Friday, June 05, 2009

President Obama's words in Cairo about 9/11

President Obama in Cairo
(Image from LA Times Blogs)

I haven't been carefully following President Obama's trip to the Middle East, but I am interested in what he said to the Muslim world in the major speech that he presented in Cairo. I've not yet read his words closely, for the end of the semester is upon us here in Korea, and grading starts today, but I did find this interesting passage by skimming the printed text:
I am aware that some question or justify the events of 9/11. But let us be clear: al Qaeda killed nearly 3,000 people on that day. The victims were innocent men, women and children from America and many other nations who had done nothing to harm anybody. And yet Al Qaeda chose to ruthlessly murder these people, claimed credit for the attack, and even now states their determination to kill on a massive scale. They have affiliates in many countries and are trying to expand their reach. These are not opinions to be debated; these are facts to be dealt with. (Available on Johanna Neuman's blog entry at LA Times Blogs)
I'm glad that President Obama emphasized this point because so many conspiracy theories constantly distract people from the fact that Al Qaeda has repeatedly taken credit for the attack. I've had students here in Korea who have asked if they can write their essays defending some conspiratorial point -- such as the rumor that no Jews showed up for work in the World Trade Center on 9/11, that the collapse of the WTC's two towers was due to controlled explosions, or that the US Government, the Mossad, or perhaps the Illuminati planned and carried out the attacks. I discourage students from writing such essays because they'll be defending something about which I am profoundly skeptical, rendering their task of persuasion more difficult than ordinary, and I tell them pointblank that they're likely to receive a poor grade unless they can write a very detailed, in-depth, fact-based persuasive essay that can adequately address questions and competently quell doubts. So far, they've all chosen to write on something else.

I don't expect President Obama's remarks to persuade those who believe in conspiracies other than the single correct conspiracy theory -- namely, that Al Qaeda conspired to carry out the 9/11 attacks -- but he at least addressed the issue directly in a place where false conspiracy theories are widely believed.

Enough on that, for my day must begin.

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At 12:02 PM, Anonymous Tom Ball said...

Hey, Jeff,

It's late at night, and I'm groggy like I'm supposed to be right now, but you're column brings up something I've been puzzling over. I can understand Americans buying into conspiracy theories about 9/11, 'cause conspiracies are a favorite American pastime.

But I don't understand anyone in the Levant buying into it. The Palestinians were dancing in the streets on 9/12...surely they didn't think they were celebrating the US government killing it's own people? We're being told over here that a significant portion of the Arabic world quietly looks on Bin Laden as a...what's the word? Mahdi? Savior? Can they really bend their perceptions into such a pretzel that they're glad Osama gave those damn Americans a bloody nose but they're sure it was really the Israelis?

At 2:52 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

I'm not sure, Tom. Perhaps they're used to holding contradictory views of topics. But I suspect that they really know that Bin Laden's group did it and that many of them just won't acknowledge this to outsiders.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 4:02 PM, Anonymous Christopher said...

While Obama made a great speech, he left out some important things, as shown in this piece in the Guardian (UK).

At 6:53 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Christopher, I'll take a look.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 9:46 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tom Ball,
(1)The conspiracy thing is not what at stake here. What is important here is that, this president understands the suffering of Palestinians and about to do something about it. He gets the real issues at hand. All talks between Islam and the West have go through the gates of Jerusalem. Only Jerusalem!
(2) your understanding of Islam and Islamic societies is a bit inaccurate. 99% of Muslims, didn't like what happened on Sept 11. I know that because i am a Muslim and full aware of what my people think. The celebration of few Palestinians, which was widely publicized, was an irrational emotional outburst that was out of anger and despair with the US blindly supporting Israel. I actually heard of Israelis and American Jews celebrations as well, and i am sure these acts are nowhere a representation of the Jewish people. Bin ladin is no Mehdi, nor anyone would put him there, not to mention that Mehdi means something to the only 10% Shies'.
So maybe, we all should focus on what the speech included and not what it didn't. After all Obama is no Mehdi..That is a Joke, by the way.. i have to be careful here..


At 10:01 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Ahmed, thanks for the comment.

The 99% disapproval sounds a bit high, compared to statistics that I've seen, but I won't quibble.

About this statement, "I actually heard of Israelis and American Jews celebrations as well, and i am sure these acts are nowhere a representation of the Jewish people."

