Barack Obama calls for reconciliation, not revenge

Speaking on 19th May 2011 about the Middle East, US President Barack Obama said:

‘Suspicion and hostility has been passed on for generations, and at times it has hardened.

‘But I’m convinced that the majority of Israelis and Palestinians would rather look to the future than be trapped in the past. We see that spirit in the Israeli father whose son was killed by Hamas, who helped start an organisation that brought together Israelis and Palestinians who had lost loved ones. That father said, “I gradually realised that the only hope for progress was to recognise the face of the conflict.”

‘We see it in the actions of a Palestinian who lost three daughters to Israeli shells in Gaza. “I have the right to feel angry,” he said. “So many people were expecting me to hate. My answer to them is I shall not hate. Let us hope,” he said, “for tomorrow.”

‘That is the choice that must be made – not simply in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but across the entire region – a choice between hate and hope; between the shackles of the past and the promise of the future. It’s a choice that must be made by leaders and by the people, and it’s a choice that will define the future of a region that served as the cradle of civilisation and a crucible of strife.’

You can see this section of President Obama’s speech on YouTube or read a report in the New York Times. The full text is also available on the White House website.

Two Forum members who were in Chicago when President Obama made his speech were interviewed by Fox Chicago TV.