Monday, June 29, 2009
The decline and fall of Tony Blair as an EU power appears to be rapidly advancing. The wolves are encircling him even at home in Great Britain. An article from yesterday in the Examiner.com “Insider source for everything local” is entitled “Do we need Tony Blair in the Middle East.” The conclusion, of course is, “no, we don’t.”
Last week one John Ankerburg is recognizing as a prophecy expert practically pronounced Tony Blair the first powerful president of Europe. Within 24 hours, Javier Solana announced his support of Felipe Gonzalez for that prospective post. I have had pleasant associations with John Ankerberg in the past, but I suspect he needs to do more digging to understand the subtleties of the EU issues.
Herb Peters might have interpreted this as one of three kings coming down by the roots. I’m not sure how I interpret it. Time and events will tell. I personally am continuing to watch Javier Solana and his moves/endorsements with deep fascination. Solana suggested the new EU Foreign Policy would not be implemented as a "Big Bang" once the Barcelona Treaty became law, assuming the Irish finally ratify it.
Saturday, June 27, 2009
Revealing book by Uri Savir gives clues to possible Middle East outcomes
You were wondering how things might come about. A new widely touted book by former Israeli Knesset member Uri Savir might give us some important clues. It is highly praised by most, if not all of those involved in the Middle East Peace Plan process. Those endorsing include Javier Solana, , Dennis Ross and others.
The book, PEACE FIRST: A NEW MODEL TO END WAR proposes making Jerusalem "the international peace capital" of the world and dividing the city three ways: between Jewish interests, between Palestinian neighorhoods and Islamic interests, and the third part to the international community.
"Interreligious dialogue" of the highest syncretistic nature is also strongly recommended. The "peace plan" itself calls for "glocal" action using networked cities and mayors as both conciliatory and redistributive centers more in touch with their local populations.
The very new book, my copy of which arrived from Amazon only yesterday, has forewords by Shimon Peres and Dennis Ross. Shimon Peres signed the original Treaty of Association with Javier Solana binding European and Israeli interests. A picture of the November 20, 1995 signing is above. Strongly worded endorsements of the book include:
- Abu Ala (Ahmed Qurei) - Former Prime Minister of Palestinian Authority
- Ambassador Dennis Ross
- Dr. Marwin Muasher - Sr. Vice President World Bank
- Martin Indyk - The Brookings Institution
- Javier Solana - High Representative for CFSP of EU and Secretary General of both Council of Ministers of the European Union and the Western European Union
- Terje Rød-Larsen, President, International Peace Institute
- Miguel Moratinos, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Spain
- Andre Azoulay, Counselor to the King of Morocco
- Toni G. Verstandig, Senor Policy Advisor, Center for Middle East Peace and Economic Cooperation, and Executive Director, Aspen Institute's Middle East Strategy Group
- Quincy Jones, Musician / producer of WE ARE THE WORLD
- Kathleen Turner, Actress
- Sharon Stone, Actress
- Madeline K. Albright, former United States Secretary of State (Clinton Administration)
- Shimon Peres, President of Israel and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate
- FW DeKlerk, Former President of South Africa
- Dan Rather
- James Wolfensohn, Former President of World Bank
Of particular interest to me, the Javier Solana endorsement reads:
"A thoughtful examination of the challenge of peacemaking in a world where shifting parameters -- the rise of nonstate actors, the increase in international terrorism, the advance of military technology, the growing rift between the Western and Islamic societies, the rise of extremism -- have created a new strategic paradigm. A serious and insightful case for a new approach to conflict resolution."
Of Uri Savir, it is said that he founded the Shimon Peres Center for Peace in 1996 and then in 2001 the Glocal Foundation, now an important partnership component of the Alliance of Civilizations which seeks unabashedly under the sponsorship of the United Nations to regulate religious teaching -- worldwide. The public statements by Alliance spokespersons Karen Armstrong, Federico Mayor, John Esposito, and Desmond Tuto perhaps best exemplify the extreme anger against religious fundamentalism, i.e. a belief that one's religion is true, of the Alliance. See Rich Peterson's excellently done on line video for illustrations of this.
