I came across an article by CNN's Jack Cafferty regarding Obama's trip to the Middle East and the President's revamped strategy for the region, ie reaching out to the Muslim world, and I found much of the trip, and the reaction to Cafferty's comments, to be pretty disturbing. Obama's trip to the Middle East was significant because he clearly attempted to demonstrate to the Muslim world that he intends to change the dynamic between the US and Arab nations -- by quoting the Quran and by snubbing Israel during this trip -- and the comments that followed the article are equally if not more disturbing than the actual events on which the comments are focused.
But what concerns me even more is the fact -- or my assumption -- that Muslim nations have always spoken out of both sides of their mouth, depending on what suits them best at each particular juncture. Israel, in contrast, has typically been straightforward. Arab nations have always publicly proclaimed their love for peace but ignored and nurtured extremists who have received protection and -- in many cases -- funding and support from the very nations who publicly claim to decry their violent actions. The only real exception to this, of course, is Egypt; Anwar Sadat's assassination, unfortunately, was its legacy.
In either case, many of the comments in the linked article seem to denounce Israel as a selfish, bully of a nation that has been unwilling to accede to US interests and repeatedly behaved in contradiction to US interests in the Mid-East. Of course, none of these comments -- or the biases of the people making them with increasing honesty -- account for the fact that supporting nations who accept or use terror and extremism is a mistake. Nor do they have any basis in fact. Whether it's Saudi Arabia, Iran, Lebanon, Syria or Libya, it's clear that Obama -- and the individuals behind these comments -- would rather sacrifice or at least temper our relationship with Israel than lessen our commitment to the Muslim world by withdrawing our need for their only international contribution -- oil. Assuming we are able to significantly reduce our dependence on oil in the Middle East, our support for the only democracy to ever survive -- and thrive -- in that region will continue to be our only true and honest ally in the region. What will happen when the duality -- the two-faced nature of many of Israel's neighbors -- is demonstrated post Obama's new treatment of these nations? Will we continue to reach out to the Muslim world, or will we in turn see their behavior as the rule rather than the exception? And will the people who decry Israel's existence and/or "selfish" behavior ever figure out that Israel -- the so-called "bully" is a state the size of Rhode Island surrounded by neighbors in totality are ten times the state of Texas who -- combined -- would just as soon see it wiped off the map as a legitimate reason to maintain its self-preservation? Or will they continue to support and hope for peace among nations that sponsor and breed hate and extremism?
I think the answers to both of these questions are evident. Unfortunately or otherwise, the more things change, the more they stay the same. I'm thankful on the one hand that the comments were as honest and frank as they were; but I'm equally disappointed that the authors of those comments have very little understanding of the situation, and, for the first time in sixty years, they seem to have an ally in the White House. And that, frankly, while not a surprise, is very disturbing indeed.