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A new beginning for the United States and Muslims

Guest LAW_*

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Guest LAW_*

We all know that there has been tension between the United States and some Muslim communities. But, as the President said this morning, if all sides face the sources of tension squarely and focus on mutual interests, we can find a new way forward.


The President outlined some big goals for this new beginning in his speech -- including disrupting, dismantling, and defeating violent extremism.

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Guest HUMAN_*

And Many Good Business opportunities for both sides. We must as a society distinguish between the Arab communities that wish to thrive, and those that wish to remain stagnated.


But also understanding that even though our cultures are different, WE ALL SEEK A BETTER LIFE which IS UNIVERSAL.


We all know that there has been tension between the United States and some Muslim communities. But, as the President said this morning, if all sides face the sources of tension squarely and focus on mutual interests, we can find a new way forward.


The President outlined some big goals for this new beginning in his speech -- including disrupting, dismantling, and defeating violent extremism.

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Guest America

Obama said he seeks a new start that is based on mutual interest and mutual respect — “one based upon the truth that America and Islam are not exclusive and need not be in competition. Instead, they overlap, and share common principles, principles of justice and progress; tolerance and the dignity of all human beings.”


“There must be a sustained effort to listen to each other; to learn from each other; to respect one another; and to seek common ground,” Obama said. “So long as our relationship is defined by our differences, we will empower those who sow hatred rather than peace, those who promote conflict rather than cooperation that can help all of our people achieve justice and prosperity. This cycle of suspicion and discord must end.”

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Guest misjudge

I do not harbor any ill will towards America or your new president.I believe you are a great nation with amazing people. I can see that Barack Obama is out to spread Peace and tolerance throughout the world.This is a very good ideal. May God continue to Bless you all as a nation and especially Barack Obama and his family.

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Guest Katie @ Sea

Did America listen - what do you think? We're far too busy making excuses and justifications for our prior bad acts to bother listening and acting like adults.


The older I get the more evident (to me at least) it becomes that as a nation we suffer from almost chronic and perhaps even terminal arrogant adolescence. When I say that I mean we have an alarming inability to understand there are consequences for our actions and that no one (not even us) can be and is always in the right.

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Guest Will Cole

I did feel that this speech was indeed historical, however I certainly wish he had been more specific as to how the settelments would be removed from the West Bank.

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Guest Carey

As a Christian I think we should try to save Islamic people and show them our beliefs, but we are not supposed to promote war and the deaths of thousands of people.

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Guest LAW_*

I think Obama had it right when he stated, "freedom of religion is central to the ability of peoples to live together" and that "faith should bring us together."

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Cairo University

Cairo, Egypt



PRESIDENT OBAMA: Thank you very much. Good afternoon. I am honored to be in the timeless city of Cairo, and to be hosted by two remarkable institutions. For over a thousand years, Al-Azhar has stood as a beacon of Islamic learning; and for over a century, Cairo University has been a source of Egypt's advancement. And together, you represent the harmony between tradition and progress. I'm grateful for your hospitality, and the hospitality of the people of Egypt. And I'm also proud to carry with me the goodwill of the American people, and a greeting of peace from Muslim communities in my country: Assalaamu alaykum. (Applause.)


We meet at a time of great tension between the United States and Muslims around the world -- tension rooted in historical forces that go beyond any current policy debate. The relationship between Islam and the West includes centuries of coexistence and cooperation, but also conflict and religious wars. More recently, tension has been fed by colonialism that denied rights and opportunities to many Muslims, and a Cold War in which Muslim-majority countries were too often treated as proxies without regard to their own aspirations. Moreover, the sweeping change brought by modernity and globalization led many Muslims to view the West as hostile to the traditions of Islam.


Violent extremists have exploited these tensions in a small but potent minority of Muslims. The attacks of September 11, 2001 and the continued efforts of these extremists to engage in violence against civilians has led some in my country to view Islam as inevitably hostile not only to America and Western countries, but also to human rights. All this has bred more fear and more mistrust.


So long as our relationship is defined by our differences, we will empower those who sow hatred rather than peace, those who promote conflict rather than the cooperation that can help all of our people achieve justice and prosperity. And this cycle of suspicion and discord must end.


I've come here to Cairo to seek a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world, one based on mutual interest and mutual respect, and one based upon the truth that America and Islam are not exclusive and need not be in competition. Instead, they overlap, and share common principles -- principles of justice and progress; tolerance and the dignity of all human beings.


I do so recognizing that change cannot happen overnight. I know there's been a lot of publicity about this speech, but no single speech can eradicate years of mistrust, nor can I answer in the time that I have this afternoon all the complex questions that brought us to this point. But I am convinced that in order to move forward, we must say openly to each other the things we hold in our hearts and that too often are said only behind closed doors. There must be a sustained effort to listen to each other; to learn from each other; to respect one another; and to seek common ground. As the Holy Koran tells us, "Be conscious of God and speak always the truth." (Applause.) That is what I will try to do today -- to speak the truth as best I can, humbled by the task before us, and firm in my belief that the interests we share as human beings are far more powerful than the forces that drive us apart.


Now part of this conviction is rooted in my own experience. I'm a Christian, but my father came from a Kenyan family that includes generations of Muslims. As a boy, I spent several years in Indonesia and heard the call of the azaan at the break of dawn and at the fall of dusk. As a young man, I worked in Chicago communities where many found dignity and peace in their Muslim faith.


As a student of history, I also know civilization's debt to Islam. It was Islam -- at places like Al-Azhar -- that carried the light of learning through so many centuries, paving the way for Europe's Renaissance and Enlightenment. It was innovation in Muslim communities -- (applause) -- it was innovation in Muslim communities that developed the order of algebra; our magnetic compass and tools of navigation; our mastery of pens and printing; our understanding of how disease spreads and how it can be healed. Islamic culture has given us majestic arches and soaring spires; timeless poetry and cherished music; elegant calligraphy and places of peaceful contemplation. And throughout history, Islam has demonstrated through words and deeds the possibilities of religious tolerance and racial equality. (Applause.)


I also know that Islam has always been a part of America's story. The first nation to recognize my country was Morocco. In signing the Treaty of Tripoli in 1796, our second President, John Adams, wrote, "The United States has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion or tranquility of Muslims." And since our founding, American Muslims have enriched the United States. They have fought in our wars, they have served in our government, they have stood for civil rights, they have started businesses, they have taught at our universities, they've excelled in our sports arenas, they've won Nobel Prizes, built our tallest building, and lit the Olympic Torch. And when the first Muslim American was recently elected to Congress, he took the oath to defend our Constitution using the same Holy Koran that one of our Founding Fathers -- Thomas Jefferson -- kept in his personal library. (Applause.)


So I have known Islam on three continents before coming to the region where it was first revealed. That experience guides my conviction that partnership between America and Islam must be based on what Islam is, not what it isn't. And I consider it part of my responsibility as President of the United States to fight against negative stereotypes of Islam wherever they appear. (Applause.)


But that same principle must apply to Muslim perceptions of America. (Applause.) Just as Muslims do not fit a crude stereotype, America is not the crude stereotype of a self-interested empire. The United States has been one of the greatest sources of progress that the world has ever known. We were born out of revolution against an empire. We were founded upon the ideal that all are created equal, and we have shed blood and struggled for centuries to give meaning to those words -- within our borders, and around the world. We are shaped by every culture, drawn from every end of the Earth, and dedicated to a simple concept: E pluribus unum -- "Out of many, one."


