I'm in Cairo, about to walk across town to see my president address the Muslim world. I know there's a lot of cynicism and hopelessness about this speech. Not here. I think my president knows exactly what's going on.
Mr. Obama, end the double narratives of Israel and Palestine. One is a narrative of democracy, one is a narrative of dispossession. They originate here and they both have truth in them. Israelis have brought western institutions, but to Jews only, and Palestinians have been dispossessed and smashed again and again; and the west ignores their situation; and the narrative is all the Palestinians have, and it imprisons them.
Reader, over here I have discovered that I am something of a Tom Friedman or an As'ad AbuKhalil when it comes to the Arab states. Egypt is no democracy, and its glorious monuments are monuments to slavery and the oppressor (the pyramids). This place needs political reform, but the neocon error, which gave rise to this site, was the belief that it could be done by force and exalting Israel. It must be done by example; and of course the greatest example would be for the U.S. to begin to impose international legal standards on Israel's behavior.
A letter to Obama urging the enforcement of international law, written by the deputy foreign minister of Hamas, was carried out from Gaza yesterday by Code Pink co-founder Medea Benjamin, who had led an international delegation to the blasted territory. She is going to deliver it to the U.S. Embassy today. It invokes Obama's background as a legal scholar and calls on "enlightened" world opinion to bring international legal standards to "our ground zero," as Hamas calls Gaza.
I've been there. It is their ground zero.
It is amazing that a feminist antiwar group should become the intermediaries on such an important outreach– and in fact the letter contains an invitation to come to Gaza from Hamas. But such is the stranglehold of the Israel lobby on our politics; everyone else is feckless, and so a group of pink-swathed feminists who joke with the Hamas security about their scary beards have become players.
The people in this part of the world are far better informed about the Israel lobby than Americans. Another pity.
The way to end the two narratives is to demonstrate the true greatness of liberal institutions to the Arab world. To bring justice, based on international legal standards, to the Palestinians.
Barack, you know this as well as I do. Open your heart to the Muslim world. I know you are bought and paid for, as any American politician is; but offer them glints of your understanding. It will be transformative.
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- oldgeezer: Comprehension is not your strong suit Jon. Try reading it again.
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- Pixel: +1!