Barracking Obama, Part I
Moderates in the Arab world are growing increasingly vocal with their criticism of the US president’s Middle East policy, reports Trends. Part I.
December 30, 2009 11:11 by Ben Lynfield
W hen Majid Hanoun faced eviction by Israeli authorities from his home in Arab East Jerusalem to make way for Jewish settlers, he looked to newly inaugurated American president Barack Obama for salvation.
“Yes you can stop housing evictions,” said a huge poster with Obama’s picture mounted by the family outside their one-storey home of 53 years. It was taken down in August when security forces evicted the Hanouns in line with an Israeli court ruling that the house was once and still is owned by a Jewish group.
That was another step in Israel’s takeover of the area earmarked to become capital of the future Palestinian state championed, at least rhetorically, by the president. Hanoun, an electrician with searching dark eyes and salt-and-pepper stubble, now sleeps in the street under a small olive tree to stay close to what he still considers his house.
“Maybe Obama can make a change in other places but we see that with Israel there is no change in American policy,” Hanoun says.
Hanoun’s conclusion is part of a broader disappointment in the Arab world with Obama’s performance on the salient Palestinian issue. This disappointment is, ironically, deepening at the same time the American president has been awarded the Nobel peace prize. If the Israeli government is relieved thus far that a palpable change in the American approach hasn¹t materialized, Arab moderates are increasingly worried.
The disappointment is reflected in subdued warnings from Palestinian officials that a continuation of Obama¹s policies could strengthen the militant Hamas movement in the West Bank, currently ruled by the moderate Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas. Hamas currently controls the Gaza Strip.