Now, much has been made of the fact that an African American with the name Barack Hussein Obama could be elected President. (Applause.) But my personal story is not so unique. The dream of opportunity for all people has not come true for everyone in America, but its promise exists for all who come to our shores -- and that includes nearly 7 million American Muslims in our country today who, by the way, enjoy incomes and educational levels that are higher than the American average. (Applause.)


Moreover, freedom in America is indivisible from the freedom to practice one's religion. That is why there is a mosque in every state in our union, and over 1,200 mosques within our borders. That's why the United States government has gone to court to protect the right of women and girls to wear the hijab and to punish those who would deny it. (Applause.)


So let there be no doubt: Islam is a part of America. And I believe that America holds within her the truth that regardless of race, religion, or station in life, all of us share common aspirations -- to live in peace and security; to get an education and to work with dignity; to love our families, our communities, and our God. These things we share. This is the hope of all humanity.


Of course, recognizing our common humanity is only the beginning of our task. Words alone cannot meet the needs of our people. These needs will be met only if we act boldly in the years ahead; and if we understand that the challenges we face are shared, and our failure to meet them will hurt us all.


For we have learned from recent experience that when a financial system weakens in one country, prosperity is hurt everywhere. When a new flu infects one human being, all are at risk. When one nation pursues a nuclear weapon, the risk of nuclear attack rises for all nations. When violent extremists operate in one stretch of mountains, people are endangered across an ocean. When innocents in Bosnia and Darfur are slaughtered, that is a stain on our collective conscience. (Applause.) That is what it means to share this world in the 21st century. That is the responsibility we have to one another as human beings.


And this is a difficult responsibility to embrace. For human history has often been a record of nations and tribes -- and, yes, religions -- subjugating one another in pursuit of their own interests. Yet in this new age, such attitudes are self-defeating. Given our interdependence, any world order that elevates one nation or group of people over another will inevitably fail. So whatever we think of the past, we must not be prisoners to it. Our problems must be dealt with through partnership; our progress must be shared. (Applause.)


Now, that does not mean we should ignore sources of tension. Indeed, it suggests the opposite: We must face these tensions squarely. And so in that spirit, let me speak as clearly and as plainly as I can about some specific issues that I believe we must finally confront together.


The first issue that we have to confront is violent extremism in all of its forms.


In Ankara, I made clear that America is not -- and never will be -- at war with Islam. (Applause.) We will, however, relentlessly confront violent extremists who pose a grave threat to our security -- because we reject the same thing that people of all faiths reject: the killing of innocent men, women, and children. And it is my first duty as President to protect the American people.


The situation in Afghanistan demonstrates America's goals, and our need to work together. Over seven years ago, the United States pursued al Qaeda and the Taliban with broad international support. We did not go by choice; we went because of necessity. I'm aware that there's still some who would question or even justify the events of 9/11. But let us be clear: Al Qaeda killed nearly 3,000 people on that day. The victims were innocent men, women and children from America and many other nations who had done nothing to harm anybody. And yet al Qaeda chose to ruthlessly murder these people, claimed credit for the attack, and even now states their determination to kill on a massive scale. They have affiliates in many countries and are trying to expand their reach. These are not opinions to be debated; these are facts to be dealt with.


Now, make no mistake: We do not want to keep our troops in Afghanistan. We see no military -- we seek no military bases there. It is agonizing for America to lose our young men and women. It is costly and politically difficult to continue this conflict. We would gladly bring every single one of our troops home if we could be confident that there were not violent extremists in Afghanistan and now Pakistan determined to kill as many Americans as they possibly can. But that is not yet the case.


And that's why we're partnering with a coalition of 46 countries. And despite the costs involved, America's commitment will not weaken. Indeed, none of us should tolerate these extremists. They have killed in many countries. They have killed people of different faiths -- but more than any other, they have killed Muslims. Their actions are irreconcilable with the rights of human beings, the progress of nations, and with Islam. The Holy Koran teaches that whoever kills an innocent is as -- it is as if he has killed all mankind. (Applause.) And the Holy Koran also says whoever saves a person, it is as if he has saved all mankind. (Applause.) The enduring faith of over a billion people is so much bigger than the narrow hatred of a few. Islam is not part of the problem in combating violent extremism -- it is an important part of promoting peace.


Now, we also know that military power alone is not going to solve the problems in Afghanistan and Pakistan. That's why we plan to invest $1.5 billion each year over the next five years to partner with Pakistanis to build schools and hospitals, roads and businesses, and hundreds of millions to help those who've been displaced. That's why we are providing more than $2.8 billion to help Afghans develop their economy and deliver services that people depend on.


Let me also address the issue of Iraq. Unlike Afghanistan, Iraq was a war of choice that provoked strong differences in my country and around the world. Although I believe that the Iraqi people are ultimately better off without the tyranny of Saddam Hussein, I also believe that events in Iraq have reminded America of the need to use diplomacy and build international consensus to resolve our problems whenever possible. (Applause.) Indeed, we can recall the words of Thomas Jefferson, who said: "I hope that our wisdom will grow with our power, and teach us that the less we use our power the greater it will be."


Today, America has a dual responsibility: to help Iraq forge a better future -- and to leave Iraq to Iraqis. And I have made it clear to the Iraqi people -- (applause) -- I have made it clear to the Iraqi people that we pursue no bases, and no claim on their territory or resources. Iraq's sovereignty is its own. And that's why I ordered the removal of our combat brigades by next August. That is why we will honor our agreement with Iraq's democratically elected government to remove combat troops from Iraqi cities by July, and to remove all of our troops from Iraq by 2012. (Applause.) We will help Iraq train its security forces and develop its economy. But we will support a secure and united Iraq as a partner, and never as a patron.


And finally, just as America can never tolerate violence by extremists, we must never alter or forget our principles. Nine-eleven was an enormous trauma to our country. The fear and anger that it provoked was understandable, but in some cases, it led us to act contrary to our traditions and our ideals. We are taking concrete actions to change course. I have unequivocally prohibited the use of torture by the United States, and I have ordered the prison at Guantanamo Bay closed by early next year. (Applause.)


So America will defend itself, respectful of the sovereignty of nations and the rule of law. And we will do so in partnership with Muslim communities which are also threatened. The sooner the extremists are isolated and unwelcome in Muslim communities, the sooner we will all be safer.


The second major source of tension that we need to discuss is the situation between Israelis, Palestinians and the Arab world.


America's strong bonds with Israel are well known. This bond is unbreakable. It is based upon cultural and historical ties, and the recognition that the aspiration for a Jewish homeland is rooted in a tragic history that cannot be denied.


Around the world, the Jewish people were persecuted for centuries, and anti-Semitism in Europe culminated in an unprecedented Holocaust. Tomorrow, I will visit Buchenwald, which was part of a network of camps where Jews were enslaved, tortured, shot and gassed to death by the Third Reich. Six million Jews were killed -- more than the entire Jewish population of Israel today. Denying that fact is baseless, it is ignorant, and it is hateful. Threatening Israel with destruction -- or repeating vile stereotypes about Jews -- is deeply wrong, and only serves to evoke in the minds of Israelis this most painful of memories while preventing the peace that the people of this region deserve.


