Obama, grow some balls and talk to Hamas

January 15, 2009

Hamas is the elected governing body of Palestine’s Gaza Strip. Worldwide ignorance of the Palestinian people is contributing to the rising death toll in the latest Israeli and Palestinian conflict. Americans should help civil rights reformers in the Middle East uphold civil rights standards, protect our investment in Israel, and repair President Bush’s fiasco in Palestine.

Hamas has been active since the late 1960s and has much support by the general Palestinian population. 90% of Hamas’ focus is public service. They provide community around mosques, clinics, and schools. However, Hamas has continued its refusal to recognize the state of Israel. Israel’s United Nation’s ambassador said that the goal of Israel’s military defensive is to completely destroy Hamas. Palestinians have been legally given the right to govern themselves in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Hamas hopes to obliterate Israel. This has led Israel to enforce economic sanctions on Hamas in 2006 thru 2007 and are currently pushing for an international embargo on the Gaza Strip. Essentially, Palestine and Israel are fighting for the same space.

Just as the entrepreneur president of Rwanda Paul Kagame has said that Rwanda should now be a crusher of genocide around the world, due to its 1994 background with genocide, the American government has a similar obligation in the ways of civil rights. America continues to have a tumultuous relationship with civil rights. Nonetheless, over the decades since the movement of the 1960s and 1970s America has set a precedent for civil rights in the world. Therefore, like Rwanda, it’s America’s duty to uphold those rights. American writer Stan Lee admonishes,”With great power comes great responsibility.” It would be horrible to do nothing when we have the sway to effect change simply by moderating communications. As we go into these next four years, America will be seeking to improve its garish image worldwide. Standing idly by as the Bush administration has done for eight years would be callus of us, and not a step in the right direction.

Unfortunately, the American government has contributed to much of the civil unrest in the Mideast by strengthening tyrants resources to oppress. While the CIA was supplying millions of dollars to the Afghanis in the 1980s to help defend against the Russians, that same regime was torturing, maiming, and deforming the limbs of many of its own people, while forming the Taliban. The same is true of trade with Saudi Arabia to obtain oil. Neither nations regularly and consistently acknowledge the civil rights of all its citizens. America has financially supported fundamental, extremist, supremacist groups for decades just to get oil under ideal conditions.

In order to improve the impression of Americans worldwide, we must separate ourselves from the Bush administration’s policies. Many christian Americas believe that biblically the land belongs to the Israelis. Many feel this is why President Bush, in his right-wing fundamentalist christian glory, has done so little maintenance in this region. Some, such as statesman Zbigniew Brzezinski, hold Bush responsible for this turmoil. On the MSNBC show Morning Joe Z. Brzezinski said, “What have we done to bring about peace between Israel and the Palestinians? And look at the last 8 years, we have relied on force, we have stopped being the mediators, we have become very partial, and we have essentially observed the situation as it deteriorates… The problem is that this conflict has lasted for years, and the United States have been largely passive. So the right question is not what do we do when things breaks down, the right question is what do we do to avoid a break down. By being engaged seriously in the peace process, and for the last 8 years we haven’t been and that is why we have the mess like we have right now on our hands.” Anchor Joe Scarborough said,”You can’t blame what is happening in Israel right now on the Bush administration.” To which Z. Brzezinski proclaims,”Yes you can!… In the last 8 years we had a policy in witch we have proclaimed an interest in peace. Condi Rice has traveled 16 times in 21 months to the region proclaiming ‘you must do this, you must do that’ but the United States never exerted itself. So the issue that Obama faces…is are we going to be sitting there issuing condemnations whether its at the Hamas or Israel or anybody else or are we going to be seriously engaged in the peace making process? That is the question.” Barack Obama must renounce Bush’s passive, do-nothing tactics and take effective action to restore diplomacy in Israel. Bill Clinton worked to pacify relations with Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat before the turn of the century. That work was all but negated as President Bush did nothing to keep any truce. A stark contrast to former presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter who hoped to leave as part of their legacy “Peace in the Middle East”.

In America, Obama would come under much scrutiny if he met with the Hamas without any preconditions. In all likelihood, his 80% public approval would plummet. Nonetheless, this is exactly what is needed. It’s this reason, among others, that President-Elect Obama has hesitation to meet with Hamas leaders to potentially work this situation out and cease the senseless killings. General Colin Powell, former president Jimmy Carter, and Rachel Maddow of MSNBC all feel the Hamas would be better dealt with than ignored and are seen as radical for it. Carter has been openly ridiculed for meeting with the Hamas. However, his reputation can withstand these attacks, Obama’s could not. This is why Americans need to support and expedite this meeting. If we don’t, the death toll will continue to rise, more families will be found dead, with the bodies of their babies swaddled in their arms, an attempt at protection all in vain.

There is worry over Barack Obama’s silence. Though he is not in position to act before his inauguration, how will he deal with the conflict in the Gaza Strip? Currently France has proposed a truce which is backed by Egypt, the United States, and other nations. During the campaign season Sarah Palin accused him of having the inclination to sit down and talk with Hamas without preconditions. How could the President of the United States ignore the input of the Palestinian people’s elected official? Especially, when the United States recommended the manner by which Hamas was elected. A democratic election voted on by the people. We are virtually at a standstill. Hamas won’t accept a truce unless it states an end to the Israeli embargo of Gaza. Israel says that will not happen, and is pushing for an international embargo. Under these circumstances, no preconditions can be formulated. Unfortunately, instead of being grateful to Carter for meeting with Hamas, Obama condemned his actions and attempts to distance himself from Carter who has been trying to help the Mideast since his presidency. Astutely, Carter wants to keep doors and communication open because he’s not afraid to be a diplomatic moderator.

Since December 27, 2008, nearly 700 Palestinians have been killed, nearly 100 Israelis, and thousands injured. Rachel Maddow questioned if conflict in this region can be avoided at all. Israel is our major ally in the Mideast. It is very unpopular for anyone to speak ill of Israel or sympathetic of its aggressors. In a chat room someone categorized enemies of Israel as “all the uncivilized countries”. Unfortunately, many don’t see any problem with this. Though it doesn’t compare to the vast censorship of some middle eastern countries such as Iran, United Arab Emigrants, and Saudi Arabia where citizens have been imprisoned for blogging, and others must access proxy internet servers to bypass stringent government filters, America has its own version of vast censorship. We have a biased media with its own level of elitist supremacy that often serves to give us a one-sided view of many world events. The general public need to examine both positions and not simply side with our political allies. If we were to truly do this, I believe the general consensus would not be that one state is righteous and one is evil, but we would recognize a need for diplomacy and open communication. This is why it’s not going to do any good, especially not for Israel if the president of the United States refuses to meet with the Hamas. It’s time for a change of mindset. Meeting with Hamas is the answer.

I pledge to struggle for civil rights in the Middle East by making more Americans aware, and supplying balanced information on personal blogs and podcasts. While researching, I found how complex it is to find objective information. This can make information very difficult to decipher. Americans must begin to change their mindset so we don’t see foreign peoples as a political agenda of allied states and non-allied states, as our government appears to do.

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