President Obama was right to reach out to the Islamic world at his inauguration. Given his background, Obama has a unique chance to promote what is good about the United States while distinguishing those virtues from our problems and failures.
Posted by John Mark Reynolds, on February 5, 2009 12:24 AM
Every administration has a new opportunity. President Obama will try. Will he succeed? The mutual interests of the Jews, the Muslims and the world cry out for it. The odds of the situation may be against him, but hopes of the world are soaring.
Posted by John Shelby Spong, on February 3, 2009 10:00 AM
Yes, we can move forward into a new era of peace and trust, if we do three simple things: recognize the diversity and humanity of Muslims and all people, return our country to respect for human rights and international law, and demand the same from our allies.
A shift in U.S. foreign policy that embraces the Muslim world as a partner rather than an enemy is not only possible, but is necessary for the future interests of humanity. Anti-Americanism in the Muslim world is not driven by hatred of U.S. values, but U.S. policies in the region.
Posted by Hadia Mubarak, on February 3, 2009 5:47 AM
What is astonishing to me is less the Inaugural rhetoric of "mutual interest and mutual respect" than the fact that the President today spoke directly to many in the Muslim world. This is not only a new foreign policy approach, it is also a different ethics for engaging with the peoples of the world.
Posted by Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite, on February 2, 2009 7:39 AM
Repairing relations and affirming the legitimacy of Islam in America, by visiting some major Muslim venues; Repairing the bloody wounds of the Gaza-Israel relationship; and making a broad Middle East peace among Israel, Palestine, all the Arab states, Iran and the USA itself.
Posted by Arthur Waskow, on February 2, 2009 6:07 AM
Obama is obliged to try to continue to seek peace because that is what decent political leaders do. But I don't think anyone is going to get very far with people who believe that they're entitled to a certain piece of Jerusalem because Muhammad ascended into heaven there, or to some piece of desert because Jewish prophets are supposedly buried there.
Posted by Susan Jacoby, on January 30, 2009 9:16 AM
Obama spoke the right words, in the right spirit. Muslims may seem too eager to seize on his middle name, but Hussein is more than a symbol. It's a crack in the wall that has kept Islam apart for so long.
Posted by Deepak Chopra, on January 30, 2009 8:50 AM
There is no single Muslim world, and any intimation that there is, will either work against addressing the serious threats we face from some Muslims, or cause us to miss the genuine opportunities that will be found by working more constructively with many more.
Where President Obama got it right was in using the word "mutual" to define the new way forward which he seeks.
Posted by Brad Hirschfield, on January 30, 2009 8:21 AM
Obama is off to a good start. He seems to realize that the vast majority of the Muslim world aspires to the same American values of freedom of speech and democracy. It is American foreign policy, and perceived double standards that angers them.
Posted by Pamela K. Taylor, on January 28, 2009 8:05 AM
The western world has had complex, sometimes cruel interactions with the Muslim world. The Muslim world -- or a worrying portion of it -- has expressed not merely contempt, but the desire to obliterate Israel, America, and derides significant parts of Western culture.
Posted by David Wolpe, on January 28, 2009 7:53 AM
The Obama administration will have to transcend America's policy of "Israeli Exceptionalism," privileging Israeli interests. A more even-handed policy would require that Israel as well as HAMAS and the Palestinians be held to the same standards to respect and comply with international law and U.N. resolutions.
Posted by John Esposito, on January 28, 2009 12:39 AM