On the other hand, it is also undeniable that the Palestinian people -- Muslims and Christians -- have suffered in pursuit of a homeland. For more than 60 years they've endured the pain of dislocation. Many wait in refugee camps in the West Bank, Gaza, and neighboring lands for a life of peace and security that they have never been able to lead. They endure the daily humiliations -- large and small -- that come with occupation. So let there be no doubt: The situation for the Palestinian people is intolerable. And America will not turn our backs on the legitimate Palestinian aspiration for dignity, opportunity, and a state of their own. (Applause.)


For decades then, there has been a stalemate: two peoples with legitimate aspirations, each with a painful history that makes compromise elusive. It's easy to point fingers -- for Palestinians to point to the displacement brought about by Israel's founding, and for Israelis to point to the constant hostility and attacks throughout its history from within its borders as well as beyond. But if we see this conflict only from one side or the other, then we will be blind to the truth: The only resolution is for the aspirations of both sides to be met through two states, where Israelis and Palestinians each live in peace and security. (Applause.)


That is in Israel's interest, Palestine's interest, America's interest, and the world's interest. And that is why I intend to personally pursue this outcome with all the patience and dedication that the task requires. (Applause.) The obligations -- the obligations that the parties have agreed to under the road map are clear. For peace to come, it is time for them -- and all of us -- to live up to our responsibilities.


Palestinians must abandon violence. Resistance through violence and killing is wrong and it does not succeed. For centuries, black people in America suffered the lash of the whip as slaves and the humiliation of segregation. But it was not violence that won full and equal rights. It was a peaceful and determined insistence upon the ideals at the center of America's founding. This same story can be told by people from South Africa to South Asia; from Eastern Europe to Indonesia. It's a story with a simple truth: that violence is a dead end. It is a sign neither of courage nor power to shoot rockets at sleeping children, or to blow up old women on a bus. That's not how moral authority is claimed; that's how it is surrendered.


Now is the time for Palestinians to focus on what they can build. The Palestinian Authority must develop its capacity to govern, with institutions that serve the needs of its people. Hamas does have support among some Palestinians, but they also have to recognize they have responsibilities. To play a role in fulfilling Palestinian aspirations, to unify the Palestinian people, Hamas must put an end to violence, recognize past agreements, recognize Israel's right to exist.


At the same time, Israelis must acknowledge that just as Israel's right to exist cannot be denied, neither can Palestine's. The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements. (Applause.) This construction violates previous agreements and undermines efforts to achieve peace. It is time for these settlements to stop. (Applause.)


And Israel must also live up to its obligation to ensure that Palestinians can live and work and develop their society. Just as it devastates Palestinian families, the continuing humanitarian crisis in Gaza does not serve Israel's security; neither does the continuing lack of opportunity in the West Bank. Progress in the daily lives of the Palestinian people must be a critical part of a road to peace, and Israel must take concrete steps to enable such progress.


And finally, the Arab states must recognize that the Arab Peace Initiative was an important beginning, but not the end of their responsibilities. The Arab-Israeli conflict should no longer be used to distract the people of Arab nations from other problems. Instead, it must be a cause for action to help the Palestinian people develop the institutions that will sustain their state, to recognize Israel's legitimacy, and to choose progress over a self-defeating focus on the past.


America will align our policies with those who pursue peace, and we will say in public what we say in private to Israelis and Palestinians and Arabs. (Applause.) We cannot impose peace. But privately, many Muslims recognize that Israel will not go away. Likewise, many Israelis recognize the need for a Palestinian state. It is time for us to act on what everyone knows to be true.


Too many tears have been shed. Too much blood has been shed. All of us have a responsibility to work for the day when the mothers of Israelis and Palestinians can see their children grow up without fear; when the Holy Land of the three great faiths is the place of peace that God intended it to be; when Jerusalem is a secure and lasting home for Jews and Christians and Muslims, and a place for all of the children of Abraham to mingle peacefully together as in the story of Isra -- (applause) -- as in the story of Isra, when Moses, Jesus, and Mohammed, peace be upon them, joined in prayer. (Applause.)


The third source of tension is our shared interest in the rights and responsibilities of nations on nuclear weapons.


This issue has been a source of tension between the United States and the Islamic Republic of Iran. For many years, Iran has defined itself in part by its opposition to my country, and there is in fact a tumultuous history between us. In the middle of the Cold War, the United States played a role in the overthrow of a democratically elected Iranian government. Since the Islamic Revolution, Iran has played a role in acts of hostage-taking and violence against U.S. troops and civilians. This history is well known. Rather than remain trapped in the past, I've made it clear to Iran's leaders and people that my country is prepared to move forward. The question now is not what Iran is against, but rather what future it wants to build.


I recognize it will be hard to overcome decades of mistrust, but we will proceed with courage, rectitude, and resolve. There will be many issues to discuss between our two countries, and we are willing to move forward without preconditions on the basis of mutual respect. But it is clear to all concerned that when it comes to nuclear weapons, we have reached a decisive point. This is not simply about America's interests. It's about preventing a nuclear arms race in the Middle East that could lead this region and the world down a hugely dangerous path.


I understand those who protest that some countries have weapons that others do not. No single nation should pick and choose which nation holds nuclear weapons. And that's why I strongly reaffirmed America's commitment to seek a world in which no nations hold nuclear weapons. (Applause.) And any nation -- including Iran -- should have the right to access peaceful nuclear power if it complies with its responsibilities under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. That commitment is at the core of the treaty, and it must be kept for all who fully abide by it. And I'm hopeful that all countries in the region can share in this goal.


The fourth issue that I will address is democracy. (Applause.)


I know -- I know there has been controversy about the promotion of democracy in recent years, and much of this controversy is connected to the war in Iraq. So let me be clear: No system of government can or should be imposed by one nation by any other.


That does not lessen my commitment, however, to governments that reflect the will of the people. Each nation gives life to this principle in its own way, grounded in the traditions of its own people. America does not presume to know what is best for everyone, just as we would not presume to pick the outcome of a peaceful election. But I do have an unyielding belief that all people yearn for certain things: the ability to speak your mind and have a say in how you are governed; confidence in the rule of law and the equal administration of justice; government that is transparent and doesn't steal from the people; the freedom to live as you choose. These are not just American ideas; they are human rights. And that is why we will support them everywhere. (Applause.)


Now, there is no straight line to realize this promise. But this much is clear: Governments that protect these rights are ultimately more stable, successful and secure. Suppressing ideas never succeeds in making them go away. America respects the right of all peaceful and law-abiding voices to be heard around the world, even if we disagree with them. And we will welcome all elected, peaceful governments -- provided they govern with respect for all their people.


This last point is important because there are some who advocate for democracy only when they're out of power; once in power, they are ruthless in suppressing the rights of others. (Applause.) So no matter where it takes hold, government of the people and by the people sets a single standard for all who would hold power: You must maintain your power through consent, not coercion; you must respect the rights of minorities, and participate with a spirit of tolerance and compromise; you must place the interests of your people and the legitimate workings of the political process above your party. Without these ingredients, elections alone do not make true democracy.


AUDIENCE MEMBER: Barack Obama, we love you!


PRESIDENT OBAMA: Thank you. (Applause.) The fifth issue that we must address together is religious freedom.


