As a historian, I could quible with the speech Obama just gave in Cairo. He set up a partial narrative of the past, choosing the elements that were convenient to string together a vision of the future as he'd like it to be. Yet he's not a historian. He's the most powerful man in the world, and he's trying to use his limited power to make it a better place. The narrative he presented and the vision drawn from it were admirable. It was a fine articulation of an Enlightened goal for humanity. Sadly, it's a rare politician who ever takes the time even to try to make such an encompassing articulation, much less set it up as a beacon to guide the formulation of policy. He deserves credit for trying. His determination to "tell truth" was also admirable: the speech may have been an interpretation of history but it was consistent and honest about its essential componants: Fight violent extremists; two states in Israel/Palestine (with a loud rejection of Holocaust denial); no nuclear race which at this point means no nuclear Iran; democracy (tho he could have been more explicit for my taste); equality of women; respect for all religions (though he mentioned only the Abrahamic ones); equal opportunities.
What was there not to agree with?
A wise Israeli Prime Minster such as we don't have, would have gone on air two minutes after Obama's speech and said "As the elected leader of Israel and foremost political figure in the Jewish world, I welcome President Obama's speech wholeheartedly. He speaks for us, too, in our joint aspirations for peace dignity freedom and well-being in the Middle East and everywhere. We will do whatever we can to assist him in realizing his fine vision".
Let the Arabs wriggle and squirm. Why should we be defensive after such a positive speech? Of course much of what he asked for will never happen. Let the enemies of the vision stand forth and reject it. How did we paint ourselves into their camp?