I've never heard of this. Do you know this for a fact? A source would be helpful.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 10:52 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


As an American-Jew that was in New York area during 9-11 I can assure you none of the Jewish American community was celebrating, actually no one was, not even Muslims. It was a scary time for everyone, regardless of religious affiliation. If you can please share your sources that would be great. I am very skeptical where you are getting your information from.

At 5:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I clearly said that i heard something about it, and i wasn't using in the sense that the "Jewish American community was celebrating 911", as i am sure no one was, i am from NY too and none of My Muslim or Jewish friends was celebrating. I said that in the sense that we have plenty of fools on both sides. Here is the link, just so you don't think i am making this up :

Again, this is not to promote its significance, if it had any, but to allow for understanding of what the few Palestinians felt at the time, and build a position based on it, unless you are willing to do the same with the five Israeli soldiers who were dancing in New Jersey and filming the fall of the towers.


You said; "99% disapproval sounds a bit high, compared to statistics that I've seen". I think you are wrong, but i would love to see your statistics. Please provide them as i could be the wrong one.


At 6:59 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Ahmed, thanks for the link.

I couldn't trust the David Irving link, but I found the original link at Haaretz. It's certainly odd to read, but the report seems authentic concerning five Israelis. I wonder what happened with the case.

As for the statistics on Muslim support for Al Qaeda's 9/11 attacks, I'll have to do some Googling, but I am certain that I've seen statistics as high as 20 to 30 percent . . . though I don't expect that to be accepted as fact unless I provide confirmation.

Do you know for certain that the Muslim world registered merely 1% approval of 9/11?

Jeffery Hodges

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At 8:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I wonder what happend to the case..."

The whole incident is totally fishy and one of the crown jewls in many a skeptic's arsenal: See here for a concise, yet amply referenced overview of the 5 Israelis' story.

At 8:35 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Anonymous, thanks for the link, but whatever the case with the five Israelis (and I am still wondering), the evidence that Al Qaeda planned and carried out the 9/11 attacks appears to me to be overwhelming.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 3:04 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Again, this link was posted to note to those who overly playing up the incident of few, frustrated with US one-sided policy, Palestinians, and bring it up every time they have a chance just to a make a point that the Arabs or Muslims hate America. To point out to them that Israelis did the same thing, which proves one thing and one thing only; that morons do live on both sides of the isle.
I didn't quote the conspiracy theorists' site on purpose and used a Jewish website to note that the story is true. Here is few more:
1. ABC:

2. Youtube Foxnews (This one is about Israel knew about the attack but let it happen):

And there are more if you just use decent google skills.

Again and so we do not lose the point in the mix of all this; We should Muslims, Jews, Christians and even Atheists work hard to provide the right PR and support, to help what it looks to be a serious effort to solve this 60 year bloody conflict and help bring security and justice to both people.

At 3:40 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Horace Jeffery Hodges,

With all due respect, you cannot just through "I've seen statistics as high as 20 to 30 percent" without clearly substantiate it with a creditable reference. I am sure that you are aware of the fact that 30% out of +1.5 Billion is a lot, and the US is in deep trouble if that is the true. That is a +450,000,000.
Again, Horace Jeffery Hodges, throwing numbers like that without consciously thinking about them doesn't really help at all. I am sure you did not mean to be malicious or hateful, but we all need to be alert to the impact our unseemly comments make on disturbed vigilantes out there -just think of Tiller's killer, who turned out to be a regular on the O'reilly blog. I am not equating the situations, i am just using this example abstractly.

" Do you know for certain that the Muslim world registered merely 1% approval of 9/11?" Yes i do! as a Muslim who knows a bit about his religion and his people than your average Muslim, and from following Islamic and Arabic blogs, official and unofficial media, talking and living in Arabic and Muslim communities and academically doing research on the subject, i can say for certain that the number is even less than the 1%. However, the 1% seems to find its way to US mainstream media more often than does the 99% one.


At 5:16 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Anonymous (are you Ahmed?),

I looked at the ABC News site, and this was all that I found describing the reported celebration of the five Israelis:

"The men were taking video or photos of themselves with the World Trade Center burning in the background, she said. What struck Maria were the expressions on the men's faces. 'They were like happy, you know . . . . They didn't look shocked to me. I thought it was very strange,' she said."

This seems pretty weak as evidence for celebration by five Israelis, but perhaps other sources would give more information.

As for the You Tube video, it reports speculation that Israel was spying on Muslim groups in the US, which seems plausible to me, and it specifies that federal investigators suspected that such spies knew something about 9/11 in advance.