Islam has a proud tradition of tolerance. We see it in the history of Andalusia and Cordoba during the Inquisition. I saw it firsthand as a child in Indonesia, where devout Christians worshiped freely in an overwhelmingly Muslim country. That is the spirit we need today. People in every country should be free to choose and live their faith based upon the persuasion of the mind and the heart and the soul. This tolerance is essential for religion to thrive, but it's being challenged in many different ways.


Among some Muslims, there's a disturbing tendency to measure one's own faith by the rejection of somebody else's faith. The richness of religious diversity must be upheld -- whether it is for Maronites in Lebanon or the Copts in Egypt. (Applause.) And if we are being honest, fault lines must be closed among Muslims, as well, as the divisions between Sunni and Shia have led to tragic violence, particularly in Iraq.


Freedom of religion is central to the ability of peoples to live together. We must always examine the ways in which we protect it. For instance, in the United States, rules on charitable giving have made it harder for Muslims to fulfill their religious obligation. That's why I'm committed to working with American Muslims to ensure that they can fulfill zakat.


Likewise, it is important for Western countries to avoid impeding Muslim citizens from practicing religion as they see fit -- for instance, by dictating what clothes a Muslim woman should wear. We can't disguise hostility towards any religion behind the pretence of liberalism.


In fact, faith should bring us together. And that's why we're forging service projects in America to bring together Christians, Muslims, and Jews. That's why we welcome efforts like Saudi Arabian King Abdullah's interfaith dialogue and Turkey's leadership in the Alliance of Civilizations. Around the world, we can turn dialogue into interfaith service, so bridges between peoples lead to action -- whether it is combating malaria in Africa, or providing relief after a natural disaster.


The sixth issue -- the sixth issue that I want to address is women's rights. (Applause.) I know –- I know -- and you can tell from this audience, that there is a healthy debate about this issue. I reject the view of some in the West that a woman who chooses to cover her hair is somehow less equal, but I do believe that a woman who is denied an education is denied equality. (Applause.) And it is no coincidence that countries where women are well educated are far more likely to be prosperous.


Now, let me be clear: Issues of women's equality are by no means simply an issue for Islam. In Turkey, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia, we've seen Muslim-majority countries elect a woman to lead. Meanwhile, the struggle for women's equality continues in many aspects of American life, and in countries around the world.


I am convinced that our daughters can contribute just as much to society as our sons. (Applause.) Our common prosperity will be advanced by allowing all humanity -- men and women -- to reach their full potential. I do not believe that women must make the same choices as men in order to be equal, and I respect those women who choose to live their lives in traditional roles. But it should be their choice. And that is why the United States will partner with any Muslim-majority country to support expanded literacy for girls, and to help young women pursue employment through micro-financing that helps people live their dreams. (Applause.)


Finally, I want to discuss economic development and opportunity.


I know that for many, the face of globalization is contradictory. The Internet and television can bring knowledge and information, but also offensive sexuality and mindless violence into the home. Trade can bring new wealth and opportunities, but also huge disruptions and change in communities. In all nations -- including America -- this change can bring fear. Fear that because of modernity we lose control over our economic choices, our politics, and most importantly our identities -- those things we most cherish about our communities, our families, our traditions, and our faith.


But I also know that human progress cannot be denied. There need not be contradictions between development and tradition. Countries like Japan and South Korea grew their economies enormously while maintaining distinct cultures. The same is true for the astonishing progress within Muslim-majority countries from Kuala Lumpur to Dubai. In ancient times and in our times, Muslim communities have been at the forefront of innovation and education.



And this is important because no development strategy can be based only upon what comes out of the ground, nor can it be sustained while young people are out of work. Many Gulf states have enjoyed great wealth as a consequence of oil, and some are beginning to focus it on broader development. But all of us must recognize that education and innovation will be the currency of the 21st century -- (applause) -- and in too many Muslim communities, there remains underinvestment in these areas. I'm emphasizing such investment within my own country. And while America in the past has focused on oil and gas when it comes to this part of the world, we now seek a broader engagement.


On education, we will expand exchange programs, and increase scholarships, like the one that brought my father to America. (Applause.) At the same time, we will encourage more Americans to study in Muslim communities. And we will match promising Muslim students with internships in America; invest in online learning for teachers and children around the world; and create a new online network, so a young person in Kansas can communicate instantly with a young person in Cairo.


On economic development, we will create a new corps of business volunteers to partner with counterparts in Muslim-majority countries. And I will host a Summit on Entrepreneurship this year to identify how we can deepen ties between business leaders, foundations and social entrepreneurs in the United States and Muslim communities around the world.


On science and technology, we will launch a new fund to support technological development in Muslim-majority countries, and to help transfer ideas to the marketplace so they can create more jobs. We'll open centers of scientific excellence in Africa, the Middle East and Southeast Asia, and appoint new science envoys to collaborate on programs that develop new sources of energy, create green jobs, digitize records, clean water, grow new crops. Today I'm announcing a new global effort with the Organization of the Islamic Conference to eradicate polio. And we will also expand partnerships with Muslim communities to promote child and maternal health.


All these things must be done in partnership. Americans are ready to join with citizens and governments; community organizations, religious leaders, and businesses in Muslim communities around the world to help our people pursue a better life.


The issues that I have described will not be easy to address. But we have a responsibility to join together on behalf of the world that we seek -- a world where extremists no longer threaten our people, and American troops have come home; a world where Israelis and Palestinians are each secure in a state of their own, and nuclear energy is used for peaceful purposes; a world where governments serve their citizens, and the rights of all God's children are respected. Those are mutual interests. That is the world we seek. But we can only achieve it together.


I know there are many -- Muslim and non-Muslim -- who question whether we can forge this new beginning. Some are eager to stoke the flames of division, and to stand in the way of progress. Some suggest that it isn't worth the effort -- that we are fated to disagree, and civilizations are doomed to clash. Many more are simply skeptical that real change can occur. There's so much fear, so much mistrust that has built up over the years. But if we choose to be bound by the past, we will never move forward. And I want to particularly say this to young people of every faith, in every country -- you, more than anyone, have the ability to reimagine the world, to remake this world.


All of us share this world for but a brief moment in time. The question is whether we spend that time focused on what pushes us apart, or whether we commit ourselves to an effort -- a sustained effort -- to find common ground, to focus on the future we seek for our children, and to respect the dignity of all human beings.


It's easier to start wars than to end them. It's easier to blame others than to look inward. It's easier to see what is different about someone than to find the things we share. But we should choose the right path, not just the easy path. There's one rule that lies at the heart of every religion -- that we do unto others as we would have them do unto us. (Applause.) This truth transcends nations and peoples -- a belief that isn't new; that isn't black or white or brown; that isn't Christian or Muslim or Jew. It's a belief that pulsed in the cradle of civilization, and that still beats in the hearts of billions around the world. It's a faith in other people, and it's what brought me here today.


We have the power to make the world we seek, but only if we have the courage to make a new beginning, keeping in mind what has been written.


The Holy Koran tells us: "O mankind! We have created you male and a female; and we have made you into nations and tribes so that you may know one another."


The Talmud tells us: "The whole of the Torah is for the purpose of promoting peace."


The Holy Bible tells us: "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God." (Applause.)


The people of the world can live together in peace. We know that is God's vision. Now that must be our work here on Earth.


Thank you. And may God's peace be upon you. Thank you very much. Thank you. (Applause.)