Truly we live in sobering times.
Friday, June 26, 2009
"Obama said however that the talks compered by the international P5-plus-1 group over Iran's nuclear program would likely continue.
He argued that despite speaking out with a "unified voice" on the violence in Tehran, the world needed to recognize that the prospect of Iran with nuclear weapons was a "big problem."
"My expectation would be... that you're going to continue to see some multilateral discussions with Iran."
European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana has been authorized by UN Security Council permanent members Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States plus Germany -- to discuss the issue with Tehran.
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
"The Treaty of Lisbon, expected to enter into force in 2010, introduces two new European top jobs: a high-profile president who will chair EU summit meetings for a two-and-a-half year term and a revamped foreign policy chief (see EurActive LinksDossier on 'Choosing Mr. Europe').
"In a widely-noted interview with Spanish daily El País, Jean-Marie Colombani, former editor of Le Monde, maintains that Sarkozy is pushing for former Spanish Prime Minister Felipe González to become the first EU president once the Lisbon Treaty is ratified.
"According to Colombani, Sarkozy has dropped his support for former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, among other reasons for "not having done anything" in his current capacity as special representative of the Middle East Quartet. Colombani claimed that Sarkozy "does not care" that González is a socialist, as he sees him first as a "man of ideas about Europe".
The European Council of 14 December 2007 decided to establish a "reflection group" of no more than nine people, selected from across the Union on the basis of merit, to identify the key issues and developments which the Union is likely to face in future and to analyse how these might be addressed.
Former Spanish Prime Minister Felipe Gonzalez was named chair of the group, while Vaira Viėe-Freiberga, a former president of Latvia, and Jorma Ollila, former CEO of Nokia, were named vice-chairs.
It was agreed that the chairman and vice-chairs should submit a list of names to be considered during the French EU Presidency.
Popular radio talk show host John Loeffler will be MY GUEST tonight on www.themicroeffect.com. We anticipate a lively conversation on the "Alliance of Civilizations." Join us live and in the chatroom. If you haven't already watched Rich Peterson's excellent video presentation showing its increasingly paced war on the rights of one to believe the fundamentals of their own religion true, click here to do so. We are on 5 p.m. Pacific time, 6 p.m. Mountain Time, 7 p.m. Central time, 8 p.m Eastern time. If you are in Alaska, however, it will be on at 4 p.m.
Thursday, June 18, 2009
MORE PIECES OF THE PUZZLE ON THE HI-JACKING OF EVANGELICALISM
Monday, June 15, 2009
Grady McMurtry, expert on creationism is my radio guest tonight.
There are two prophetically interesting stories in the Arab News -- both are dated today. The headlines are:
Sunday, June 14, 2009
SO MUCH IS HAPPENING -- SO FAST. I sure wish Herb Peters were still around to discuss this one and this one!
Thursday, June 11, 2009
Holocaust Museum Tragedy - Will it be "a crisis that equals opportunity" for Alliance of Civilizations?
Sunday, June 07, 2009
While searching for something else, I discovered that the United Nations has an Alliance of Civilizations Room at its Geneva, Switzerland headquarters. It was opened with an acceptance speech by UN Secretary General BanKi Moon last November 18, 2008. He gave thanks to the King and Queen of Spain as well as an ONUART FOUNDATION for their generosity in its establishment. Here's the text of the UN Press release. Looks like given Barack Obama's endorsement, Javier Solana's continuing push, and the "Group of Friends" [fiends?] "implementation plan" that this obvious New World Religion implementation device may well be here to stay awhile. I think Rich Peterson may very well be right when he says, "they're not playing this time . . ."
I can't help but notice that November 18th was very close to that time in November when Javier Solana usually received what Herb Peters referred to as "Javier Solana's November presents." Hmmm????