Well, this "something" is rather imprecise, so I can't address the point with any certainty, but even US intelligence was aware of something and was coming very close to putting all of the pieces together . . . but failed.

Anyway, thanks for the links.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 5:33 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Ahmed, you are correct to ask for "a creditable reference" for the numbers that I said that I'd seen. In fact, you may recall that I myself stated that "I don't expect . . . [the numbers] to be accepted as fact unless I provide confirmation." So, I wasn't "throwing numbers [around] . . . without consciously thinking about them."

I Googled on this statistics issue yesterday for about an hour but couldn't find any statistics at all. I'll try again when I have time, but I'm in the midst of grading final papers and tests, so I can't devote much time to this issue.

By the way, Ahmed, did you post the anonymous comments? I wasn't sure. Also, speaking of names, I don't really use the name "Horace."

Jeffery Hodges

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At 6:38 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jeffery Hodges,

Names: Yes i am the same Ahmed. I used your name you have posted it 'as is'.
Dancing Israelis: The story is more than just Maria's "What struck Maria were the expressions on the men's faces. 'They were like happy, you know . . . . They didn't look shocked to me. I thought it was very strange,' she said." These soldiers were arrested and until today we don't know what happened to them. Some claim that had materials in their fan that is suspiciously similar to the ones the hijackers had. Once again, this is not the main topic here nor should be.Even if the Israeli government was involved, it does not mean that Jews were happy to see the US bombed.

Numbers: I am not really in a hurry, i will be back here in few days to see if you can provide something, or even longer if you wish, so please take your time. You have to agree with me that you have to have a proof, when making a lavish assumption that 450 Million of Muslims support 911. This is a serious claim! A very serious one! So please either prove it by submitting a 'creditable reference' or just nicely take it back. At the risk of sounding condescending, i do have to quote myself from last comment "i can say for certain that the number is even less than the 1%. However, the 1% seems to find its way to US mainstream media more often than does the 99% one."

To all,

I however would like to shift gear here and talk about the real main ideas of Obama's speech, one of which is; the peace between Israeli Jews and Palestinians. Maybe you need to be familiar with Arabic history to really appreciate the craftsmanship of the speech, but i still think that, even if you are not, the speech substantively has more quantitatively terms of policy than many would want to hear.


At 7:16 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Ahmed, thanks for clarifying that you were the poster. As for my name, I always sign off with "Jeffery Hodges."

As for statistics, I will look further. I know that I've seen reports of 20 to 30 percent support for 9/11. Now, whether those reports were based on reputable sources is another thing to be considered even if I find the numbers. Doubtless, the statistics would also differ over time.

But your statistic of 1 percent also needs to be looked into. We may both have to look into this issue more carefully.

At any rate, I also am interested in Obama's speech, which I've not had time to analyze.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 8:56 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Thank you for posting the link to the 9/11 Israelis who were practicing "abnormal" behavior, it doesn't mention anything actually about a celebration. I have a serious problem with this argument. The artical says they are Israeli, yes. But as I am sure you know there are many Arab Israelis, this article mentions nothing about them being Jewish (not all Israelis are Jewish). It also does't mention anyting about Jewish Americans. I am not calling you a liar or ignorant, but if you could post a link for the Jewish American celebrations that would be very helpful, as I am writing an academic paper on this issue.


At 9:09 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

In the meantime, here is something to chew on.

A (Pew Global Attitudes Project Report, 2007) offers some interesting statistics -- and change in statistics -- posted in 2007. In the table "Confidence in Bin Ladin to do the right thing regarding world affairs," we find these numbers:

"In Morocco, just 26% of the public now say they have a lot or some confidence in bin Laden, down sharply from 49% in May 2003. In Indonesia, the public is now about evenly split, with 35% saying they place at least some confidence in bin Laden and 37% saying they have little or none; that represents a major shift since 2003, when 58% expressed confidence in bin Laden. In Pakistan, however, a narrow majority (51%) places some measure of confidence in bin Laden, a slight increase from 45% in 2003. And in Jordan, support for the Al Qaeda leader has risen over the last two years from 55% to a current 60%, including 25% who say they have a lot of confidence in him."

Now, this isn't explicitly a confirmation of support for 9/11, but support for Bin Ladin would, presumably, correlate strongly with support for the 9/11 attacks carried out by Al Qaeda.

