December 30, 2009
Palestinian journalist residing in Jerusalem and Amman.
For a few minutes on Sunday I wondered what would have happened if I was reading rather than listening to US President Barack Obama's statement from Hawaii. The US president took time off his Christmas vacation to speak about the incident that occurred on the flight from Amsterdam to Detroit. Had I not heard his voice and seen his picture, I would have thought that the speaker was none other than former US president George W. Bush. What has happened to Obama in less than one year?
Unlike any of his previous speeches, Obama spoke totally out of script by using the word "terrorism" three times in a statement that lasted only a few minutes. Until this incident, Obama had preferred to use the word "radical" or "extremist" rather than much more emotionally loaded terrorists and terrorism.
What made the statement sound more like a Bush speech rather than an Obama one was the reference to the aim of the anti-American attackers. Obama had the following to say: "Those plotting against us seek not only to undermine our security, but also the open society and the values that we cherish as Americans."
Obama clearly capitulated to forces on the right who have repeatedly described any attack against the US because of its foreign policy as attacks against America's "open society" and American "values".