"Farmer" (Björn Freiberg) had material up about the Alliance of Civilizations Room and the Onuart Foundation in his archives. He noted that Javier Solana's brother Luis had a connection with the Onuart Foundation. You can read Bjorn's work by clicking here. The November 18th remarks by the UN Secretary General are below and can be accessed on the web by clicking here:
Let me pay tribute to Your Majesties King Juan Carlos and Queen Sophia of Spain for this generous gift to the United Nations. This is yet another demonstration of Spain's enduring commitment to the values and the mission of the United Nations.
Let me also thank Prime Minister Zapatero, Foreign Minister Moratinos and the Spanish Government. The close interest you took in the project was instrumental to its success.
I am grateful to the ONUART Foundation and all its patrons and partners for their contributions. ONUART is a valuable example of a public-private partnership. Engaging the private sector is crucial to the success of the United Nations.
To the artist, Miquel Barceló, thank you for putting your unique talents to work in service of the world. The artwork you have created for this room is absolutely innovative and radiant. I have no doubt that people will come to see it whether they have business here or not.
I also thank the President of the Swiss Confederation for being present, and for Switzerland’s firm support for the United Nations in Geneva and across the world. I know you are as thrilled as we are by this new addition to the Palais de Nations, which is an exceptional landmark not only for Geneva, but for the entire international community.
It is very appropriate that this chamber has been named the Human Rights and Alliance of Civilizations Room.
Human rights are a fundamental part of the work of the United Nations and of the Organization’s very identity. Respect for human rights is the indispensable foundation for lasting peace and sustainable development. I am pleased to be inaugurating this room on the eve of the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights. The anniversary is an opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to the principles of the Declaration and to redouble our efforts to make them a reality for all.
The Alliance of Civilizations, for its part, is a very important and practical initiative that is linked intrinsically to human rights, and which has already succeeded in overcoming barriers of distrust. We see, almost on a daily basis, the polarizing impact of prejudice and suspicion among the peoples of the world. Spain and Turkey have played a dynamic role as convenors of the Alliance. I thank Prime Minister Erdoðan of Turkey for his presence today, and for Turkey’s continued strong commitment and leadership of the initiative. And I commend the Group of Friends of the Alliance, many of whom are represented today, for their role in advancing dialogue, mutual respect and the other objectives of the initiative.
I very much look forward to the discussions and decision-making that will take place in this room. The design itself might be thought of as a metaphor for our work. The colours look different depending on where you are seated. That reminds me of the old saying about politics, “where you stand depends on where you sit”.
The correlation to multilateralism is clear. Countries and people have different perspectives on the challenges we face. As they discuss these matters, they can come to appreciate the different dimensions of a problem. And just as we might need to spend some time in this room, and look at the design from different angles in order to see it completely, so must we have a full range of views if we are to properly address global challenges.
And indeed, multilateral solutions are more necessary than ever. From the financial crisis to climate change and the Millennium Development Goals, the time has come to take multilateralism to a new, stronger and more inclusive level.
At the G-20 meeting this past Saturday, I stressed the need for global solidarity. The next month offers two important tests. At the Financing for Development conference in Doha later this month, we have a chance to rejuvenate the global partnership for development. And in December, climate change negotiators meeting in Poland have a chance to take crucial steps towards an agreement on this existential threat.
Like those rooms where leaders gather, this room will be a forum in which all countries, large and small, developed and developing, can air their grievances, highlight their aspirations, and hopefully, in the end, find consensus.
I understand that the construction of this magnificent dome involved techniques that were never used before, and that materials were used in new combinations. We can see the results. They are stunning.
In that spirit, let us bring the same sense of innovation to the work that will now take place here. Let us not settle for the status quo, but instead be visionary, creative and bold.
This Human Rights and Alliance of Civilizations Room is a wonderful addition to the United Nations that will capture the imagination of all who will work here. I again thank everyone involved in bringing it into being”.
