Tag Archives: Middle East

Unconditional Support For Israel Damages That Nation

During the past half century America had two firm allies in the Middle East in the governments of Israel and Turkey. The Bush administration adopted a policy of unconditional support for Israel despite mistakes on the part of Israel leaders based on the assumption any sign of disagreement with Israel would be disastrous for peace in the region. Israel’s close relationship with Turkey was based on working in alliance with Turkish military officials as well as the sympathy of many government officials. However, the vast majority of Turks did not regard Israel as either a friend or ally. Such a delicate situation had many dangers and Israel’s invasion of Gaza was the last straw. One Israel Defense Forces entered Gaza and unleashed the power of their arms it created a violent reaction among ordinary Turkish people which finally compelled its civilian and military leaders to draw back from Israel.

Latest reports indicate Israelis are not vacationing in Turkey. This is typical Israel behavior–when criticized, draw back, go down into the bunker of ignorance and pretend the world is against us and we don’t need anyone. It is time for American officials to let Israel know their behavior is not acceptable if peace is the goal. It is time to take a tough stand against Israel in order to protect itself against its own mistakes.

These words are written by someone who has studied in Israel, has worked in Holocaust education and dearly cares about the future of Israel. But, it is time for Israelis to admit mistakes, take corrective action, and, above all, get the damn settlers out of the West Bank.

Obama Reassures American Jewish Leaders

President Obama met with American Jewish leaders in an effort to allay fears his ideas would in any way damage the interests of Israel. Several of the leaders told the president his words have created an image in the media that Israel must do more than the Arabs in order assure that peace will be achieved in the Middle East. According to Ira Forman of the National Jewish Democratic Committee, the president repeatedly emphasized what he is asking of Israel is very difficult, but must be achieved. The group appeared divided over issues related to the West Bank. Obama reiterated his unshakable commitment to Israel’s security.

The presence of individuals who claim to respresent “American Jews” is rather arrogant. None has ever been elected by Jews, most are political hacks who have worked themselves up in the bureaucracy of an organization. There constituency is their organization, not American Jews. Most polls indicated the overwhelming majority of American Jews voted for Barack Obama and support his ideas. There is no indication most US Jews disagree on Obama’s ideas for peace in the Middle East.

Tony Blair–Man In The Middle Of A Diplomatic Fiasco?

There must be moments in the life of Tony Blair when he wonders how in God’s name did he wind up attempting to deal with the madness of the Israel-Palestinian dilemma? He is the envoy of the Quartet composed of the United States, Russia, the EU and the UN who seek to mediate the conflict in the Middle East. Blair will be meeting with a committee of the British Parliament to discuss what he has or has not accomplished over the past two years. Blair has met with new Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who insists he wants peace but is undecided about an independent Palestine. He has met with President Abbas of the Palestinian Authority which recently was engaged in a gun battle with Hamas forces that left six dead. We can say without fear of contradiction that Blair meets with a great number of people.

Israel and American relations have reached a new low because President Obama is committed to peace in the Middle East while Netanyahu is committed to maintaining the status quo–indefinitely, we presume. Blair has no power, he just wanders from place to place mumbling and talking and looking like he knows what he is doing. It reminds one of the man who actually believed George Bush knew something about WMD.

Middle Eastern Religious Dialogue Anything But Religious!

One of the most unreported topics in the Middle East has been failure on the part of religious leaders to assume the mantle of peace rather than of hate. The occasion of the visit by Pope Benedict was seen by peace activists as an opportunity for those of all religions to come together and speak of the importance of peace and forgiveness of the transgressions of others. Sheikh Tayseer Rajab Tamini, the chief Islamic judge of the Palestinian Authority had originally not been scheduled to speak, but he decided to make his views known and proceeded to engage in what Pope Benedict XVI felt was a venomous attack on Israel. The Pope’s response was to walk out of the interreligious dialogue.

Where are the rabbis and imams of peace? Where are religious leaders who can speak to their people of the need to forget the past and focus on current opportunities for peace? Here was an opportunity to express love and the importance of faith in the process of peace, but once again Muslim religious figures only proved they could be as pig headed and obstinate as their Jewish religious opponents. We can only assume these learned individuals who study religious documents believe God is on the side of hate and war.

Muslim Brotherhood Not Impressed With Obama

President Barack Obama will be visiting Egypt where he has promised to make an important speech addressed to the Muslim world, but the Muslim Brotherhood made clear at present it does not see evidence the American leader is any different from past presidents. Mohammed Habib, deputy leader of the MB said he was skeptical about Obama’s intentions and the trip would be “useless unless it is preceded by real change in the policies of the US administration toward the Arab and Islamic world.” The issue of Israel continues to be one that Arab leaders regard as critical if they are to accept there is real change in American Middle Eastern policy.

Habib said, “the US administration is attempting to recruit all the Arab states… to implement its permanent agenda that favors the Zionist entity.” The Brotherhood is banned in Egypt but its followers, despite difficulties imposed by the government, have gained at least 88 seats in Parliament and most probably have the support of a good percent of the Egyptian population.

Obama can make speeches addressed to the Muslim world but he will be ignored unless Israel changes its policies and agrees to the concept of a two state solution which includes an independent Palestine whose capital is in east Jerusalem. Can Obama pull it off is the question?

