Friday, June 5, 2009

The Obama Way

Fresh off his historic appeal to the Muslim world from Egypt, President Barack Hussein Obama made his way to Germany to address the horrors of the Holocaust. He journeyed today to Buchenwald, the final resting place of tens of thousands of Jews including among them a young teenager in the final days of the war who went on to speak on behalf of all of the victims of the Shoah. That man is Elie Wiesel and he accompanied the president today. It was a trip that was historic on a number of fronts, but following yesterday's outreach to Arab and Palestinian intersts that angered a number of Israelis, it was, perhaps, necessary to set the record straight that this president decries inhumane treatment and genocide. Calling Holocaust denial statements as "ignorant, baseless and hateful," President Obama made sure to visit the concentration camp that his Uncle Charles Payne had helped liberate 64 years ago as a young U.S. soldier. Payne will join in services in Normandy commemorating the 65th aniversary of D-Day tomorrow. However, the memories of what he saw still so haunt his psyche that he could not make that trip, despite urging from his famous nephew. "It is understandable that someone who had witnessed what had taken place here would be in a state of shock," said Obama. German president Ana Merkel and Obama placed white roses at several places at Buchenwald, symbols of German resistance to the Nazis. While largely symbolic, the visit does say a lot about the President's commitment to the Jewish people. Like what he may say to the Muslim world or not, Jews must know that the ties between the United States and Israel is, in Obama's own word "unbreakable." It may not make everyone in the Jewish world love him, but it will go a long way to making them understand that his administration will be even-handed in how they approach solutions towards peace in the Middle East.

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