2:05 P.M. (Local)

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Guest Al Gomhouria

The question which poses itself now is what could be offered by the Arabs to push forward the peace process. Several concessions were made by the Arabs while the Israeli side, that attacks, assassinates and builds the separation wall and settlements, did not offer any concessions. Obama, unfortunately, did not say one word for the massacre of Gaza in his speech.


To extract concessions from the Arabs and Palestinians who have nothing more to offer is a continuation of the same game of wasting time.

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Guest Sabri Rbeihat

It is not enough at this time to accept each other and we should also respect, interact and work together to form of a common future for all of us.

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Guest Sameera Aziz

Violent activities are not perpetrated only by the Palestinians and instead those are simply the reactions to Israel’s actions. Resistance through violence and killing is wrong, but so are Israel’s armed violent actions. President Obama will have to implement a comprehensible peace plan as soon as possible.

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Guest State of Israel

The Government of Israel expresses its hope that this important speech in Cairo will indeed lead to a new period of reconciliation between the Arab and Muslim world and Israel.


We share President Obama's hope that the American effort heralds the beginning of a new era that will bring about an end to the conflict and lead to Arab recognition of Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people, living in peace and security in the Middle East.


Israel is committed to peace and will make every effort to expand the circle of peace while protecting its interests, especially its national security.

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Guest Hindy Abelson

Bless you Obama. Unfortunately many in the world are too blinded by their own insecurities, fears, hysterical and historical paranoia to truly listen to what you really said. You’re a once in a lifetime leader. My only wish is that you stay safe from all of the crazies in the world (including the religious settlers who believe that God (the master real estate agent) gave them title over the land.

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Chief Palestinian Negotiator Dr Saeb Erakat today welcomed President Obama’s Cairo speech, and applauded his strong commitment to the creation of an independent Palestinian state.


“This was a very important speech, in which President Obama reinforced the message that ending the occupation and establishing a viable and independent Palestinian state was in the mutual interest of Palestinians, Israelis and indeed the entire world. Progress towards peace hinges on both parties implementing their obligations under existing agreements,” Dr Erakat said.


“For Palestinians, that means continuing with the progress we have made in the areas of governance, security and financial sector reforms. For Israel, it includes implementing an immediate and comprehensive settlement freeze, including all ‘natural growth’, and lifting all restrictions on freedom of movement for Palestinian goods and people.”


“President Obama’s speech reinforced the international consensus that exists today in support of the two-state solution, and its crucial importance to achieving a comprehensive peace in the region. Israel’s refusal to endorse the two-state solution, or to implement its obligations under existing agreements, remains the key obstacle to moving the peace process forward.”


“President Obama also expressed the need to address the daily injustices that Palestinians face. This includes the dislocation, dispossession and insecurity that millions of Palestinian refugees face, the intolerable realities of Israel’s occupation, especially in Gaza, as well as the importance of Jerusalem to all faiths and peoples, including Palestinian Christians and Muslims.”


“Along with borders, settlements, security, and water, Palestinian refugees and the status of Jerusalem are core permanent status issues whose resolution, in accordance with international law, holds the key to a just and lasting peace in the region.”


“The guidelines are already in place for a just and lasting peace between Palestinians and Israelis. International law, existing UN resolutions and prior agreements all converge around the establishment of a viable and sovereign Palestinian state based on the June 4, 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital, as well as a just and agreed upon solution for Palestinian refugees in accordance with UNGA 194.”


“Palestinians and the international community speak today with one voice in favor of the two-state solution, based on a shared interest in regional stability and comprehensive peace,” Dr. Erakat concluded.


Contact for more information:


Alex Kouttab (English)

Mobile: +972-598-949-161 | akouttab@nsu-pal.org


Wassim Khazmo (English and Arabic)

Mobile: +972-544-626-980 | wkhazmo@nsu-pal.org


Xavier Abu Eid (English and Spanish)

Mobile: +972-598-350-300 | xabueid@nsu-pal.org

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Guest LAW_*

The United Nations established the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) under UN General Assembly Resolution 302 (IV), of 8 December,1949, as a temporary specialized Agency. UNRWA's mandate has been renewed every three years since 1949, and is expected to continue to be renewed pending a just settlement of the refugee problem.


There are several groups and categories of Palestinian refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs): UNRWA-registered 1948 refugees and their descendants, unregistered 1948 refugees and their descendants, internally displaced Palestinians in Israel, and persons displaced as a result of the June 1967 war and their descendants. UNRWA coverage extends to registered Palestine refugees residing in UNRWA's areas of operation in the occupied Palestinian territory, Lebanon, Jordan and the Syrian Arab Republic only, who number 3.8 million in 2001.


For operational purposes, UNRWA has defined Palestine refugee as any person whose "normal place of residence was Palestine during the period 1 June 1946 to 15 May 1948 and who lost both home and means of livelihood as a result of the 1948 Arab-Israeli conflict." Palestine refugees eligible for UNRWA assistance, are mainly persons who fulfil the above definition and descendants of fathers fulfilling the definition.


UNRWA maintains close cooperation with the host governments and Palestinian Authority and liaises with their relevant authorities on matters concerning UNRWA’s operations and the provision of services to the Palestine refugees.

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Guest Widow's Son

The Zionist Federation of Great Britain and Ireland was established in 1899 to campaign for a permanent homeland for the Jewish people. At that time, Palestine was a distant and neglected province of the Turkish Empire with a Jewish population of approximately 50,000.


Theodor Herzl (Hebrew: בנימין זאב הרצל‎, Binyamin Ze'ev Herzl, Hungarian; Herzl Tivadar) (May 2, 1860 — July 3, 1904) was an Austria-Hungarian journalist and the father of modern political Zionism. As the Paris correspondent for Neue Freie Presse, Herzl followed the Dreyfus Affair, a notorious anti-Semitic incident in France in which a French Jewish army captain was falsely convicted of spying for Germany. He witnessed mass rallies in Paris following the Dreyfus trial where many chanted "Death to the Jews!" Herzl came to reject his early ideas regarding Jewish emancipation and assimilation, and to believe that the Jews must remove themselves from Europe and create their own state.


In 1896, Herzl's book Der Judenstaat (German, The Jewish State) was published in Leipzig and Vienna by M. Breitenstein's Verlags-Buchhandlung. It is subtitled with "Versuch einer modernen Lösung der Judenfrage", "Proposal of a modern solution for the Jewish question", and originally called "Address to the Rothschilds" referring to the Rothschild family banking dynasty which was very influential in the realization of a Jewish state in Eretz Yisrael.


Important experiments in colonization have been made, though on the mistaken principle of a gradual infiltration of Jews. An infiltration is bound to end badly. It continues till the inevitable moment when the native population feels itself threatened, and forces the government to stop a further influx of Jews. Immigration is consequently futile unless we have the sovereign right to continue such immigration.” Quoted from The Jewish State, translated by Sylvie d’Avigdor, Nutt, London, 1896, and reprinted by Dover, 1988, p. 95.




Lionel Walter Rothschild, 2nd Baron Rothschild (8 February 1868 – 27 August 1937), a scion of the Rothschild family, was a British banker, politician and zoologist. As an active Zionist and close friend of Chaim Weizmann he worked to formulate the draft declaration for a Jewish homeland in Palestine.