Muslims Not Receptive To Pope’s Visit

A few years ago, Pope Benedict XVI was giving a speech and quoted from a medieval text which referred to the Prophet Muhammad as violent. Middle Eastern Muslims are demanding the Pope apologize for the reference and promised not to regard his visit to the Holy Land as a welcome sight. A banner in Nazareth, the home town of Jesus condemns anyone who insults the Muslim religion or their prophet. Municipal officials refused to indicate if they would remove the banner prior to the Pope’s visit. Some Muslim clerics made clear they would not talk with him while others said they would engage in dialogue provided the Pope expressed his sorrow for the remark. Actually, the purpose of the Pope’s visit is to foster inter-faith relations.

There is something hypocritical about the Pope being compelled to apologize for remarks concerning a medieval comment. Read any Muslim newspaper in the Middle East and one encounters stories that are vicious in hostility toward Jews and Christians. Neither Jews nor Christians have any right to religion in nations like Saudi Arabia which apparently is OK with Muslim leaders who worry about medieval quotes. Visit any bookstore in the Middle East and get an inexpensive copy of Hitler’s books.

Riots In Greece As Immigrants Clash With Police

Greece has become a port of entry to migrants from Africa and the Middle East who seek to become part of the European Union success story. Yesterday, Greek police clashed with immigrants in the port of Patras after an immigrant was struck by a truck driver. The immigrants apparently thought it was a deliberate action and they poured into the streets in search of revenge. Patras has become a gathering point for immigrants from Africa, the Middle East and Asian immigrants who seek to hop across the Adriatic and find work in Italy. Last month there were demonstrations by truck drives who complained immigrants constantly sought to hitch rides and this frequently resulted in violence.

Perhaps, it is time for the African Union to sit down with the European Union in an effort to organize the process of immigration. This is not an issue that will disappear. In fact, as the economic crisis deepens we can expect even more violent demonstrations and anger on the part of all involved in the immigrant problem.

Indonesians Hail Obama, BUT!

President Susilo Yudhoyono hailed Obama’s assumption of power as the dawn of a new era in relations between the United States and his country, and also expressed hope there would be a more objective approach in dealing with problems in the Middle East. “I will work with him and other world leaders in any way we can to promote enduring peace and progress in our time.” However, the speaker of Indonesia’s legislature warned although Obama was better suited to work for Middle East peace it would require shifting from the Bush willingness to turn away from any mistake made by Israeli leaders. Golkar Party leader, Hairiyanto Thohari “it would be a mistake to think it could turn its back on the long history of favoring Israel” and the new president has to break with the past if there is to be peace.

The message is clear from many Muslim nations they seek an American president who is objective and seeks to work for a peace that meets the needs of both Muslims and Israelis.

Middle East Awaits Obama With Hope-Scepticism

The inauguration of Barack Obama as president was met with renewed hope from people in the Middle East as well as with some hesitation as to whether he would adopt an even handed approach to dealing with the Israel-Palestinian conflict. Saleh Al-Mohaisen, a Saudi from Riyadh, said he was “overjoyed” because “I felt he could understand Arab suffering” but also expressed disappointment at Obama’s failure to speak out against the Israel invasion of Gaza. “I love him despite his silence.”

During his inaugural speech, Obama sent a message to the Muslim world saying the US was seeking “a new way forward based on mutual interest and mutual respect” and offered to extend a helping hand to those who are willing “to unclench your fist.” Even while he was speaking a reporter on Al-Jazeera, cut into the live broadcast and said Obama’s word were in “sharp contrast” with those of Bush comments. Diaa Rashwan of the Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies in Cairo, said many average people would welcome Obama’s remarks that pointed a finger at those who rule by corruption and persecution since most Arabs believe he is citing the record of many rulers in the Middle East.

Reporters in Iraq found widespread hope the new president would undo the mistakes of Bush. Ali Salam, a store owner, said, “”this is real democracy and the results of the people’s struggle.” Muna Abdul-Razzaq, said bluntly, “We hope that Obama will be more responsible. In Iran, Mahnazi Abbasi, a housewife hoped the two nations would “resume relations and then we will be able to get a US visa and visit there.”

Most probably, high expectations in January may not be present in July after months have passed without resolution of many problems. It will take a desire for compromise on the part of Israel and Arab nations to achieve any sort of peace in the Middle East.

Obama Will Jaw, Jaw Before War War With Hamas!

The British, Guardian, reports its informants in the Obama camp suggest there has been extensive discussion within it about the need to open a dialogue with Hamas because the Bush strategy of ignoring reality only results in a policy that has scant reality with what is happening in the Middle East. There is no initial discussion among Obama strategists for recognizing Hamas but there is a belief in the need for low level contacts which will initiate dialogue with Hamas leaders. Richard Haass, who many believe is the choice of Obama for his Middle East envoy, supports discussions with Hamas. There is no doubt Obama recognizes the Bush policy of totally ignoring Hamas has produced absolutely no evidence of success.

The main task of Barack Obama at this point is to prevent the Gaza situation from becoming even more disastrous than the current situation. Obama hopes radical leadership in Hamas will either step aside or allow more realistic leaders to emerge who seek success rather than disaster. The only worse blunders than those made by Israeli leaders are the inept policy of Hamas leadership which seeks martyrdom over success.

Obama throughout the presidential campaign argued for a more even handed approach and one that focused on problem solving rather than on rhetoric.