How not to let the people of the Middle East down

From the introduction to a compendium of comments in Arab blogs that appeared in the New York Times, by Josie Delap:

Barack Obama’s election in the United States has fired imaginations around the globe, perhaps nowhere more than in the Middle East, where people wonder how the future president’s approach to the Arab world will differ from that of his predecessor.

For the moment, Arabs are mainly excited about Mr. Obama’s victory, and have much good will toward him and the country that chose him. But Middle Easterners are more skeptical than anyone else about American politicians and their intentions, and already it seems Mr. Obama is no exception.

His speech during the primaries to Aipac, the powerful pro-Israel lobby group, did little to assuage fears that America will continue to support Israel unconditionally. And there remains a more general anxiety that, like previous American presidents, Mr. Obama will somehow let the people of the Middle East down.

May I remind Ms. Delap that “the people of the Middle East” include Israelis?

It is apparently easy for some Arabs and their supporters to believe that Israel continues to exist despite their best efforts, just because America stands behind her. And that their problems would go away if Israel did.

There are many excuses for every Arab problem: lack of development and conflict are blamed on colonialism, Zionism, Israel, the US. But the sooner Arabs accept their portion of responsibility, the sooner things will get better.

An American President who makes it clear to the Arabs that they need to give up their dream of  a world without Israel and start trying to solve problems — like the situation of the Palestinian ‘refugees’ — instead of exacerbating them, would do a great service for all the people of the Middle East.

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One Response to “How not to let the people of the Middle East down”

  1. Shalom Freedman says:

    I believe President Obama will speak in a friendly fashion to the Arab and Islamic worlds. He will tell them that the United States wants positive relationships with them. In regard to the ‘Palestinian Arabs’ he will say that he is going to work to bring about a Palestinian state. He will also tell them that for this to happen, they must decide to recognize Israel and live in peace with it. He will also tell Iran that the United States wishes friendly relations with it, but will not brook a nuclear Iran.
    I suspect he will get anything but a uniform response- but perhaps more effort to go along with him, and win American support.
    I think it most important that Israel act with , toughness in standing on our own interests but also with honesty and fairness. I believe, or rather want to hope that the United States under President Obama will not be involved in distortions which sugar- coat Arab and Islamic actions.