In the Summer of 1914 Great Britain, France, and Russia went to war against Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Turkey. In October 1916 Great Britain, France, and Russia were at the brink of defeat at World War I. Germany offered Great Britain peace terms. Jewish business leaders in Europe and the United States spotted an opportunity to make a deal with the British government. They guaranteed Britain to bring the United States into the war for the promise of Palestine.


November 2nd, 1917.


Dear Lord Rothschild,

I have much pleasure in conveying to you, on behalf of His Majesty's Government, the following declaration of sympathy with Jewish Zionist aspirations which has been submitted to, and approved by, the Cabinet:


"His Majesty's Government view with favor the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavors to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country".


I should be grateful if you would bring this declaration to the knowledge of the Zionist Federation.


Yours sincerely

Arthur James Balfour


The Mandate document as ratified by the League of Nations in 1922 included the text of the Balfour Declaration word for word.


Chaim Azriel Weizmann, Hebrew: חיים עזריאל ויצמן‎, (27 November 1874 – 9 November 1952) was a Zionist leader, President of the World Zionist Organization, and the first President of the State of Israel. He was elected on 1 February 1949, and served until his death in 1952. Weizmann was also a chemist who developed a new process of producing acetone through bacterial fermentation. He founded the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel.


During the next 30 years London became the center of the World Zionist Movement. In the Zionist Federation's home at 77 Great Russell Street the Jewish Agency established its main political office and conducted government negotiations whilst the Zionist Federation secured Jewish and general support as well as financial assistance for the movement.

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Guest LAW_*



The Covenant of the League of Nations

(Including Amendments adopted to December, 1924)




In order to promote international co-operation and to achieve international peace and security


by the acceptance of obligations not to resort to war,

by the prescription of open, just and honourable relations between nations,

by the firm establishment of the understandings of international law as the actual rule of conduct among Governments, and

by the maintenance of justice and a scrupulous respect for all treaty obligations in the dealings of organised peoples with one another,


Agree to this Covenant of the League of Nations.




To those colonies and territories which as a consequence of the late war have ceased to be under the sovereignty of the States which formerly governed them and which are inhabited by peoples not yet able to stand by themselves under the strenuous conditions of the modern world, there should be applied the principle that the well-being and development of such peoples form a sacred trust of civilisation and that securities for the performance of this trust should be embodied in this Covenant.


The best method of giving practical effect to this principle is that the tutelage of such peoples should be entrusted to advanced nations who by reason of their resources, their experience or their geographical position can best undertake this responsibility, and who are willing to accept it, and that this tutelage should be exercised by them as Mandatories on behalf of the League.


The character of the mandate must differ according to the stage of the development of the people, the geographical situation of the territory, its economic conditions and other similar circumstances.


Certain communities formerly belonging to the Turkish Empire have reached a stage of development where their existence as independent nations can be provisionally recognized subject to the rendering of administrative advice and assistance by a Mandatory until such time as they are able to stand alone. The wishes of these communities must be a principal consideration in the selection of the Mandatory.


Other peoples, especially those of Central Africa, are at such a stage that the Mandatory must be responsible for the administration of the territory under conditions which will guarantee freedom of conscience and religion, subject only to the maintenance of public order and morals, the prohibition of abuses such as the slave trade, the arms traffic and the liquor traffic, and the prevention of the establishment of fortifications or military and naval bases and of military training of the natives for other than police purposes and the defence of territory, and will also secure equal opportunities for the trade and commerce of other Members of the League.


There are territories, such as South-West Africa and certain of the South Pacific Islands, which, owing to the sparseness of their population, or their small size, or their remoteness from the centres of civilisation, or their geographical contiguity to the territory of the Mandatory, and other circumstances, can be best administered under the laws of the Mandatory as integral portions of its territory, subject to the safeguards above mentioned in the interests of the indigenous population.


In every case of mandate, the Mandatory shall render to the Council an annual report in reference to the territory committed to its charge.


The degree of authority, control, or administration to be exercised by the Mandatory shall, if not previously agreed upon by the Members of the League, be explicitly defined in each case by the Council.


A permanent Commission shall be constituted to receive and examine the annual reports of the Mandatories and to advise the Council on all matters relating to the observance of the mandates.



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Guest Widow's Son

Arthur James Balfour, 1st Earl of Balfour, KG, OM, PC, DL (25 July 1848 – 19 March 1930) was a British Conservative politician and statesman. He authored the tough Perpetual Crimes Act (1887) (or Coercion Act) aimed at the prevention of boycotting, intimidation, unlawful assembly in Ireland during the Irish Land War, and was the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1902 to 1905, a time when his party and government became divided over the issue of tariff reform. Later, as Foreign Secretary, he authored the Balfour Declaration of 1917, which supported the establishment of a Jewish homeland in Palestine.


In l909, a meeting took place in Manchester, England between Chaim Weizmann and Lord Balfour:


Balfour asked Weizmann:


"Why should Palestine - and Palestine alone - be the basis for Zionism?


"Anything else would be idolatry!" Weizmann protested, adding: "Mr. Balfour, supposing I were to offer you Paris instead of London. Would you take it?"


"But, Dr. Weizmann," Balfour retorted. "We already have London."


Weizmann rejoined: "That is true, but we had Jerusalem when London was a merely a marsh."

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Guest Widow's Son

Louis D. Brandeis (November 13, 1856 – October 5, 1941) was a United States Supreme Court Justice from 1916 to 1939. He grew up in Louisville, Kentucky to Jewish parents who had immigrated from Europe. He enrolled at Harvard Law School, graduating at the age of twenty and earned the highest grade average in the college’s history.


Brandeis began to support Wilson, and urged his friends and associates to fall behind him. According to Piott, "Brandeis, who was nominally a Republican, cast his support behind Democrat Woodrow Wilson, feeling that he and Wilson were kindred spirits in their economic and moral philosophies."


In 1916, President Wilson nominated Brandeis to become a member of the U.S. Supreme Court. However, his nomination was bitterly contested, partly because, as Justice William O. Douglas wrote, “Brandeis was a militant crusader for social justice whoever his opponent might be. He was dangerous not only because of his brilliance, his arithmetic, his courage. He was dangerous because he was incorruptible. . . [and] the fears of the Establishment were greater because Brandeis was the first Jew to be named to the Court." He was eventually confirmed and would become one of the most famous and influential figures ever to serve on it. His case opinions were, according to legal scholars, some of the “greatest defenses” of freedom of speech and the right to privacy ever written by a member of the high court.


Brandeis also became a prominent American Zionist, and felt that the re-creation of a Jewish national homeland was one of the key solutions to the "Jewish problem" of antisemitism in Europe and Russia, while at the same time being a way to "revive the Jewish spirit." He explained his belief in the importance of Zionism in a speech he gave in 1915:


The Zionists seek to establish this home in Palestine because they are convinced that the undying longing of Jews for Palestine is a fact of deepest significance; that it is a manifestation in the struggle for existence by an ancient people which has established its right to live, a people whose three thousand years of civilization has produced a faith, culture and individuality which enable it to contribute largely in the future, as it has in the past, to the advance of civilization; and that it is not a right merely but a duty of the Jewish nationality to survive and develop. They believe that only in Palestine can Jewish life be fully protected from the forces of disintegration; that there alone can the Jewish spirit reach its full and natural development; and that by securing for those Jews who wish to settle there the opportunity to do so, not only those Jews, but all other Jews will be benefited, and that the long perplexing Jewish Problem will, at last, find solution.


