Lifestyle & Belief

Chart of the day: Obama's Cairo speech to the Muslim world compared to Israel


US President Barack Obama (L) greets Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a press conference on March 20, 2013 in Jerusalem, Israel. This is Obama's first visit as President to the region, and his itinerary will include meetings with the Palestinian and Israeli leaders as well as a visit to the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem.


Lior Mizrahi

What can we learn from this graphic aside from Obama's (or his speech writers'?) love to repeat "people," "world" and "must"? The subject of both speeches touched on similar points: Israel has the right to exist, but so does Palestine as an independent state. 

Reactions so far have been positive in Israel.

"It was a perfect speech, balanced, wise, elegant. He spoke to youth, to all of us," an Israeli cab driver told GlobalPost Senior Correspondent in Israel, Noga Tarnopolsky.

As for Israel's neighbors? "The region in general, and Egypt in particular, are far too preoccupied with their own domestic political changes to give Obama’s speech any considerable weight," said Erin Cunningham, GlobalPost Senior Correspondent in Cairo. "The Arab world was not the audience for today’s speech – unlike the Cairo address in 2009 – and a lot of the optimism about a potential change in US regional policy that accompanied Obama’s first term has since dissipated here."

Obama's balancing act of trying to appease the Arab world without offending Israel in his 2009 Cairo speech, was first seen as major — and positive — departure from Bush-era rhetoric. But in the long-term it set Obama up for a fall as the Muslim world waited, in vain, for his words to be put into action. It also made the president few friends in Israel.

Obama's favorability among Israelis plunged 11 percent right after the 2009 address for being "insufficiently pro-Israel," according to a Pew Research poll taken at the time. Approval ratings are in the teens for Obama in the Middle East, meanwhile, due mostly to controversial policies like widespread drone strikes and the use of "imminent threat" to justifiy killing without oversight.

Visit our live blog for the latest updates during Obama's visit to Israel.

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