Where he, terribly, missed a vital opportunity from Israel's point of view, however, was in legitimizing our Jewish nation-state solely on the basis of our people's persecution through the centuries, which "culminated in an unprecedented Holocaust."
Yes, of course, denying the Holocaust is 'baseless, ignorant and hateful." And yes, "threatening Israel with destruction" does indeed serve "to evoke in the minds of Israelis this most painful of memories while preventing the peace that the people of this region deserve."
But our rights in this land are not predicated solely, or even primarily, on the tragedies that have befallen us during our history in exile. Those rights relate, rather, to the fact that we were in exile - from this land, this historic Jewish homeland. This is the only place on earth where the Jews have ever been sovereign, the place we never willingly left, the place to which we always prayed to return.
The culminating tragedy of the Holocaust occurred only because we had been denied that rightful homeland. Six million Jewish lives were lost because that legitimacy was not internationally internalized in time. This president, in that place, should have emphasized the point - stressed the physical root of our legitimacy to a Muslim world, and especially a Palestinian populace, that overwhelmingly refuses to acknowledge it.
Instead, unfortunately, the president spoke of the "displacement" of Palestinians "brought by Israel's founding" (while making no mention of the Arab world's rejection of the Arab entity that would have been simultaneously created alongside us). In so doing, he reinforced the very portrayal of Israel as a modern colonial upstart that Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad so cynically and strategically asserts.In so painstakingly calibrated an address, delivered in so vital and urgent a cause, this was a stark failure, and one Obama should himself recognize the need to rectify as he translates his talk into action. For Muslim recognition of our fundamental right to be here, precisely here, is central to the president's admirable quest to make a better world, a peaceful world, a new beginning.