Obamizing the Middle East

When President Obama was elected, many Israelis fretted that he would side with Palestinians, while the majority of Palestinians were elated.

When Obama selected Rahm Emmanuel as his Chief of Staff, Palestinians were devastated and paralyzed in fear, while Israelis celebrated Rahm’s service in the Israeli Defense Forces.

And so on, with every appointment or every announcement by the Obama Administration, Middle Easterners have interpreted the signals as a game of ping-pong – a score for this side or the other.

If Obama is to score a historic agreement among Israel and Palestine, and between Israel and the Arab and Muslim World, his task first and foremost is to do to the Middle East what he did to the American landscape – i.e., to Obamize the Middle East.

Obama was elected because he rejected false paradigms of division and helped people celebrate their human commonalities.

And so in the Middle East, Obama’s philosophy has been to show that if we work together, it will not be for the benefit of one side at the expense of the other, but humanity’s benefit and that of both sides.

Obama’s transformation is moving at a faster pace than anyone anticipated.

This week, moderates in Lebanon rejected the charismatic but divisive policies of Hezbollah’s Sheikh Nasrallah, instead reaffirming a parliamentary majority for the pro-Western government. 

Obama may be in for yet another influential game-changer, after his poignant speech in Cairo, if next week Iranians elected a reformer to dethrone Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as President.  Yes, the Iranian President may not be the Supreme Leader of Iran.  But he certainly wielded enormous (negative) global influence and a rebuke of his vision will be refreshing and encouraging to the world order.

Now hopefully Israelis and Palestinians will also press their governments to stop dillydallying and once and for all deliver a realistic agreement for a two state solution.

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  1. Katie said:

    On a related note, Jeremy Pressman’s piece “The Best Hope – Still?”, online at Boston Review, similarly looks at Obama’s speech in Cairo and examines alternative peaceful solutions. Pressman agrees with Daniel and President Obama, that ultimately a two-state solution is the best outcome for Israel and Palestine.

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