x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Obama, and the issue of Israel-Palestine

On November 10, Jordan's pro-government Al-Ra'y daily ran an opinion piece by Saleh al-Qallab saying that Barack Obama is expected to tackle the Middle East peace process, but at first is likely only to keep things ticking over.

On November 10, Jordan's pro-government Al-Ra'y daily ran an opinion piece by Saleh al-Qallab saying that Barack Obama is expected to tackle the Middle East peace process, but at first is likely only to keep things ticking over. "After a year - in the best case scenario - Obama will turn to the region, depending on the Arabs' ability to convince him that resolving the Palestinian issue should be a priority," he wrote.

But the Arabs should not think Obama's skin colour and Islamic roots will make him biased in favour of the Arabs and Palestinians. "One should not think for one moment that the 'change' slogan the new president raised to describe a new era in history? will affect Israel and take it out of the equation of American strategic interests." The Arabs must talk to the new administration in the language of interests to make it understand that its interests and those of Israel require it to exploit this historic opportunity to reach a just peace, al-Qallab wrote.

Khaled Saghieh, a regular columnist for Lebanon's independent pro-opposition newspaper Al-Akhbar, wrote on November 10 that in the run-up to next year's general elections, Christian Lebanese politicians are stirring up fears that the Palestinian refugees could be naturalised. The Phalange party is using these slogans to confront the Free Patriotic Movement, which employs the same logic, he wrote.

"Why does the Lebanese electoral battle necessitate that we focus on a foreign threat, most often embodied by the Palestinians?" Election season is usually a time for drawing up visions of the future. "But our bankrupt political parties have no visions of the future through which to compete, and thus they compete by refurbishing their pasts, which is in no way something to be proud of," Saghieh wrote. If oppression of the Palestinians and denying their rights is to be the battleground for the election, then Lebanese voters on all sides will be spoilt for choice. "All Lebanon supported the destruction of the Nahr Al-Barid camp and all Lebanon is conspiring against reconstructing it. The table is full, so voters, take your pick!"

Dr Aziza Al-Maneh, a regular columnist for Saudi Arabia's pro-government newspaper Okaz, wrote on November 10 that many who want to criticise someone advanced in years mock their age, especially when the target is a woman.

"I never see anything in life sillier than those who criticise a female politician or intellectual or activist in society by mocking her age and referring to her as an "old hag", or by mocking her lack of beauty or attacking the colour of her skin to remind everyone of her African roots," she wrote. But this is the norm in Saudi newspapers, who attack female politicians or activists they disagree with, such as the American Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, the Israeli politician Tzipi Livni, or feminist Nawal Al-Sa'daoui by pointing to their lack of beauty, their age or skin colour. "Women, even when performing serious work, are cast by our culture as messing around and wasting time because men have a hard time envisioning women as anything other than vehicles for reproduction or marriage."

"All signs point to an impending disaster if the wise don't hasten to act," Dr Hassan Abdullah Abbas, a regular columnist for Kuwait's independent newspaper Al-Rai al-Aam, wrote on November 10.

"How can we accept government reassurances that the economy is stable when the stock market is all but dead, when the second largest bank in the country is about to default on its debts and when inflation is rampant?" How does the government expect people to believe it is capable of staving off an "economic tsunami" when the prime minister keeps referring to investors as "adventurers", he asked. "Are we not right to distrust a government that is devoid of any humanitarian sympathy for a problem that is as old as Kuwait, called the non-naturalised, who are still languishing after all this time and despite the injustice of their circumstances?"

The interior minister granted those without papers citizenship, then revoked the decision a few days later under political pressure, Abbas wrote. "The ministry kept granting citizenship to those it saw fit, then we discovered that corruption had a hand in it. Who can we believe?" * Digest compiled by www.Mideastwire.com