For use of the information media; not an official record
Friday, June 05, 2009
"In fact, faith should bring us together. And that's why we're forging service projects in America to bring together Christians, Muslims, and Jews. That's why we welcome efforts like Saudi Arabian King Abdullah's interfaith dialogue and Turkey's leadership in the Alliance of Civilizations. Around the world, we can turn dialogue into interfaith service, so bridges between peoples lead to action -- whether it is combating malaria in Africa, or providing relief after a natural disaster . . . "
I am honoured to be in the timeless city of Cairo, and to be hosted by two remarkable institutions. For over 1,000 years, Al-Azhar has stood as a beacon of Islamic learning, and for over a century, Cairo University has been a source of Egypt's advancement. Together, you represent the harmony between tradition and progress. I am grateful for your hospitality, and the hospitality of the people of Egypt. I am also proud to carry with me the goodwill of the American people, and a greeting of peace from Muslim communities in my country: assalaamu alaykum.
Violent extremists have exploited these tensions in a small but potent minority of Muslims. The attacks of September 11th, 2001, and the continued efforts of these extremists to engage in violence against civilians has led some in my country to view
Islam as inevitably hostile not only to America and Western countries, but also to human rights. This has bred more fear and mistrust.
Part of this conviction is rooted in my own experience. I am a Christian, but my father came from a Kenyan family that includes generations of Muslims. As a boy, I spent several years in Indonesia and heard the call of the azaan at the break of dawn and the fall of dusk. As a young man, I worked in Chicago communities where many found dignity and peace in their Muslim faith.
As a student of history, I also know civilization's debt to Islam. It was Islam at places like Al-Azhar University that carried the light of learning through so many centuries, paving the way for Europe's Renaissance and Enlightenment. It was innovation in Muslim communities that developed the order of algebra; our magnetic compass and tools of navigation; our mastery of pens and printing; our understanding of how disease spreads and how it can be healed.
I know, too, that Islam has always been a part of America's story. The first nation to recognise my country was Morocco. In signing the Treaty of Tripoli in 1796, our second President John Adams wrote: "The United States has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion or tranquility of Muslims."
But that same principle must apply to Muslim perceptions of America. Just as Muslims do not fit a crude stereotype, America is not the crude stereotype of a self-interested empire. The United States has been one of the greatest sources of progress that the world has ever known. We were born out of revolution against an empire. We were founded upon the ideal that all are created equal, and we have shed blood and struggled for centuries to give meaning to those words within our borders, and around the world. We are shaped by every culture, drawn from every end of the Earth, and dedicated to a simple concept: Epluribus unum: "Out of many, one."
Moreover, freedom in America is indivisible from the freedom to practice one's religion. That is why there is a mosque in every state of our union, and over 1,200 mosques within our borders. That is why the US government has gone to court to protect the right of women and girls to wear the hijab, and to punish those who would deny it.
Of course, recognising our common humanity is only the beginning of our task. Words alone cannot meet the needs of our people. These needs will be met only if we act boldly in the years ahead; and if we understand that the challenges we face are shared, and our failure to meet them will hurt us all.
For we have learned from recent experience that when a financial system weakens in one country, prosperity is hurt everywhere. When a new flu infects one human being, all are at risk. When one nation pursues a nuclear weapon, the risk of nuclear attack rises for all nations. When violent extremists operate in one stretch of mountains, people are endangered across an ocean. And when innocents in Bosnia and Darfur are slaughtered, that is a stain on our collective conscience. That is what it means to share this world in the 21st century. That is the responsibility we have to one another as human beings.
This is a difficult responsibility to embrace. For human history has often been a record of nations and tribes subjugating one another to serve their own interests. Yet in this new age, such attitudes are self-defeating. Given our interdependence, any world order that elevates one nation or group of people over another will inevitably fail. So whatever we think of the past, we must not be prisoners of it. Our problems must be dealt with through partnership; progress must be shared.
