Saturday, July 26, 2008

The Chosen One from the Land of the Frozen Sun

Barack Obama’s election as president, many American commentators argue, would immediately improve America's image abroad. My friend Theo wrote about street level support for Obama in Cairo. In decidedly unscientific polling during my time in Salalah, people seem to like the idea of Obama winning too.

I think this might be changing after his recent trip to Israel. Thursday’s edition of Al-Shabiba carried this image on the front page with a headline of “Obama in Sderot: Jerusalem is the Capital of Israel!” The picture with the article has Obama holding up the Sderot version of the “I Heart NY” shirts, which reads "I heart Sderot" with a Qassam rocket piercing the heart.

The continuation of the story inside the paper features a picture of Obama smiling with right-wing Likud Party leader Bibi Netanyahu. The headline reads, “Obama promises to support Israel if elected President!” Yes, both headlines end with exclamation points and, just a hint, it’s not out of joy.

Obama’s comments about Israel fly in the face of Palestinian hopes to establish the capital of a future state in a part of Jerusalem. And even Barack’s million dollar smile probably can’t compensate for an appearance with Netanyahu whose Likud Party advocates continued illegal settlements in the West Bank, especially when the caption of the photo reads "Obama and Netanyahu: a smile of contentment and agreement."

For many in the Middle East, Obama’s actions don’t seem to reflect a change (we can believe in) in U.S. involvement in Israeli-Palestine. Even some Americans are growing anxious that Barack might actually mean what he's saying. But one thing we can be sure of: McCain’s absurd allegation that Obama was endorsed by Hamas – malicious and spurious in the first place – is most certainly not true now.

And maybe that’s the point. Like Hillary, who had to out-men the men in order to prove her fitness for duty, Barack might have to out-hawk the hawks, at least in the case of Israel.

1 comment:

Hala said...
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