From The New York Times:
When President Bush spoke in the months and years after Sept. 11, 2001, we often — chillingly — felt as if we didn’t recognize the United States. His vision was of a country racked with fear and bent on vengeance, one that imposed invidious choices on the world and on itself. When we listened to President Obama speak in Cairo on Thursday, we recognized the United States. Mr. Obama spoke, unwaveringly, of the need to defend the country’s security and values. He left no doubt that he would do what must be done to defeat Al Qaeda and the Taliban, while making it clear that Americans have no desire to permanently occupy Afghanistan or Iraq. He spoke, unequivocally, of the United States’ “unbreakable” commitment to Israel and of why Iran must not have a nuclear weapon. He was also clear that all of those listening — in the Muslim world and in Israel — must do more to defeat extremism and to respect the rights of their neighbors and their people.
Words are important. Mr. Obama was right when he urged leaders who privately speak of moderation and compromise to dare to say those words in public. But words are not enough. Mr. Obama, who, after all, has been in office for less than six months, has a lot to do to fulfill this vision. So do others.
Like many people, we were listening closely to how the president would address the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He did not shy away from pressing Israel’s new government, insisting that the construction of settlements must stop, the existence of a Palestinian state cannot be denied, and “the situation for the Palestinian people is intolerable.” In the same stern tone, he pressed the Palestinians to reject violence and said that Arab states must stop using the conflict “to distract” their people from other problems. They must recognize Israel and do more to help Palestinians build strong state institutions. We couldn’t have agreed more when he said that the elements of a peace formula are known. We are now waiting to hear his strategy to move the process forward.