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I'm Not Barack Obama,
But I will Endorse Him

By Sameh A. Habeeb

19 July, 2008

We, Palestinians, are aspiring to any glimpse of hope to establishing our promising country of Palestine. Originally, that glimpse of hope grew when Israelis realized in the nineties that a real peace will not be achieved apart from an Independent Palestinian state. That time, the world agreed on that concept and peace deal (Oslo) was held in Washington D.C, after the first Bush had left office.

Regardless of Oslo and its disadvantages we started the self governing in the West Bank and Gaza Strip awaiting the transitional period in the next stages. But as many expected things went deep down after Israel approved that, it was unconcerned in any peace agreement that relied on giving us land in exchange for peace

With the second Bush administration and his first speech at the White House, our aspirations smashed into a barrier of Zioamerican arrogance! The hope raised back momentously and excessively when the caucuses of American elections started in 2007. Followed by the appearance of Barack Husain Obama, our hope reached a peak once more. We reckoned that by this heroic Black-American we would be able to get our Independent State of Palestine

This positive thought was strengthened for several reasons. Initially, having a black president in the White House means having the history of the Black generation who suffered the tortures of white enslavement and the discrimination as well. Surely, he knows our suffering, thus he will make sure to end our conflict. Accordingly, this president will work hard to liberate us from the occupation that we have been experiencing since 60 years.

From left to right, Michelle Obama, then Illinois state senator Barack Obama, Columbia University Professor Edward Said and Mariam Said at a May 1998 Arab community event in Chicago at which Edward Said gave the keynote speech. (Image from archives of Ali Abunimah)

Then, Barack Obama's support for the Palestinian cause has had lenghty experiences and positive stances. Going back to the nineties, he participated in many activities in solidarity of Palestine.

Ali Abunimah, ex-friend of Obama pointed out, "I knew Barack Obama for many years as my state senator-when he used to attend events in the Palestinian community in Chicago all the time. I remember personally introducing him onstage in 1999, when we had a major community fundraiser for the community center in Deheisha refugee camp in the occupied West Bank. And that's just one example of how Barack Obama used to be very comfortable speaking up for and being associated with Palestinian rights and opposing the Israeli occupation."

Our desired change is completely inconsistent with Obama's one currently. The change for us makes us ask why he is turning his back against Palestinians in this race. He was a sincere friend to us once.

"The last time I spoke to Obama was in the winter of 2004—As he came in from the cold and took off his coat, I went up to greet him. He responded warmly, and volunteered, "Hey, I'm sorry I haven't said more about Palestine right now, but we are in a tough primary race. I'm hoping when things calm down I can be more up front," Obama's friend said.

So, his changing view towards Palestine seems to be unreal since he is looking to power. I, if I would be in his shoes, I would be doing as the same as he is doing.

During a speech I delivered in Lecce in Italy, I was named as Barack Obama due to the way I spoke using some of the rhetorical and public speaking tips. I was asked then, What do you think of Obama?

I was puzzled for a second, then I answered, " Obama is holding opposing views to Bush in all policies which is so requested to improve the American image in the world. Yet, when it comes to Palestine he is as supportive to Israel as Bush and even more."

This perspective was so clear during his first speeches after he won the Nomination of his party. At the AIPAC, Obama was reciting some of the Bush ideas and schemes towards the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. He wants to give a livable and a connected state but he didn't specify more about this state!

Finally, we Palestinians and Arab Americans have to look over this race to the White House wisely. We have two choices now. Barack Obama who is slightly supporting the Palestinians and their promising state. In the other side, we have one of the biggest new Bushes, John McCain, whose stances are more extreme than Bush and all the new conservatives in the US. One of McCain' s advisors said a couple of weeks ago that Palestinians should go to Jordan and establish their own country. Thus, McCain is so dangerous for us and his ideas are so malicious. So, let's pick the less worse of the two…Let's endorse Obama.

Sameh A. Habeeb
Freelance Journalist based in Gaza, Palestine
Mob: 00972599306096


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