That does not mean we should ignore sources of tension. Indeed, it suggests the opposite: we must face these tensions squarely. And so in that spirit, let me speak as clearly and plainly as I can about some specific issues that I believe we must finally confront together.
In Ankara, I made clear that America is not and never will be at war with Islam. We will, however, relentlessly confront violent extremists who pose a grave threat to our security.
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.
Make no mistake: We do not want to keep our troops in Afghanistan. We seek no military bases there. It is agonising for America to lose our young men and women. It is costly and politically difficult to continue this conflict. We would gladly bring every single one of our troops home if we could be confident that there were not violent extremists in Afghanistan and Pakistan determined to kill as many Americans as they possibly can. But that is not yet the case.
That's why we're partnering with a coalition of 46 countries. And despite the costs involved, America's commitment will not weaken. Indeed, none of us should tolerate these extremists. They have killed in many countries. They have killed people of different faiths more than any other, they have killed Muslims. Their actions are irreconcilable with the rights of human beings, the progress of nations, and with Islam.
Today, America has a dual responsibility: to help Iraq forge a better future - and to leave Iraq to Iraqis. I have made it clear to the Iraqi people that we pursue no bases, and no claim on their territory or resources. Iraq's sovereignty is its own.
That is why I ordered the removal of our combat brigades by next August. That is why we will honour our agreement with Iraq's democratically elected government to remove combat troops from Iraqi cities by July, and to remove all our troops from Iraq by 2012. We will help Iraq train its security forces and develop its economy. But we will support a secure and united Iraq as a partner, and never as a patron.
And finally, just as America can never tolerate violence by extremists, we must never alter our principles. 9/11 was an enormous trauma to our country. The fear and anger that it provoked was understandable, but in some cases, it led us to act contrary to our ideals. We are taking concrete actions to change course. I have unequivocally prohibited the use of torture by the United States, and I have ordered the prison at Guantanamo Bay closed by early next year.
So America will defend itself respectful of the sovereignty of nations and the rule of law. And we will do so in partnership with Muslim communities which are also threatened. The sooner the extremists are isolated and unwelcome in Muslim communities, the sooner we will all be safer.
The second major source of tension that we need to discuss is the situation between Israelis, Palestinians and the Arab world.
America's strong bonds with Israel are well known. This bond is unbreakable. It is based upon cultural and historical ties, and the recognition that the aspiration for a Jewish homeland is rooted in a tragic history that cannot be denied.
On the other hand, it is also undeniable that the Palestinian people, Muslims and Christians, have suffered in pursuit of a homeland. For more than 60 years they have endured the pain of dislocation. Many wait in refugee camps in the West Bank, Gaza, and neighbouring lands for a life of peace and security that they have never been able to lead. They endure the daily humiliations large and small that come with occupation. So let there be no doubt: the situation for the Palestinian people is intolerable. America will not turn our backs on the legitimate Palestinian aspiration for dignity, opportunity, and a state of their own.
For decades, there has been a stalemate: two peoples with legitimate aspirations, each with a painful history that makes compromise elusive. It is easy to point fingers for Palestinians to point to the displacement brought by Israel's founding, and for Israelis to point to the constant hostility and attacks throughout its history from within its borders as well as beyond. But if we see this conflict only from one side or the other, then we will be blind to the truth: the only resolution is for the aspirations of both sides to be met through two states, where Israelis and Palestinians each live in peace and security.
That is in Israel's interest, Palestine's interest, America's interest, and the world's interest. That is why I intend to personally pursue this outcome with all the patience that the task requires. The obligations that the parties have agreed to under the road map are clear. For peace to come, it is time for them and all of us to live up to our responsibilities.
Palestinians must abandon violence. Resistance through violence and killing is wrong and does not succeed. For centuries, black people in America suffered the lash of the whip as slaves and the humiliation of segregation. But it was not violence that won full and equal rights. It was a peaceful and determined insistence upon the ideals at the centre of America's founding.
