holocaust provided the justification for the creation of Israel. The creation of Israel, of course, is justified by all of Jewish history. It is Judaism itself that ties the Jewish people to the ancient land of Israel. European anti-Semitism simply made the return of the Jews a more urgent matter than it otherwise would have been.

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Jeffrey Goldberg is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and a recipient of the National Magazine Award for Reporting. He is the author of Prisoners: A Story of Friendship and Terror. More

Before joining The Atlantic in 2007, Goldberg was a Middle East correspondent, and the Washington correspondent, for The New Yorker. He was previouslly a correspondent for The New York Times Magazine and New York magazine. He has also written for the Jewish Daily Forward and was a columnist for The Jerusalem Post.

Goldberg's book Prisoners was hailed as one of the best books of 2006 by the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Slate, The Progressive, Washingtonian magazine, and Playboy. He received the 2003 National Magazine Award for Reporting for his coverage of Islamic terrorism and the 2005 Anti-Defamation League Daniel Pearl Prize. He is also the winner of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists prize for best international investigative journalist; the Overseas Press Club award for best human-rights reporting; and the Abraham Cahan Prize in Journalism.

In 2001, Goldberg was appointed the Syrkin Fellow in Letters of the Jerusalem Foundation, and in 2002 he became a public-policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C.

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