Wednesday, January 7, 2009


I've been resisting commenting on the fighting in Gaza, because there doesn't seem to be much new to say. It seems intractable. But I do have some hope for change when Obama comes into office. And today Thomas Friedman provides his perspective. I like reading Friedman columns on the Mideast because he's an American Jew who has a great deal of respect for Arab and Muslim culture. He provides the larger picture, explaining, for example, the role of Iran, and the struggle between Islamists and modernists.

One of the best columns that I ever read was a David Brooks column from several years ago about the role of respect in politics (I'm not even going to try and find it). Beyond the issues of territory, escalating violence, and demands for reciprocity, respect strikes me as a core issue in the Mideast. George Bush had little, if any, respect for Arabs and Muslims, and certainly had none for the Palestinians. If Obama can demonstrate that he respects Arab culture and Islam as a religion, as well as the Palestinians and their demands for a secure state, then I think he might be able to accomplish a great deal.

It may not be much. It may be a slim hope. But right now, it's all I can think of.

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