Do Middle Easterners Care About Obama's Speech?

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If you follow the Twitter Machine (especially the Middle East Twitter Machine), you'll see many angry tweets from people in Saudi Arabia, Egypt and other countries informing us that they don't care about Obama's speech, and not only do they not care, they also don't give a shit, etc. etc.
I don't particularly believe them. On my last trip through the Middle East, I expected to find a widespread lack of interest in America and its role in the region -- after all, the Arab Spring is about them, not us -- all the usual tropes. Instead, I found that people wanted to talk about America, sometimes endlessly. Occasional praise for America (very occasional) was mixed with angry denunciations, complaints, advice, and, of course, requests, for all manner of aid and support. I think these expressions of disinterest represent a pose, an understandable pose, but still a pose. America remains an important player in the Middle East, and a huge presence in the minds of Middle Easterners.  

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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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