Speaking to a Muslim audience in Cairo, Obama noted that Israeli's and Jews everywhere, continue to be shaped by the terrible trauma of the Holocaust. When Muslims deny the Holocaust, or trade in anti-Jewish stereotypes to voice their grievance against Israel, they push these fear buttons.
Around the world, the Jewish people were persecuted for centuries, and anti-Semitism in Europe culminated in an unprecedented Holocaust. Tomorrow, I will visit Buchenwald, which was part of a network of camps where Jews were enslaved, tortured, shot and gassed to death by the Third Reich. Six million Jews were killed – more than the entire Jewish population of Israel today. Denying that fact is baseless, ignorant, and hateful. Threatening Israel with destruction – or repeating vile stereotypes about Jews – is deeply wrong, and only serves to evoke in the minds of Israelis this most painful of memories while preventing the peace that the people of this region deserve.
When Obama asks his audiences to look past their own trauma to consider the position of the other, he is repudiating the politics of governing through crime in the strongest possible way. When we govern through crime we place our own fear and trauma at the center of reality, and cast the other, whom we fear, out into the darkness where they become every more frightening. The previous administration built this logic into a global war on terror that produced ever more fear and ever more terror. In Cairo, President Obama is laying down a vision of governing without fear that can unlock the peace process between Israel and Palestine, and that can unlock American's from their prisons of fear.