Perhaps most remarkably, Obama did not pair that recitation of a fundamentally pro-Israel narrative with an equal but opposite recitation of the Palestinian narrative -- the themes of rootlessness, humiliation, and dispossession that he has cited on previous occasions. (In last year's UN address, for example, he said: "This time, we will think not of ourselves, but of the young girl in Gaza who wants to have no ceiling on her dreams, or the young boy in Sderot who wants to sleep without the nightmare of rocket fire.") Instead, with no discussion of Israeli settlement activity, building in Jerusalem, or the difficulties of Palestinian movement through checkpoints, Obama limited himself to one side of the story.
As a descriptive statement, that's completely correct. But it would have been helpful if Satloff explained what was wrong with last year's U.N. address. Because that excerpt is precisely the kind of example where moral equivalence is, well, necessary.
Yes, yes, I know: "moral equivalence" is a horrible rhetorical mistake, the handmaiden of useful idiocy, etc. But that's only true when an equivalence is drawn between unequal moral claimants. Here, however, the girl in Gaza and the boy in Sderot are equal moral claimants. She really does have the right to freedom and security. He really does have the right to freedom and security. It would be a moral lapse not to draw an equivalence between them.
Satloff is unquestionably correct that Obama went before the United Nations and told Israel's story. But left unsaid is what the girl in Gaza thought about that. If she ever thought the United States took her plight seriously, what must she think now?