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Saturday, June 6, 2009

President Obama in Egypt: Bold and truthful message to the World

President Obama is truly remarkable. He spoke sincerely and directly to the Jews, Arabs and the West, particularly to the right wing ideologues in the USA.
My sense is that all of these groups sincerely want to win the lottery. And with bended knees and expectant hearts they are praying daily that they may win the lottery. But one thing they have all neglected to do is to partake of the pre-requisite ritual of purchasing a ticket. The Arabs, the Jews both want to live in peace. The Jews claim, rightly, that they do not want rockets fired into their bedrooms at night. The Palestinian situation is intolerable. America's national security is vital.

Israel in perpetuity as an enclave in the Arab heartland is not feasible. They will arm to the teeth and have America back them to the hilt but this is not a viable option. And Hamas for all its militancy will not birth the Palestinian state, free and living side by side with Israel. And America's interests are just as far reaching as the terror networks. America cannot defeat or protect itself from acts of extremism.

This is what Obama so eloquently laid out. Obama told the truth as best as he could. But the right wing ideologues in the US and the skeptics and extremists in the Arab world are not convinced that this consensus and trust building approach will work. They do not believe that a pathway that seeks to illuminate the common aspirations for peace is even desirable.

Obama's critics at home say there was too much carrot and not enough stick. The Arabs say he must win their hearts and minds and that they will wait and judge Obama not by his words and but his actions. The Israelis say their security is not negotiable. These attitudes are ignorant and as Obama would put it "on the wrong side of history".

Solving problems in the 21st century will demand collaboration, tolerance and an ability to listen rather than projecting one's own self interest at all times. There is no such thing as an invincible Jew or entitled Arab or a righteous American. We are one people, eternally flawed and irredeemably interdependent. It is time to set aside childish ways borne of centuries old arrogance and hatefulness. It is time to build a global family; diverse but respectful.

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