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Clinton Speaks, The World Reacts

Today our editorial team looks at responses from global media to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's speech yesterday at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Charles Cogan: A Modest Proposal

The irony—and the tragedy—is that the solution to the Arab-Israeli problem has been known for the last 40 years. Always, the answer is the same, as shown in the following commentary from The Economist in May 2007: “To arrive at peace, Israel would have to give up the West Bank and share Jerusalem; the Palestinians would have to give up their dream of the right of return and assure the security of Israel as a Jewish state. All the rest is detail.”

There is one detail that should be added to this tableau: the settlement must be accompanied by an international security force, including American and European troops. It would be unthinkable, given Israel’s territorial exiguity, that an international force run by troops from the West would not remain for many years in order to protect against Arab irredentism and Israeli expansionism.

Allowing the Palestinians to return to Israel, even in small numbers, would have a harmful effect on the state of Israel and on the future of that country. Just as the Germans are not going to return to East Prussia, and Mexico is not going to retake California, the Palestinians should not expect to return inside the armistice lines concluded as a result of the 1948–49 War.

The Six Day War of June 1967 constituted a clear break in American policy towards Israel. Before then, American aid to Israel was not excessive. Afterward, the situation was completely reversed, notably in the War of 1973 when the United States, faced with a desperate situation in Israel, sent in extremis and in plain sight a massive resupply of arms and ammunition into Lod Airport, in Tel Aviv, putting paid to the already tattered image of American even-handedness in the Middle East.

For Israel too, 1967 constituted a break with the past.

Jonathan Power: Can Obama Marry the History of Islam with the Politics of Today?

Dante’s portrayal of Muhammad in hell is one of Western literature’s most egregiously racist, not to mention blasphemous, offerings. It leaves Salman Rushdie’s “Satanic Verses” in the shade. Still, until the post-September 11 anti-Muslim backlash and Germany and France’s block on Turkey’s accession to the European Union, there might have been good reason to think that the West was slowly, but surely, getting over its long-rooted prejudice.

Under President George H. W. Bush and his successor, Bill Clinton, America began its earnest attempts, after years of neglect, to woo the Arab peoples. George W. Bush undid all that. Now, in his masterful speech at the University of Cairo, President Barack Obama has not just turned the clock back to better days; rather, he has pushed it forward as fast as anyone could have imagined a year ago. It was a personal triumph for Mr. Obama and, judging by the audience’s reaction and that of millions of Muslims around the world glued to their television sets, a triumph for all living Muslim people. At last, the West’s most important leader has put them on parity with Christian and Jewish peoples. The Muslims themselves may never have doubted the profound intrinsic qualities and virtues of their faith, but Westerners long had. Indeed, Obama’s speech was as much aimed at a home audience as it was to the Islamic world.

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