Barack Obama inherited what might generously be considered to be a “mess” in dealing with conflicts within the Middle East. In an interview with al-Arabiya, the Saudi based rival to al-Jazeera, President Obama insisted his nation was not an enemy of the Muslim people and he promised to adhere to a “language of respect” in dealing with issues of concern to the Muslim people. He admitted mistakes had been made but did not delve into how Bush had fouled up the situation in the region. Many viewers were disappointed that he once again reaffirmed his nation’s support of Israel, but made no mention of the invasion of Gaza and the death of hundreds of civilians.
It is time for an American president to state openly and honestly that his nation has committed mistakes in the Middle East, and that peace between Israel and Palestinians requires concessions on the part of both parties. He must, at some point, tell the people of Israel they can not remain on the West Bank, but must return it to the Palestinian people and Israel must agree that east Jerusalem is the capital of the new Palestinian state. In return, Obama must make clear to Palestinians they can not lob rockets into Israel, and they must recognize its existence and end all forms of discrimination against Israel.