Brandeis became active in the Federation of American Zionists as a result. With the outbreak of World War I, the Zionist movement's headquarters in Berlin became ineffectual, and American Jewry had to assume larger responsibility for the Zionist movement. When the Provisional Executive Committee for Zionist Affairs was established in New York, Brandeis accepted unanimous election to be its head. In this position from 1914 to 1918, Brandeis was the leader of American Zionism. Brandeis embarked on a speaking tour in the fall and winter of 1914-1915 to support the Zionist cause, emphasizing the goal of self-determination and freedom for Jews through the development of a Jewish homeland.


Brandeis brought his influence in the Woodrow Wilson administration to bear in the negotiations leading up to the Balfour Declaration. Brandeis split with the European branch of Zionism, led by Chaim Weizmann, and resigned his leadership role in 1921. He retained membership, however, and remained active in Zionism until the end of his life.

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Guest Dorian

Source: David Lloyd George, Memoirs of the Peace Conference, Volume II, New Haven, Yale University Press 1939; (ch. XXIII).


Lloyd George, Prime Minister at the time, explains why Britain made "a contract with Jewry" in 1917


{p. 721}


THE intention of the Allied Powers regarding the future of Palestine up to the end of 1916 are practically embodied in the Sykes-Picot Agreement. The country was to be mutilated and torn into sections. There would be no more Palestine. Canaan was to be drawn and quartered. But 1917 saw a complete change in the attitude of the nations towards this historic land. It was no longer the end of a pipe-line here, the terminus of a railway there, a huddled collection of shrines over which Christian and Moslem sects wrangled under the protection of three great powers in every quarter. It was a historic and a sacred land, throbbing from Dan to Beersheba with immortal traditions, the homeland of a spiritual outlook and faith professed by hundreds of millions of the human race and fashioning more and more the destinies of mankind. The carving knife of the Sykes-Picot Agreement was a crude hacking of a Holy Land. At the beginning of the War, Palestine was not in the picture. The mind of the Great Powers was on Belgium, Poland and Austria. The destiny of Palestine was left to the haggling of experts in the various Foreign Offices of the Allies.


In 1915 and 1916, Britain massed huge armies to check the menace of the Turk on the Suez Canal. At first they crawled drearily and without purpose across the desert towards the land of the Philistines. But in 1917, the attention of her warriors was drawn to the mountains of Judea beyond. The zeal of the Crusaders was relumed in their soul. The redemption of Palestine from the withering aggression of the Turk became like a pillar of flame to lead them on. The Sykes-Picot Agreement perished in its fire. It was not worth fighting for Canaan in order to condemn it to the fate of Agag and hew it in pieces before the Lord.


{p. 722}


Palestine, if recaptured, must be one and indivisible to renew its greatness as a living entity.


The next factor which produced a momentous change was the decision to come to terms with Jewry, which was clamouring for an opportunity to make Canaan once more the homeland of their race. There are more Irishmen living outside Ireland than dwell in the old country. Still, Ireland is the homeland of the Irish people. No one imagined that the 14,000,000 of Jews scattered over the globe could find room and a living in Palestine. Nevertheless this race of wanderers sought a national hearth and a refuge for the hunted children of Israel in the country which the splendour of their spiritual genius has made forever glorious.


It seems strange to say that the Germans were the first to realise the war value of the Jews of the dispersal. In Poland it was they who helped the German Army to conquer the Czarist oppressor who had so cruelly persecuted their race. They had their influence in other lands - notably in America, where some of their most powerful leaders exerted a retarding influence on President Wilson's impulses in the direction of the Allies. {ed. - before the Balfour Declaration} The German General Staff in 1916 urged the Turks to concede the demands of the Zionists in respect of Palestine. Fortunately the Turk was too stupid to understand or too sluggish to move. The fact that Britain at last opened her eyes to the opportunity afforded to the Allies to rally this powerful people to their side was attributable to the initiative, the assiduity and the fervour of one of the greatest Hebrews of all time: Dr. Chaim Weizmann. He found his opportunity in this War of Nations to advance the cause to which he had consecrated his life. Dr. Weizmann enlisted my adhesion to his ideals at a time when, at my reguest, he was successfully applying his scientific skill and imagination to save Britain from a real disaster over the failure of wood alcohol for the manufacture of cordite. In addition to the gratitude I felt for him for this service, he appealed to my deep reverence for the great men of his race who were the authors of the sublime literature upon which I was brought up. I introduced him to Mr. Balfour, who was won over completely by his charm, his persuasiveness and his intellectual power. Dr. Weizmann then


{p. 723}


brought to his aid the eager and active influence of Lord Milner, Lord Robert Cecil, and General Smuts.


During the summer of 1917, Mr. Balfour, with my zealous assent as Prime Minister, entered into negotiations with Lord Rothschild on the subject of the Zionist aims. Ultimately it is recorded that the War Cabinet on September 3rd, 1917, "had under consideration correspondence which had passed between the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and Lord Rothschild on the question of the policy to be adopted towards the Zionist movement." That policy was after prolonged enquiry and reflexion decided by the Cabinet on merits, and I have no doubt in my mind that some such provision would by common consent of all the Allied Powers have been inserted in the Peace Treaty even had there been no previous pledge or promise. But the actual time of the declaration was determined by considerations of war policy. It was part of our propagandist strategy for mobilizing every opinion and force throughout the world which would weaken the enemy and improve the Allied chances. Propaganda on both sides probably played a greater part in the last war than in any other. As an illustration I might take the public declarations we made of the Allied intention to liberate and confer self-government on nationalities inside the enemy Empires, - Turkey, Germany, and Austria. These announcements were intended to have a propagandist effect, not only at home, but also in neutral countries and perhaps most of all in enemy countries.


On principle, the democratic Powers of Europe and America had always advocated emancipation of the subject races held down by the great Empires. {ed.: what a lie: the Empires, on the contrary, had engulfed the whole world} But we were also aware that the proclamation of liberation as part of our war aims would help to disintegrate the solidarity of the enemy countries, and so it did. It would have the effect of detaching from the governing races in those countries Poles, Alsace-Lorrainers, Czechoslovakians, Croatians, Roumans and Arabs dwelling within the boundaries of the Central Empires.


The Allies redeemed the promises made in these declarations to the full. No race has done better out of the fidelity with which the Allies redeemed their promises to the oppressed races than


{p. 724}


the Arabs. Owing to the tremendous sacrifices of the Allied nations, and more particularly of Britain and her Empire, the Arabs have already won independence in Iraq, Arabia, Syria, and Trans-Jordania, although most of the Arab races fought throughout the War for their Turkish oppressors. Arabia was the only exception in that respect. The Palestinian Arabs fought for Turkish rule.


