Al-Ahram Weekly Online   10 - 16 June 2010
Issue No. 1002
Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875

Wake-up call

The Obama administration has sorely let down the people in the Arab and Muslim worlds and freedom loving people everywhere. The most glaring example is the disgraceful and coward indecisiveness it showed over Israel's act of terrorism in the Mediterranean.

The hero of the moment is the gallant Turkish leadership which stood up to the Goliath and took a principled position at considerable risk to its long-term relations with Washington and Tel Aviv. By demanding a forceful UN resolution condemning the act of piracy and state terrorism of the Israelis, it has become by default the leading light of those who seek peace and justice around the world. It should be commended.

The Organisation of Islamic Conference took its cue from Turkey, calling on all Muslim nations to reassess their relations with Israel in light of its atrocious actions. The Egyptian government for one has decided to end the siege of Gaza by opening indefinitely the Rafah border crossing, which is now the only available gateway to the world for Gazans. By taking this principled stand despite US and Israeli disapproval, the Egyptian government must also be commended.

The US veto of Turkey's call for an international investigation of the events surrounding the murders and hijacking of the Freedom Flotilla is shameful and reveals Washington's inability to discipline its wayward Frankenstein, despite the fact that one of those who died was an American citizen.

A sad irony is that a flotilla member that arrived late and was also seized by the Israelis but without any deaths is named after the American martyr Rachel Corrie, who was brutally run over by an American-made bulldozer clearing Palestinian land to accommodate illegal Israeli settlers. Her parents are to this day seeking retribution with no US government support, alas to no avail.

But this is not the only failure that Obama has chalked up in his year and a half in office. His surge in Afghanistan is an even more damning outrage, the war now in its 104th month, the longest war in US history, with deaths increasing at a horrifying rate, destroying the fabric of a once proud nation.

Where are the promises that Obama made in Cairo last year? Is he really this powerless or is he duplicitous? Whatever the answer, the Arab and Muslims worlds need to acknowledge that we are ultimately responsible for finding answers to the crises that are piling up around us.

The divisions between secular nationalists and religious, as exemplified among the Palestinians by Fatah and Hamas, must be overcome. We can take our cue from the Turks, who have combined a national pride and a firm faith in a popular way forward for the nation as a whole. The "American Way" has lost its sheen for us, with its chauvinistic navel gazing and the rule of Wall Street. The way ahead is clear for those with a moral compass and a brave heart.

A new balance of forces is arising in the East, with Israel facing greater and greater isolation as it pursues its racist expansionist schemes and warmongering. Principled unity in the Arab and Muslim world will bring the Zionists to their senses and to the negotiating table. It is now up to Obama to push its offspring towards accommodation.

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