This same story can be told by people from South Africa to South Asia; from Eastern Europe to Indonesia. It's a story with a simple truth: that violence is a dead end. It is a sign of neither courage nor power to shoot rockets at sleeping children, or to blow up old women on a bus. That is not how moral authority is claimed; that is how it is surrendered. Now is the time for Palestinians to focus on what they can build. The Palestinian Authority must develop its capacity to govern, with institutions that serve the needs of its people.
Hamas does have support among some Palestinians, but they also have responsibilities. To play a role in fulfilling Palestinian aspirations, and to unify the Palestinian people, Hamas must put an end to violence, recognise past agreements, and recognise Israel's right to exist.
At the same time, Israelis must acknowledge that just as Israel's right to exist cannot be denied, neither can Palestine's. The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements. This construction violates previous agreements and undermines efforts to achieve peace. It is time for these settlements to stop.
Finally, the Arab states must recognise that the Arab Peace Initiative was an important beginning, but not the end of their responsibilities. The Arab-Israeli conflict should no longer be used to distract the people of Arab nations from other problems.
Instead, it must be a cause for action to help the Palestinian people develop the institutions that will sustain their state; to recognise Israel's legitimacy; and to choose progress over a self-defeating focus on the past.
America will align our policies with those who pursue peace, and say in public what we say in private to Israelis and Palestinians and Arabs. We cannot impose peace. But privately, many Muslims recognise that Israel will not go away. Likewise, many Israelis recognise the need for a Palestinian state. It is time for us to act on what everyone knows to be true.
The third source of tension is our shared interest in the rights and responsibilities of nations on nuclear weapons. This issue has been a source of tension between the United States and the Islamic Republic of Iran. For many years, Iran has defined itself in part by its opposition to my country, and there is indeed a tumultuous history between us. In the middle of the Cold War, the United States played a role in the overthrow of a democratically elected Iranian government. Since the Islamic Revolution, Iran has played a role in acts of hostage-taking and violence against US troops and civilians.
This history is well known. Rather than remain trapped in the past, I have made it clear to Iran's leaders and people that my country is prepared to move forward. The question, now, is not what Iran is against, but rather what future it wants to build.
It will be hard to overcome decades of mistrust, but we will proceed with courage, rectitude and resolve. There will be many issues to discuss between our two countries, and we are willing to move forward without preconditions on the basis of mutual respect. But it is clear to all concerned that when it comes to nuclear weapons, we have reached a decisive point. This is not simply about America's interests. It is about preventing a nuclear arms race in the Middle East that could lead this region and the world down a hugely dangerous path.
I understand those who protest that some countries have weapons that others do not. No single nation should pick and choose which nations hold nuclear weapons. That is why I strongly reaffirmed America's commitment to seek a world in which no nations hold nuclear weapons. And any nation - including Iran - should have the right to access peaceful nuclear power if it complies with its responsibilities under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. That commitment is at the core of the treaty, and it must be kept for all who fully abide by it. And I am hopeful that all countries in the region can share in this goal.
The fourth issue that I will address is democracy. I know there has been controversy about the promotion of democracy in recent years, and much of this controversy is connected to the war in Iraq. So let me be clear: no system of government can or should be imposed upon one nation by any other.
That does not lessen my commitment, however, to governments that reflect the will of the people. Each nation gives life to this principle in its own way, grounded in the traditions of its own people. America does not presume to know what is best for everyone, just as we would not presume to pick the outcome of a peaceful election. But I do have an unyielding belief that all people yearn for certain things: the ability to speak your mind and have a say in how you are governed; confidence in the rule of law and the equal administration of justice; government that is transparent and doesn't steal from the people; the freedom to live as you choose. Those are not just American ideas, they are human rights, and that is why we will support them everywhere.
