Too often Western leaders and journalists simply do not know the difference
between hamas and humus
OBAMA'S LEGACY OF HOPE AND CHANGE IN THE MID EAST
By Michael Widlanski 30 January 2011
President Barack Obama promised that his election meant not only "hope
and change" for America but for the world, especially the Middle East.
President Obama criticized America's past actions while touting his own
Islamic connections—from his Arabic-sounding middle name to his youth in
After two years in office, a look at the record shows Obama has kept
his promise about "change," but not necessarily about "hope."
• President Obama's first foreign trip was a journey to Turkey, where he
saluted the extremist Islamist regime, and less than a year later, that
regime has used the cover of "democracy" to impose its Islamist policies
locally. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdogan leads a viciously
anti-Semitic campaign against Israel, using a so-called "human rights
flotilla" that was really a terror operation in support of the Hamas terror
regime in Gaza.
• In a dramatic speech before thousands at Cairo University, Obama
attested that America was one of the largest Islamic countries, expecting
his statements would produce "moderation" in the Islamic sphere. Less than a
year later, Obama and his top advisors appear clueless and impotent, as
Islamic militants seem poised to seize power from the regime Egyptian
President Hosni Mubarrak (over issues ranging from corruption to high food
prices). Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton are urging "restraint"
(the favorite theme of the US State Department) the same way Jimmy Carter
urged restraint on the Shah of Iran in the face of Ayatollah Khomeini. We
know how that ended. The Obama-Clinton public statements actually seem to
be a disavowal of Murbarak who is far from perfect exemplar of democracy.
Still, Mubarak, for all his faults, is a better friend to the US than
Muhammad Baradei, the UN-foisted opportunist who helped cover up
proliferation of WMD by despots on his way to winning a Nobel peace prize.
• Obama, Clinton and Vice President Joe Biden pushed a militant
anti-Israel negotiating stance, including demands for no Israeli
construction in Jerusalem, and surprisingly (for Obama et al), the
Palestinian Authority stiffened its own demands and refused to talk to
Israel directly—thus reversing 20 years of direct talks.
• Obama "engaged" the Iranian revolutionary regime, and the Iranians
responded by speeding up their construction of nuclear weapons, while
simultaneously brutally repressing real democratic protests over a
pathetically rigged election.
• President Obama violated all tradition to send an ambassador to Syria,
using a congressional recess to sneak through the appointment that would
never have passed. And this has helped produce change. Under George W. Bush,
Syria and its Iranian-funded Hizballah terror militia ally were forced to
pull back from Lebanon. Under the engaging and smiling policies of President
Barack Obama, Lebanon is falling once again into the hands of Hizballah,
Syria and Iran. What will Obama do: recall America's ambassador from Syria
or re-engage the killer regime in Iran?
"Islam has always been a part of America's story," Obama declared in his
Cairo speech, but less than two years later, it seems that it will be
radical Islam that will remain a central part of Obama's personal story and
his administration's legacy.
Obama and Clinton are missing the real story in Egypt, which has some
similarity to the story of Iran in 1978 and 1979: a pro-American
authoritarian regime has invited protest because of personal and economic
weakness combined with charges of corruption. The ailing octogenarian
Mubarak (who has been in and out of hospitals) resembles the ailing Shah.
Neither man would have been my choice as a contestant for American Idol, but
the question was and is—who is the alternative? The ayatollahs of Iran have
certainly been worse than the Shah in every respect, and they established
the worst terror-supporting government in the world (even more than North
Korea). Of course, the ayatollahs were not the only ones protesting the
Shah, but they knew how to exploit the general unrest—and calls for
democracy—in order to come to power. Once in power, they epitomized
Professor Bernard Lewis's adroit description of the Islamist desire for
democracy: "one man, one vote, one time only."
In Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood and its kindred groups al-gema'at
al-Islamiyya and Takfir Wa-Higra as well as Egyptian Islamic Jihad are
the kinds of organizations that spawned the groups that attacked the World
Trade Center in 1993 and September 11, 2001. We should remember that every
time Obama and Hillary Clinton rushed to scold Mubarak for trying to hold on
to power, while they were strangely silent when the ayatollahs used far more
abusive power against a non-Islamic democratic protest.
Obama-Clinton have also been very reticent about some of the mob behavior
in Egypt, such as the looting of museums and stores. Why not urge a little
restraint on the mobs, too?
Both the Sunni Islamists of Egypt and the Shiite Islamists of Iran pray
on the gullibility of Western diplomats and pundits who usually cannot
connect the dots in Arabic or any other Semitic language. In Semitic
languages, the dots serve as vowels, and when you cannot read the dots, you
cannot connect them or read the situation.
That is why Barack, Hillary and Jimmy see H-M-S and they read humus, and
they take a big bite. Afterwards, when they discover they have hamas in
their mouths: and they have bitten off more than they can chew.
Too often Western leaders and journalists simply do not know the
difference between hamas and humus.
Like Muhammad Baradei and Jimmy Carter, Barack Obama has won a Nobel Peace
Prize, but we should be asking ourselves how much is this award-winning
performance going to cost us.
Dr. Michael Widlanski, who has studied and worked in several Arab countries,
teaches Arab politics and communication at the Hebrew University in
Jerusalem. He is a former reporter, correspondent and editor, respectively,
at The New York Times, The Cox Newspapers-Atlanta Constitution, and The
Jerusalem Post, serving as a special advisor to Israeli delegations to peace
talks in 1991-1992 and as Strategic Affairs Advisor to the Ministry of
Public Security, editing secret PLO Archives captured in Jerusalem. He is
currently completing a book on Arab-Islamic terror.