Archive for the 'Other' Category

May 30 2009

what should Obama tell Muslims (my Washington post comment)

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Muslims and Arabs would like to hear a lot from President Obama, starting with Palestine, Iraq and the U.S. military presence in the Persian Gulf. While foreign policy is crucial, a sincere show of respect and attempt to rebuild trust are more important.

Palestine has become the litmus test for U.S. foreign policy because it has exposed U.S. hypocrisy. Examples of the double standard include U.S. bias toward Israel while it claims to be an honest broker, its push for “democracy” while rejecting the results of Palestinian elections, and its silence on Israeli nuclear weapons while blasting Iranian nuclear efforts.

There are huge expectations for Obama. Arabs and Muslims appreciate and respect American values of democracy and human rights, but the disreputable actions of U.S. soldiers, diplomats and civil servants have led many to question the U.S. commitment to its stated values. Typical references to the Judeo-Christian heritage need to be replaced by an approach appealing to universal values based on human rights, self-determination, and opposition to occupation and dictatorships. Obama needs to find a way to apologize for the past and to convince people that he is planning to change course. No one expects the U.S. president to totally change U.S. policy, but people will welcome efforts to turn a new page based on fairness and trust.

Obama could weaken the accusations of U.S. double standards and help dispel the false connection between Islam and terrorism — as well as demonstrating a reason to trust an American president — by establishing low-level negotiations with the elected members of the Palestinian legislature who ran on the reform-and-change bloc headed by Ismail Haniyeh. Talking to the political wing of Hamas is no different than talking to the leaders of Iran, which Obama promised to do while campaigning.

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May 22 2009

Second round in a long bout

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By Daoud Kuttab

The long-awaited Obama-Netanyahu meeting has finally taken place. If this were a boxing match, one would probably have to call the result of the latest round at the White House a tie.

A look at the post-summit transcripts shows that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stuck to his hardline position, refusing to pronounce the words two-state solution, attempting to shift emphasis on Iran and reiterating the latest Israeli demand of Palestinians, namely to accept Israel as a state for the Jewish people. (Ironically Jews themselves don’t agree on who is a Jew, and Israel would clearly never accept to recognise Palestine as a Muslim country).
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May 17 2009

Arabs in Palestine and Jordan predate Christianity and Islam

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May. 12, 2009

The visit of Pope Benedict XVI to Jordan and Palestine is a perfect opportunity to review and stress the role of Christian Arabs in the peace process and their strong support for peace with justice.

To begin with, it is important for all to know that Arabs have been in Palestine and Jordan before the arrival of Islam and Christianity. References to the word “Arab” and its derivatives are mentioned hundreds of times in the Old and New Testaments. The biblical figure of Job is said to be Arab; Arabs were among the many attending the sermon on the Day of Pentecost by St. Peter, and were among the 3,000 who then became Christians. Acts II refers to Arabs having heard the sermon in their own tongue.
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Jan 10 2009

Dennis Ross is not the Change we can believe in

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The following appeared in the Huffington Post

If the latest events and the negative role of US diplomacy has shown anything it is that we can’t have the same US policies in regards to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

The news leaks that former Clinton advisor Dennis Ross might be getting the nod to be involved in the new administration as an advisor to the Middle East is certainly not the change that President elect Barack Obama promised during his election campaign.

The prevailing impression in the region and especially among Arabs is that, Dennis Ross was nothing more than a postman for the Israelis. On more than one occasion Arab negotiators have complained that Ross in his job as an American envoy was given them a carbon copy of documents or proposals that the Israelis had sent to their Arab interlocutor. Continue Reading »

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Nov 29 2008

Obama Will Announce the Closure of Guantanmo on January 20th

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President-elect Barack Obama will announce in his inauguration speech the intention of his administration to close down the Guantanamo prison.

A source within the Obama transition team visiting Amman stated that the actual closure will take up to six months to complete because of the uncertainty of what to do with some of the more notorious prisoners held in the Cuban US base. The source who is involved in the national security team refused to be identified because he was not authorized to disclose the contents of Obama’s inaguration speech.

In addition to Guantanamo the Obama transition team is also studying ways to reverse the decisions of the Bush-Cheney administration regarding torture, and the US’s international commitments and obligations in the field of human rights and the world court.

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