The Balfour Declaration represented the convinced policy of all parties in our country and also in America, but the launching of it in 1917 was due, as I have said, to propagandist reasons. I should like once more to remind the British public, who may be hesitating about the burdens of our Zionist Declaration to-day, of the actual war position at the time of that Declaration. We are now looking at the War through the dazzling glow of a triumphant end, but in 1917 the issue of the War was still very much in doubt. We were convinced - but not all of us - that we would pull through victoriously, but the Germans were equally persuaded that victory would rest on their banners, and they had much reason for coming to that conclusion. They had smashed the Roumanians. The Russian Army was completely demoralised by its numerous defeats. The French Army was exhausted and temporarily unequal to striking a great blow. The Italians had sustained a shattering defeat at Caporetto. The unlimited submarine campaign had sunk millions of tons of our shipping. There were no American divisions at the front, and when I say at the front, I mean available in the trenches. For the Allies there were two paramount problems at that time. The first was that the Central Powers should be broken by the blockade before our supplies of food and essential raw material were cut off by sinkings of our own ships. The other was that the war preparations in the United States should be speeded up to such an extent as to enable the Allies to be adequately reinforced in the critical campaign of 1918 by American troops. In the solution of these two problems, public opinion in Russia and America played a great part, and we had every reason at that time to believe that in both countries the friendliness or hostility of the Jewish race might make a considerable difference.


{p. 725}


The solution of Germany's food and raw material dificulties depended on the attitude of Russia and the goodwill of its people. We realised, and so did the Germans, that Russia could take no further part in the War with her army, but the question was: when would she conclude peace with Germany and what manner of peace would it be? Time counted for both sides, and the conditions and the temper of the peace between Germany and Russia counted even more. Would the peace be of a kind which would afford facilities for the Germans to secure supplies of grain, oil, and copper from the immeasurable natural resources of that vast and rich country, or would it be a sulky pact which would always stand in the way of Germany's attempt to replenish her stores from Russian resources? In the former case, we could not hope for a better issue of the War than a stalemate after another year or two of carnage. In the latter case, the stranglehold of our fleet would be effective, and the Central Powers would be deprived of essential food and material and their will and power of resistance would be weakened to a breaking-point. The Germans were equally alive to the fact that the Jews of Russia wielded considerable influence in Bolshevik circles. The Zionist Movement was exceptionally strong in Russia and America. The Germans were, therefore, engaged actively in courting favour with that Movement all over the world. A friendly Russia would mean not only more food and raw material for Germany and Austria, but fewer German and Austrian troops on the Eastern front and, therefore, more available for the West. These considerations were brought to our notice by the Foreign Office, and reported to the War Cabinet.


The support of the Zionists for the cause of the Entente would mean a great deal as a war measure. Quite naturally Jewish sympathies were to a great extent anti-Russian, and therefore in favour of the Central Powers. No ally of Russia, in fact, could escape sharing that immediate and inevitable penalty for the long and savage Russian persecution of the Jewish race. In addition to this, the German General Staff, with their wide outlook on possibilities, urged, early in 1916, the advantages of promising Jewish restoration to Palestine under an arrangement


{p. 726}


to be made between Zionists and Turkey, backed by a German guarantee. The practical difficulties were considerable; the subject was perhaps dangerous to German relations with Turkey; and the German Government acted cautiously. But the scheme was by no means rejected or even shelved, and at any moment the Allies might have been forestalled in offering this supreme bid. In fact in September, 1917, the German Government were making very serious efforts to capture the Zionist Movement.


Another most cogent reason for the adoption by the Allies of the policy of the declaration lay in the state of Russia herself. Russian Jews had been secretly active on behalf of the Central Powers from the first; they had become the chief agents of German pacifist propaganda in Russia; by 1917 they had done much in preparing for that general disintegration of Russian society, later recognised as the Revolution. It was believed that if Great Britain declared for the fulfilment of Zionist aspirations in Palestine under her own pledge, one effect would be to bring Russian Jewry to the cause of the Entente.


It was believed, also, that such a declaration would have a potent influence upon world Jewry outside Russia, and secure for the Entente the aid of Jewish financial interests. In America, their aid in this respect would have a special value when the Allies had almost exhausted the gold and marketable securities available for American purchases. Such were the chief considerations which, in 1917, impelled the British Government towards making a contract with Jewry.


Men like Mr. Balfour, Lord Milner, Lord Robert Cecil, and myself were in whole-hearted sympathy with the Zionist ideal. The same thing applied to all the leaders of public opinion in our country and in the Dominions, Conservative, Liberal, and Labour. There were only one or two who were not so favourably inclined to the policy. One, in particular, doubted the wisdom from the Jewish point of view; that was Mr. Edwin Montagu. Lord Curzon, whilst professing a certain measure of interest in Zionist dreams, was anxious not to excite unattainable hopes in the breasts of Jewish zealots. He doubted the feasibility of any substantial achievement because of the barrenness of the Pales-


{p. 727}


tinian soil. He prepared a careful statement of his opinion, which can be read with interest to-day in view of developments in Palestine since the War. It is written in Lord Curzon's best and most characteristic style. There is a great fund of detailed knowledge of his subject, acquired by a study of the authorities on the matter, stimulated by a flying visit through the country in his youthful days. But he had, by instinct and inheritance, profound distrust of the success of any bold experiment designed to change existing conditions. The writing has much distinction of phrasing. It is also lightened by some amusing passages.

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Aliyah (Hebrew: עלייה Translit.: Aliya Translated: ascent) refers to Jewish immigration to Eretz Israel. It is a basic tenet of Zionist ideology.


Mass return to the Land of Israel is a recurring theme in Jewish prayers recited every day, three times a day, and holiday services on Passover and Yom Kippur traditionally conclude with the words "Next year in Jerusalem." For generations, however, aliyah was associated with the coming of the Jewish Messiah. Jews prayed for their Messiah to come, who was to redeem the Land of Israel from gentile rule and return world Jewry to the land under a Halachic theocracy.


March 13, 1881 was a Russian Tsar Alexander II fell victim to an assassination plot. The Russian press claimed the assassination of Alexander was a Jewish act. has been disputed. The stories inspired "retaliatory" attacks by Christians on Jewish communities. More than 2 million Jews fled Russia between 1880 and 1920. The vast majority of them emigrated to the United States, but some decided to make aliyah.


Bilu (Hebrew: ביל"ו‎; acronym based on a verse from the Book of Isaiah (2:5) "בית יעקב לכו ונלכה" "Beit Ya'akov Lekhu Ve-nelkha" ("House of Jacob, let us go [up]") was a group of Jewish idealists aspiring to settle in the Land of Israel with the political purpose to redeem Eretz Yisrael and re-establish the Jewish State on it.


The first group of Biluim was founded by fourteen ex-university students from Kharkov who in July 1882 arrived in Palestine, a province within the Ottoman Empire which in ancient times had been the site of the historical Jewish homeland. The same month, after an unsuccessful attempt to attend a Jewish farming school in Mikveh Israel, they joined Hovevei Zion pioneers in establishing Rishon LeZion ("First to Zion") as an agricultural cooperative on the purchased lands of the Arab village Eyun Kara. It lacked sufficient fresh water and within a few months, facing starvation, most of them left.


They turned to Baron Edmond James de Rothschild for help, and he provided funds in order to create a wine industry in Palestine. In 1886, construction began on the Rishon Le-Zion winery. Baron Rothschild brought in experts who located water at 42 meters below ground. The groundwater table in the area was found to be uneven and wells were mostly constructed at between 20 and 25 meters in depth. Orchards were then developed around the settlement. Rishon Le-Zion eventually became a successful wine-exporting enterprise. By the late 1920s the city developed a burgeoning citrus industry.


Rishon was declared a city in 1950. By 1983 it had a population of 103,000. In 2006, 222,300 people were living in the city. By 2020, the population is expected to reach 315,000.[4] In 2007, the Rishon LeZion Municipality was awarded the Ministry of Interior Prize for Proper Management.



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