This week, President Barack Obama is scheduled to give a major address in Cairo to the Muslim world. He is likely to reiterate what he has stated previously to Muslim audiences, that America has no battle with Islam, deeply respects Islam and the Muslim world, and apologizes for any anti-Muslim sentiment that any Americans may express.
Here is what an honest address would sound like:
“Thank you for the honor of addressing the Egyptian people and the wider Muslim world.
“I am here primarily to dispel some of the erroneous beliefs many Muslims have about America and to thereby reassure you that America has no desire to be at war with the Muslim world.
“To my great disappointment, many Muslims have come to believe that my country has declared war on Muslims and Islam.
“Because of this widespread belief, I said in an interview with al-Arabiya a few months ago, that we need to restore “the same respect and partnership that America had with the Muslim world as recently as 20 or 30 years ago.”
“Lets’ look a little deeper at that relationship. For the truth is, as noted by the Pulitzer-Prize winning columnist for the American newspaper the Washington Post, Charles Krauthammer, in the last 20-30 years America did not just respect Muslims, it bled for Muslims. We Americans engaged in five military campaigns on behalf of Muslims, each one resulting in the liberation of a Muslim people: Bosnia, Kosovo, Kuwait, Afghanistan and Iraq.
“Bosnia and Kosovo, as well as the failed 1992-93 Somalia intervention to feed starving African Muslims — in which] 43 Americans were killed — were all humanitarian exercises. In none of them was there a significant U.S. strategic interest at stake. So, in fact, in these 20 years, my country, the United States of America has done more for suffering and oppressed Muslims than any other nation, Muslim or non-Muslim.
“While I recognize that gratitude is the rarest positive human quality, I need to say — because candor is the highest form respect — that America has not only not received little gratitude from the Muslim world, it has been the object of hatred, mass murder, and economic attack from Muslim individuals, groups, and countries.
“Just to cite a few of many examples from the last 40 years:
“In 1973, Muslim terrorists attacked the American embassy in Sudan and murdered our country’s ambassador, Cleo Noel, and the chief deputy of the mission, George C. Moore. Later in 1973, the Arab oil embargo against America sent my country into a long and painful recession. In 1977, Muslim militants murdered the U.S. ambassador to Lebanon, Frances E. Meloy, and Robert O.Waring, the U.S. economic counselor. In 1979 radical Muslims violently attacked my country’s embassy in Teheran, and for 14 months held American diplomats hostage, often in appalling conditions. In 1998, Muslim militants bombed the American embassy in Nairobi, killing 12 Americans and 280 Kenyans, and bombed our embassy in Tanzania, killing another 11 Americans. Then, on Sept. 11, 2001, 19 Muslims who had been living in America slit the throats of American pilots and flight attendants and then flew airplanes into civilian buildings in New York City, burning 3,000 innocent Americans to death.
“So, my friends here in Egypt, between America and the Muslim world, who exactly has been making war on whom?
“I have enormous differences with my predecessor, President George W. Bush. But please remember that less than a week after thousands of Americans were slaughtered in the name of your religion, President Bush went to the Islamic Center in Washington, D.C., and announced that Islam was a religion of peace. Moreover, in a country of 300 million people, of whom only a few million are Muslim, there is virtually no recorded incident of anti-mosque or other anti-Muslim violence despite the butchery of 9/11 and the popular support for Osama Bin Laden that we saw in the Muslim world after 9/11.
“I ask you to please ask yourselves what Egypt’s reaction would have been had 19 Christians, in the name of Christianity, slaughtered 3,000 Egyptians. How would the Christians of Egypt and elsewhere in the Middle East have fared?
“As it is, because of persecution by Muslim majorities, Christians have been leaving the Middle East in such great numbers that for the first time since Christ, there are large parts of the Middle East that have become empty of both Jews and Christians.
“Yet, at the same time, millions of Muslims have moved to Western countries and to America. It is fair to say that the freest, and often the safest, place in the world for a practicing Muslim is the United States of America.
“Muslim-Americans are treated exactly as other Americans are treated. It is exceedingly rare to hear any anti-Muslim bigotry in my country. And while there is some criticism of the Muslim world, but there is far more criticism of Christianity in America than of Islam.
“Unfortunately, in much of the Muslim world today anti-Jewish speeches and writing are frequently identical to the genocidal anti-Semitism one heard and read in Nazi Germany. This is a blight on your civilization. How can you seriously charge that America is at war with Islam when in fact it is much of the Islamic world that is at war with Jews and Christians?
“I know that you would like me to announce that America is abandoning its support for Israel. But every president since Harry Truman, Democrat and Republican, has been passionate about enabling Israel to defend itself from those who wish to destroy it. And that, dear Muslims, is the issue. America will continue to support a two-state solution to the Arab-Israeli dispute, but the issue has never really been about two states. It has always been about Palestinians and other Arabs and Muslims recognizing Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state.
“As a friend of Egypt and of the Muslim world, I want to say something from the bottom of my heart: The day the Arab world ceases obsessing over the existence of a Jewish state the size of Belize will be a great day for the Arab and Muslim worlds. Your obsession with Israel has cost you dearly in every area of social development. This is easily demonstrated. If Israel were destroyed — and the so-called “right of return” of millions of third-generation Palestinian refugees would ensure that outcome as effectively as would a nuclear device from Iran — what difference would that make to the Egyptian economy, to Egyptian lack of freedoms, or anything else that matters to Egyptians? In my opinion, none whatsoever. Preoccupation with Israel has simply enabled the Arab world to not look within for 60 years.
“Finally, my fellow Americans would feel more confident in American-Muslim relations if they had ever seen a large demonstration of Muslims anywhere against all the terror committed by Muslims in the name of Islam — whether in London, Madrid, New York, Bali, Cairo, or Mumbai. The mark of a great civilization — and Arab civilization was indeed once great — is a willingness to criticize itself.
“Thank you again for this opportunity to address you. I could have patronized you by exaggerating American misdeeds and ignoring yours. But I have too much respect for you.