by SamInDC, Thu Mar 01, 2007 at 09:55:21 AM EST
Tomorrow Sen. Obama will be making his first address on Israel. I hope he takes the opportunity to lead. While we all know there will be tough rhetoric on Iran, it doesn't have to be an implicit threat of nuclear war. Likewise, while we all know the statements, "Israel has a right to defend itself" will be uttered when discussing Hezbollah, Syria and Palestine, it doesn't have to be an implicit acquiescence that an Obama administration will look the other way if Israel bombs civilians. Most politicians have taken pandering on the Middle East to an art forum; even at the expense of American, Israeli and Palestinian lives. Rather than lead and really discuss the difficult issues that divide all sides in the conflict, they take the easy route and alienate Arab moderates, while branding an entire people as terrorists.
Outside of the political world, it is mainstream among most Americans that we want Israel to be safe and Jews to be able to move beyond the fear that history has created. It is also mainstream that American foreign policy should always put America first and that we should be leaders in the global community. While Bush is a failure on foreign policy, nothing has been shown by Congress in terms of leadership on the Middle East. To talk Palestine and the peace process makes one persona non grata on Capitol Hill. Pandering is all that occurs among our elected officials when it comes to Israel and its neighbors. Will Obama's "politics of hope" go beyond this?
Rather than bring Israelis and their neighbors together to find a comprehensive peace, our government has shown a willingness to only go so far as their political donors and action committees allow them. Will a President Obama go beyond this? Will he be willing and able to say to the Israelis to stop the settlements and sit down with the Palestinians? As his pro-Israel rhetoric heats up, will he, once elected, have the credibility in both the international community and, most importantly, the Middle East to be able to bring the needed compromise from Arab leaders? To tell Hamas to put down there weapons "a new politics of hope" has arrived? Will they trust him?
Sen. Obama is running as a post-partisan. Noble goal for domestic politics. My question to his campaign is whether he will run as a sincere peace maker, who is not only beyond the partisan tit-for-tat, but also beyond the pandering that clouds foreign policy judgments. I hope he will be. The Senator inspires a younger generation and encourages us to believe that America can be something more. On Friday, we will see what a President Obama view of the Middle East looks like. I hope I can be inspired once again.