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Arabs And Uncle Sam – OpEd

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They in the West have a thing for opinion polls. In the latest of its opinion polls, the US-based Pew Research Center reports that views about the US in the Arab world remain as negative as ever despite the arrival of President Barack Obama and all the impossible dreams and sweet promises he offered before and after his election. Interestingly, the Pew researchers note with dismay, even after the recent apocalyptic events in the Middle East, there has been no remarkable change in people’s perceptions about Uncle Sam.

As many as 79 percent of Egyptians have an unfavorable view of the US compared to 82 percent last year. More or less the same views had been recorded all across the Arab world in 2009 and 2010. Which means you are likely to come across roughly the similar views in most Arab and Muslim countries today.

So what explains this state of affairs even when the White House has a black president who has repeatedly sought a “new way forward” with the world’s Muslims? There’s a simple and one-word answer to this question: Israel.

We know we have been here before ad nauseam and hate to revisit this long worn-out issue all over again. But there’s no escaping the reality of the unquestioning and self-destructive US attitude toward Israel, if one is to understand and address the issue at the heart of this debate.

It’s America’s blind support to the Zionist regime ignoring its continuing crimes against humanity and violations of all international conventions on human rights and numerous UN resolutions that endlessly feeds and fuels the Arab anger against the US. This sentiment had been tempered by heavy doses of optimism following Obama’s grand entry and his oratory during his visits to Turkey and Egypt. Unfortunately, though, for all his soaring rhetoric and the emotional connection he seemed to make with the Arab and Muslim world, little has changed under this president.

After his apparently sincere start on the Mideast peace process and talk of the urgency of the need for an independent Palestinian state, the US leader appears to have totally given up and surrendered in the face of Israeli intransigence. While it’s true that the Israeli policies never change no matter who’s in charge, the current lot of “leaders” are forever vying with each other in obstinacy and persecution of Palestinians.

Of course, nothing new here. Only Arabs had expected a change in Washington under a leader who appeared to see the world from a more balanced perspective. Alas, that was not to be!

Clearly, the tentacles of the Israeli lobby are so deep into the US establishment that no US leader could afford to confront the Zionist regime. And when the White House incumbent has already started preparing for the 2012 re-election battle, it’s perhaps futile to expect a breakthrough this year or the next.

But if this long festering conflict ever stood a chance of resolution, it is now. The recent changes in the region have created a historic opportunity for peace that the US and international community mustn’t squander. Israel would do itself a huge favor by engaging the current Palestinian leadership. Who knows who it will face in months and years to come? With Hamas and Fatah coming together and a more reasonable leadership in Egypt asserting itself, things have already turned against Israel. Who knows what the future would bring? Embrace peace now or regret forever.

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Arab News

Arab News is Saudi Arabia's first English-language newspaper. It was founded in 1975 by Hisham and Mohammed Ali Hafiz. Today, it is one of 29 publications produced by Saudi Research & Publishing Company (SRPC), a subsidiary of Saudi Research & Marketing Group (SRMG).

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