There is no straight line to realise this promise. But this much is clear: governments that protect these rights are ultimately more stable, successful and secure. Suppressing ideas never succeeds in making them go away. America respects the right of all peaceful and law-abiding voices to be heard around the world, even if we disagree with them. And we will welcome all elected, peaceful governments provided they govern with respect for all their people.
This last point is important because there are some who advocate for democracy only when they are out of power; once in power, they are ruthless in suppressing the rights of others. No matter where it takes hold, government of the people and by the people sets a single standard for all who hold power: you must maintain your power through consent, not coercion; you must respect the rights of minorities, and participate with a spirit of tolerance and compromise; you must place the interests of your people and the legitimate workings of the political process above your party. Without these ingredients, elections alone do not make true democracy.
The fifth issue that we must address together is religious freedom.
Islam has a proud tradition of tolerance. We see it in the history of Andalusia and Cordoba during the Inquisition. I saw it firsthand as a child in Indonesia, where devout Christians worshipped freely in an overwhelmingly Muslim country. That is the spirit we need today.
People in every country should be free to choose and live their faith based upon the persuasion of the mind, heart, and soul. This tolerance is essential for religion to thrive, but it is being challenged in many different ways.
Among some Muslims, there is a disturbing tendency to measure one's own faith by the rejection of another's. The richness of religious diversity must be upheld whether it is for Maronites in Lebanon or the Copts in Egypt. And faultlines must be closed among Muslims as well, as the divisions between Sunni and Shia have led to tragic violence, particularly in Iraq.
Freedom of religion is central to the ability of peoples to live together. We must always examine the ways in which we protect it. For instance, in the United States, rules on charitable giving have made it harder for Muslims to fulfil their religious obligation. That is why I am committed to working with American Muslims to ensure that they can fulfil zakat.
Likewise, it is important for Western countries to avoid impeding Muslim citizens from practicing religion as they see fit for instance, by dictating what clothes a Muslim woman should wear. We cannot disguise hostility towards any religion behind the pretence of liberalism. Indeed, faith should bring us together. That is why we are forging service projects in America that bring together Christians, Muslims, and Jews. That is why we welcome efforts like Saudi Arabian King Abdullah's interfaith dialogue and Turkey's leadership in the Alliance of Civilisations. Around the world, we can turn dialogue into interfaith service, so bridges between peoples lead to action whether it is combating malaria in Africa, or providing relief after a natural disaster.
The sixth issue that I want to address is women's rights. I know there is debate about this issue. I reject the view of some in the West that a woman who chooses to cover her hair is somehow less equal, but I do believe that a woman who is denied an education is denied equality. And it is no coincidence that countries where women are well-educated are far more likely to be prosperous.
Now let me be clear: issues of women's equality are by no means simply an issue for Islam. In Turkey, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Indonesia, we have seen Muslim-majority countries elect a woman to lead. Meanwhile, the struggle for women's equality continues in many aspects of American life, and in countries around the world.
Our daughters can contribute just as much to society as our sons, and our common prosperity will be advanced by allowing all humanity, men and women, to reach their full potential. I do not believe that women must make the same choices as men in order to be equal, and I respect those women who choose to live their lives in traditional roles. But it should be their choice. That is why the United States will partner with any Muslim-majority country to support expanded literacy for girls, and to help young women pursue employment through micro-financing that helps people live their dreams.
Finally, I want to discuss economic development and opportunity. I know that for many, the face of globalisation is contradictory. The internet and television can bring knowledge and information, but also offensive sexuality and mindless violence. Trade can bring new wealth and opportunities, but also huge disruptions and changing communities. In all nations, including my own, this change can bring fear. Fear that because of modernity we will lose control over our economic choices, our politics, and most importantly our identities - those things we most cherish about our communities, our families, our traditions, and our faith.
