Saturday, November 8, 2008

Arab Bloggers Size Up Obama

The New York Times website has compiled the reaction of several Arab bloggers from the Middle East to the election of Barack Obama to the US presidency.

After reading several segments of this New York Times article, I feel that the Arabs of the Middle East are experiencing a great sense of hope -- a hope for a change in the United State' policy toward Arabs and Muslims, though they retain some reservations. All of the commentators in the Times article had viewed President-elect Barack Obama's speech at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) conference and had viewed Vice-President-elect Joseph Biden state that he is a Zionist. Some reservations had also been expressed about the appointment of US Congressman Rahm Emanuel (D-Illinois) as Obama's Chief-of-Staff.

Overall, they have expressed positive feeling about Obama. If Obama follows-through on his promises to gradually withdraw US troops from Iraq, I believe the Arab world will continue to admire him. I hope Obama will be able to use and credibility that he may establish with the Arab/Muslim world to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian issue.

I am uncertain if their attitude revolves around happiness that the Bush Administration is about to end, and that it won't be followed by a new one led by Senator John McCain, who they seem to perceive as either a continuation of Bush policy, or a new type of 'hard-line' American policy (unfavorable to their supposed interests and favorable to those of Israel). However, they all recognize the historical significance of Obama's election.

Their hope recalls a segment from Thomas Friedman's From Beirut to Jerusalem, in which large segments of the Lebanese population were overjoyed that the Americans were trying to bring peace and prosperity to Lebanon. America obviously failed there, but since that part of the world once viewed the US as a beacon of hope, freedom and democracy, it seems that they are beginning to so regard it again. There is a glimmer of hope that the Arabs (along with other peoples of the world) won't be afraid to call themselves friends of the US.

Realistically speaking, before Obama can begin to focus on the Middle East, he'll have to deal with the American economy. So those that express a hope in his policies will need to be patient. I have high hopes for him (perhaps unreasonably so, I admit). So we all will need to be patient. The wheels of progress, like those of history, turn slowly.

One of the blogs the NY Times presented a portion of is I took a quick look at it -- it seems to be a good source for news about the Middle East. It also seems as if a vibrant community gathers there to discuss that region.

(edited by Hersch Bernkovsky)

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