HARVARD SQUARE COMMENTARY

December 1, 2008
Fits the Image
Published in Al-Ahram Weekly Online
(Link)

James Adler


Sir -- Congratulations on your fine coverage of the historic American elections.

Concerning the letter on some of Barack Obama's social views like gay rights ('Lost lives' Al-Ahram 13-19 November) these are views which he would broadly share with most Western progressive leaders and writers on the Middle East. They would include American presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter, British prime ministers Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, German chancellors Gerhard Schroeder and Angela Merkel, French presidents François Mitterrand and Jacques Chirac, liberal and pro-Arab writers and scholars such as Jonathan Cook, Noam Chomsky, David Hirst, Alexander Cockburn, and Robert Fisk, and Israeli progressives like Jeff Halper, Ilan Pappe, Uri Avnery and Avi Schlaim. It is on the contrary, the rightist American Christian Zionists and Israeli settlement expansionists whose social views fit more with the letter's writer, like Benyamin Netanyahu and Avigdor Lieberman.

Furthermore, no letter has appeared in Al-Ahram criticising any of the Western leaders noted above, who are white and of First World origin, for having the same social views that Obama does. Instead such a critical letter would appear in Al-Ahram only when it is an attack on the first black man and the first man of Third World origins to be elected president. This exemplifies double standards, anti-Third World prejudice and underlying racism that are shattering. The hatred against Obama among rightist elements in Israel and the West is unremitting and unrelentless. The right-wing agitprop in papers and talkbacks and blogs is intense, such as on The Jerusalem Post site, where what is written and said is much the same agitprop.

The Middle East's problems did not come about in a day. We need to help President-elect Obama in order for him to be able to offer American help with regional social and political problems. We can help with our goodwill, trust and patience, and our forgiveness for some of the errors, misjudgments, and frustrating zigzags that he undoubtedly will end up making. The greatest gift we can give him, and what he will need most of all in order to be able to achieve anything, is an ample allotment of that most precious of all commodities called time.


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