But I also know that human progress cannot be denied. There need not be contradiction between development and tradition. Countries like Japan and South Korea grew their economies while maintaining distinct cultures. The same is true for the astonishing progress within Muslim-majority countries from Kuala Lumpur to Dubai. In ancient times and in our times, Muslim communities have been at the forefront of innovation and education.
This is important because no development strategy can be based only upon what comes out of the ground, nor can it be sustained while young people are out of work. Many Gulf states have enjoyed great wealth as a consequence of oil, and some are beginning to focus it on broader development. But all of us must recognise that education and innovation will be the currency of the 21st century, and in too many Muslim communities there remains under-investment in these areas. I am emphasising such investments within my country. And while America in the past has focused on oil and gas in this part of the world, we now seek a broader engagement.
On education, we will expand exchange programmes, and increase scholarships, like the one that brought my father to America, while encouraging more Americans to study in Muslim communities. And we will match promising Muslim students with internships in America; invest in online learning for teachers and children around the world; and create a new online network, so a teenager in Kansas can communicate instantly with a teenager in Cairo. On economic development, we will create a new corps of business volunteers to partner with counterparts in Muslim-majority countries. And I will host a Summit on Entrepreneurship this year to identify how we can deepen ties between business leaders, foundations and social entrepreneurs in the United States and Muslim communities around the world.
On science and technology, we will launch a new fund to support technological development in Muslim-majority countries, and to help transfer ideas to the marketplace so they can create jobs. We will open centres of scientific excellence in Africa, the Middle East and Southeast Asia, and appoint new Science Envoys to collaborate on programmes that develop new sources of energy, create green jobs, digitise records, clean water, and grow new crops. And today I am announcing a new global effort with the Organisation of the Islamic Conference to eradicate polio. And we will also expand partnerships with Muslim communities to promote child and maternal health.
All these things must be done in partnership. Americans are ready to join with citizens and governments; community organisations, religious leaders, and businesses in Muslim communities around the world to help our people pursue a better life.
The issues that I have described will not be easy to address. But we have a responsibility to join together on behalf of the world we seek - a world where extremists no longer threaten our people, and American troops have come home; a world where Israelis and Palestinians are each secure in a state of their own, and nuclear energy is used for peaceful purposes; a world where governments serve their citizens, and the rights of all God's children are respected. Those are mutual interests.
That is the world we seek. But we can only achieve it together. I know there are many, Muslim and non-Muslim, who question whether we can forge this new beginning. Some are eager to stoke the flames of division, and to stand in the way of progress. Some suggest that it isn't worth the effort that we are fated to disagree, and civilisations are doomed to clash. Many more are simply sceptical that real change can occur. There is so much fear, so much mistrust. But if we choose to be bound by the past, we will never move forward. And I want to particularly say this to young people of every faith, in every country, you, more than anyone, have the ability to remake this world. All of us share this world for but a brief moment in time.
The question is whether we spend that time focused on what pushes us apart, or whether we commit ourselves to an effort, a sustained effort, to find common ground, to focus on the future we seek for our children, and to respect the dignity of all human beings.
It is easier to start wars than to end them. It is easier to blame others than to look inward; to see what is different about someone than to find the things we share. But we should choose the right path, not just the easy path. There is also one rule that lies at the heart of every religion that we do unto others as we would have them do unto us. This truth transcends nations and peoples a belief that isn't new; that isn't black or white or brown; that isn't Christian, or Muslim or Jew. It's a belief that pulsed in the cradle of civilisation, and that still beats in the heart of billions. It's a faith in other people, and it's what brought me here today.
We have the power to make the world we seek, but only if we have the courage to make a new beginning, keeping in mind what has been written.
The Holy Quran tells us, "O mankind! We have created you male and a female; and we have made you into nations and tribes so that you may know one another." The Talmud tells us: "The whole of the Torah is for the purpose of promoting peace."
The Holy Bible tells us, "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God." The people of the world can live together in peace. We know that is God's vision. Now, that must be our work here on Earth.
Thank you and may God's peace be upon you.
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