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Why did Obama really have to talk about Israel on Thursday?

May 23, 2011 | Comments Off

I’ve been musing about President Barack Obama’s speech on the Middle East and North Africa for the past week: I like it, I like it not. And I still don’t have a clue what to make of it after listening to him on Sunday as he addressed the influential pro-Israel lobby group, American Israel Public Affairs Committee.

No doubt that the president gives fantastic speeches. The one on Thursday had two parts. In the first half, Obama has so many good points about the change sweeping the Arab world. In fact, I liked what I heard so much that I now feel sorry that he actually gave the speech. Why? Friends and colleagues are convinced that he could not have ignored the Israeli-Palestinian issue — but I wish he had. That’s the problem. In these two speeches, President Obama missed an opportunity to make two distinct points, and that bringing Israel up on Thursday muddled his message.

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