President Obama's June 4th speech in Cairo will go down in history as a courageous and sincere effort to repair the damaged relationship between the United States and the Muslim world. However, when addressing the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians, President Obama failed to mention a key word that could have made this historic speech a truly transformative speech. That word is the "T" word that the Obama administration simply refuses to acknowledge: Terrorism.
President Obama stated that "Palestinians must abandon violence". Unfortunately, in the following sentence, he incorrectly labeled Palestinian violence as "resistance" when he stated that "Resistance through violence and killing is wrong and does not succeed". Here the President missed a rare opportunity to address the core issue of the conflict.
The term "resistance" implies opposition to Israeli occupation. However, if one looks at the goal of the organization that bears the title "The Islamic Resistance Movement" that we know as Hamas we begin to understand that "resistance" is really a euphemism for something totally different: resistance to the very existence of Israel.
Just read the Hamas charter, and that point will be very clear. When Hamas calls for the destruction of Israel, these evil words are translated into horrific deeds through terrorism. Pretending it is something else like "resistance" will not bring peace.
When Hamas terrorists fire Kassam rockets from Gaza into neighboring Israeli communities like Sderot, they are not resisting an occupation that already ended in 2005; they are using terrorism to resist Israel's right to exist. Just ask the children of Sderot who have been traumatized by thousands of rockets fired at their homes over the past four years. They are victims of terror, not "resistance".
While addressing the differences between the United States and Iran, the President focused on the nuclear issue but totally ignored the "T" word, terrorism. This was a dramatic failure to state the obvious. Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons would not be a major issue if it wasn't, according to our own State Department, "the world's most active state sponsor of terror".
Imagine a Middle East without Iranian sponsorship of terror. Hamas and Hezbollah would be left to throwing rocks, not rockets, and Israelis would feel confident that they could safely withdraw from the West Bank without the fear of rockets raining down on Tel Aviv.
The President can criticize the growth of Israeli settlements in the West Bank all he wants - no problem. Actually, there are a majority of Israelis who agree with him. However, his failure to identify terror as the key issue at the heart of the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians only serves to perpetuate it. Terror is an existential issue for Israelis, and they have serious concerns about a potential Hamas takeover of the West Bank.
Absent Iranian sponsorship of terror, Israelis would overwhelmingly vote for a strong advocate of the two-state solution like Tzipi Livni rather than the current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who is, at best, ambivalent about Palestinian statehood. Indeed, even Netanyahu- a pragmatist at heart- would become much more conciliatory on the issue if Iran abandoned its support for terror.
In order to transform the Middle East by ending this tragic conflict, President Obama will need to use the specific language he so eagerly seeks to avoid, and that means using the "T" word. He must demand that the government of Iran end its sponsorship of Hamas and Hezbollah. And if Iran fails to do so, then he must challenge our European allies to regain the moral clarity that they lost long ago. They must stop conducting business as usual with the world's leading state sponsor of... yes, Terrorism.