Myself I was impressed by Obama's offering himself to the Muslim world as a leader, the supple use of the Koran and of Islamic teaching, the embrace of his own Muslim background, and the willingness to dive into women's freedom. The students here were wild for him on this basis too, many of them say the speech was "amazing," a word I heard again and again from them. Several have told me how moved they were by his appreciation for Islamic prophets.
My disappointment with his statements on Israel-Palestine was echoed by a few of the students I've talked to. I should say that mostly they said that he was wise to avoid particulars, and that it is healing to try and move the conflict into the past; but a couple of students expressed disappointment and even resentment on the issue. He did not say anything new or concrete. The putting of Jewish refugees from the Holocaust in the same basket as Palestinian refugees doesn't work. The language on settlements was not strong enough, and there was no real condemnation of Israel's treatment of the Palestinians. Gaza is "intolerable," but who is responsible for that intolerableness? He mentioned Israel as little as he could, a medical student said to me. And "smacked" a democratically-elected government, Hamas.
Having called for boldness and the expression of private thoughts (the high watermark of the race speech), he chose well-worn ideas.
Though the description of Jerusalem as an open city, without using those words, does make it clear that he was only pandering when he said "undivided" to AIPAC.
I felt proud of my president throughout, and loved the joy of the students crying Obama. What a great thing to see a world leader. And grabbing at hope, I saw in his repeated statements against colonialism, against the Iraq war, against states that discriminate against minorities, and for the American revolution because all men are created equal–I saw in this theme some recognition of the injustice that is at the center of our policy in the eyes of the Muslim world.