Call him Barack Obama’s man in Gaza. Ibrahim Abu Jayyab, a bookish 23-year-old media studies student, gathers friends to try and rally support for the Democratic candidate by calling U.S. voters from a cybercafé in the Gaza strip.
Abu Jaayab told a reporter for the Ramattan News Network that he has called “tens or hundreds of random phone numbers” in the United States, pleading with people to vote for Obama, who he sees as “the man of the future.”
In an interview with the television network Al-Jazeera, Abu Jaayab explained:
It all started at the time of the US Primaries. After studying Obama’s campaign manifesto, I thought this is a man who is capable of change inside America. As for potential change in the Middle East, he can also do that. He can bring peace to the area. At least this is what he hopes.
For his work and dedication, Abu Jaayab has received death threats from Islamist fundamentalists – and was nominated for an Index on Censorship/Hugo Young Award for Journalism 2007. Undeterred, Abu Jaayab told Ramattan News Network that if Obama becomes President, he will help the Palestinians to achieve their dreams.
“We can not achieve our dreams because of the Israeli occupation, the world did not help us to end the Israeli occupation,” he said “we hope Obama will achieve what the world could not, to help us to live in peace and to achieve our dreams.”
Abu Jayyab believes that as Obama from an Islamic origin and from those who oppressed a long the history, he thinks that he will absorb the suffer of the Palestinians and will not hesitate to help them.
The work of Abu Jaayab and his friends at the cyber café – where the power supply can be precarious at best – is now quite uncommon for residents in Gaza, said Mkhaimer Abu Sada, a political analyst from Al-Azhar University. He told Al-Jazeera that while his students are following the US primaries, they remain intellectually detached.
[W]hether there is a Democratic President or Republican President in the White House, there is not going to be a big difference regarding the Palestinian issue.
The United State’s five-year military engagement in Iraq may be partly to blame, along with the country’s on-again, off-again war of words with Iran. (Democratic hopeful Hillary Clinton recently became engaged in that debate, discussed here in Voices without Votes.) As Al-Jazeera – and others – have pointed out, the Israeli-Palestinian issue wasn’t of much interest within the Bush administration until the past year or so.
As presidential candidates concentrate more about Iraq’s future and America's dependence on Middle Eastern oil, bloggers around the region and beyond have picked up Abu Jaayab’s unlikely story and used it as a tool to debate Obama’s foreign policy bona-fides.
When Obama said, “nobody's suffering more than the Palestinian people,” did he really mean as he later clarified, that nobody was suffering more from the failure of the Palestinian leadership? Or was he trying to start a “conversation” about whether the U.S. is too focused on Israeli suffering, and not enough on the suffering of the Palestinians?
When he was asked by Brian Williams in a debate last year to name the top three allies of the United States, why did he filibuster the question without naming Israel?
When he said in February, “I think there is a strain within the pro-Israel community that says unless you adopt an unwavering pro-Likud approach to Israel, then you're anti-Israel, and that can't be the measure of our friendship with Israel,” what did he mean by “pro-Likud”?
… It's a shame that Obama has apparently gotten through the Democratic primaries without his true stance on the issues being fleshed out. Hopefully, they will be fleshed out enough by the Presidential elections to send him reeling in ignominious defeat.
Formally of Iran, Amil Imani warns that Obama may be in physical danger if he follows through with his proposal to meet the leaders of Iran:
Obama boasted that he would embark on a personal diplomacy to solve our foreign policy problems with countries such as Syria and Iran. He said that he would meet their leaders without any preconditions to settle our disputes. Doesn’t that sound like change, a real change of great relief to us all? Never mind the fact that he has about zero experience in foreign policy matters, he is foolish enough to aim to negotiate with the ever-conniving Assad of Syria and masters of deceptions such as the Mullahs of Iran.
Okay Obama, don’t claim that no one warned you. If you get elected President and you receive an invitation from your fellow Muslim brother Ahmadinejad to make good on your promise and visit him in Tehran for a tête-à-tête, don’t you do it.
My advice, Obama: Elected President or not, don’t you hazard a trip to the Islamic Republic of Iran. In fact, don’t you go anywhere near where the crazed Islamists can get their hands on you. You don’t even rate a fatwa from one of the many bloodthirsty crafty Ayatollahs or Moftis asking for your head. Your fate is already sealed. You are on automatic, so to speak– a person who was given the gift of Islam and who ungratefully turned his back to the one and only faith of Allah, so the Muslims believe. The punishment for this kind of betrayal is prescribed as haad (most severe), meaning death.
Even Abu Jaayab has some doubts. Back to Ramattan News Network.
But, Abu Jayyab is so “disappointed and upset” because Obama did not mention the suffering and the security of the Palestinian people when he said that the security of Israel is “holy”.
“Why Senator Obama did not mention to the daily killing the Palestinian people lives in, why he did not talk about the siege on Gaza? What about security, is it not sacrosanct?” he said.
In TV discussion issues of anti-Semitism, with Hilary Clinton, Obama said Tuesday: “… I have been a stalwart friend of Israel and supported the special relationship we enjoy with it… they are among our most important allies and their security is sacrosanct.”