I'll try to find something in the next few days to supply some numbers.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 9:13 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Thanks, "R," for the query. Ahmed will likely get back to you on that. My own impression from the article was that the five men in question were Israeli Jews, not Israeli Arabs. If they had been Arabs, the point would probably have been clarified in the article.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 2:16 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hahahaha....This conversation going back and fort is a display of a cultural contrast. On on side, you see the noble attempt to say something useful, on the other, a diminishing attribute and incoherent attempt to find the wrong. You can guess what side is what. LOL

At 2:55 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why are Jews against Obama? i hope the don't kill him like they did with Rabin..

At 5:31 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Anonymous, the comments posted here so far have been respectful enough, so I don't know what you're referring to as incoherent or what you find so humorous that you laugh out loud.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 5:40 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Anonymous, are you the same as the Anonymous who laughed out loud?

Anyway, as for 'the Jews' -- they're hardly monolithic on Obama, nor were they on Rabin.

The Jewish Task Force site that you linked to represents a small number of Jews and has been condemned by the Anti-Defamation League and the Simon Wiesenthal Center.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 9:20 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So those Jews who openly call for the death of Obama, calling him a Muslim - just to insult him - which is clear racism and hateful , you so anxiously calling them a small minority within the Jewish faith, but when it comes to Muslims you seem to be loose on figures and eager to point out that they are sympathizers of AlQaeda. You went as far as using a 30% figure (!!??). This is a clear bias on your behalf Jeffery, a bias against Muslim and for Jews. On one hand you are trying to prove how bad Muslims are " I Googled on this statistics issue yesterday for about an hour but couldn't find any statistics at all. I'll try again when I have time"(Jeffery), on the other, you are arguing with me against, as i clearly put it earlier, that there are no shortage of "Morons on both sides". You also, trying very hard to belittle and marginalize the incident of the 5 "Jewish" Israeli soldiers, or the 60 Mosad agents who are under FBI custody since 911 (according to the same sources). As i have clearly stated that i am a Muslim, my question to you, from which we can get some insights into this exchange: Are you Jewish?, and if so are you a Zionist? and if neither, how do you feel about Zionism?


At 10:10 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Ahmed, let me remind you that you are a guest here on my blog, and the implicit rules of hospitality require that both host and guest maintain courtesy.

If you want to get better acquainted with me, then I suggest that you look around on my blog. You'll probably learn enough that way to answer your questions.

In this forum, however, I prefer to stay on topic. I therefore pose no personal questions -- and also have no desire to answer any.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 11:15 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have always been conducting myself with courtesy and politeness when posting on your blog or others. Not once before this, has anyone accused me of otherwise. I just every time the conversation turns sour. Life is too short to spend it on arguing the sky is blue.
I seriously recommend that you read my comment again, and you will see that i do not owe any apology for wanting to know your political and religious background. Religious background means something in this conversation, and since i stated mine, i see no problem with asking for yours. i mean i could search, but what is wrong with telling who we are.
The other thing, was me saying that you are biased, which again, i do not see anything 'improper' with it.
I talked about your 'loosely' generated figures that you throw out there and now struggling to find one reference to justify it. I have just reminded you ,and since your an academic, that you need to have your 'creditable and clear refereces' on hand before you start using percentages and figures - common sense, nothing more. On the contrary to your accusation, i have showed despite all this, patience and understanding and mentioned earlier that i don't think that you are doing this out of malice, and offered that you withdrew it. Clearly you do not wish to.
Finally, I have always tried to stay on topic despite your attempt to turn it to 'Jews cannot do no wrong' , and despite your own admittance that you have not read the speech "At any rate, I also am interested in Obama's speech, which I've not had time to analyze."(Jeffery) Which means that you blogging about something you have not even read.

Now! and since my presence here is not welcomed i will take my leave.

At 11:48 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Ahmed, I believe that you are overreacting to what I have written, but since we seem to have difficulty communicating, then perhaps your choice is for the best.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 8:01 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Anyone interested in a summary of this dispute and some extra statistics, go here.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 8:33 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Funny how Tom Ball has never posted again, at least not with the Same Name, since he is the one who started all this!!! Just funny! any psychologists in the room?

laughter is good for the soul.

At 12:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


For reasons known only to him, President Obama avoids certain Bible verses:
Proverbs 19:10 (NIV): "It is not fitting for a fool to live in luxury - how much worse for a slave to rule over princes!"
Also Proverbs 30:22 (NIV) which says that the earth cannot bear up under "a servant who becomes king."

At 1:22 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Concerning the Bible quotes, are you suggesting that things are better in Moab?

Jeffery Hodges

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