I’m happy that Barack Obama is president. I, like the millions, if not billions of people around the world, watched Barack Obama’s inauguration. It was a historic moment and one that can not be interpreted as anything but positive. Having an intelligent, capable son of an immigrant become president of the United States is a good thing. Many people believe, as I do, that at the very least Obama will bring positive change to America. I know a lot of Arabs and Palestinians are skeptical, even pessimistic that he’ll bring welcomed change to American foreign policy towards the Middle East, particularly the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Many, including myself, were dismayed at his silence during the Israeli assault on Gaza. While Obama’s policy towards the conflict may not change that much from his predecessors (we don’t know yet), we can’t blame foreign leaders for not helping us out when Palestinian and Arab leaders aren’t helping their own people.
There’s no doubt that if there is ever to be a just solution to the conflict, the United States must play an integral role; being that Israel is the recipient of more military and financial aid from the United States than anyone else in the world. But I’m fed up with a lot of Arabs being so negative about Obama’s presidency. If we are to be skeptical and negative about anything it is the Palestinian and Arab leadership. We can’t blame the United States for continuing to support Israel when, in light of the Israeli assault on Gaza, Arab leaders like Abdullah and Mubarak continue to have normal relations with Israel. When other Arab countries continue to have trade relations with Israel. When Abbas continues to follow Israel’s lead. It’s just hypocritical to blame others when Arab leaders are doing nothing. Even when they meet, Arab leaders can’t agree on putting out a measly statement. It’s pathetic.
With Palestinians divided between Hamas and Fatah loyalties and with having an incompetent president in Abbas, we need our own Obama. There’s never been a more appropriate time. Palestinians need someone who can unite them and inspire them. We haven’t had a leader like that. Many believe that Arafat was a great leader but he was no doubt a terrible politician. We need someone who is youthful, intelligent, cunning and who understands the changing ways of the world. We need someone who is not willing ot succumb to outside pressure and knows what is best for Palestinians as a whole. I have to believe that a future leader like that exists somewhere out there in Palestine.
I may be naive, but I am optimistic about the next four years with Obama as president. For one thing, things can’t get any worse as they have been under eight years of Bush. While that is certainly setting the bar pretty low, at least Obama has made an effort to reach out to the Muslim world and has conveyed the message that diplomacy, not military action, should be the way to towards ending conflicts. We shall see in the next few weeks and months what the Obama administration will do regarding the Middle East. In the meantime, I’ll be waiting for the Palestinian Obama.