Obama: Is the Arab American Vote in his Hands?

A small portrait of the translator

October 10, 2008 @ 18:11 EDT

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Countries:
Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Palestine
Candidates:
Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, John McCain, Joe Biden, Sarah Palin
Issues:
International Relations, War & Conflict, Religion
 

Obamamania has gripped the Arab World from the day Barack Obama launched his campaign. How is he faring with Arab bloggers less than a month away from the elections? And most importantly, what so Arab Americans, who can vote, have to say about the Democratic candidate?

Iraq Neurotic Iraqi Wife can't wait for Obama to be elected as the next president of the United States. She explains:

I wish with all my heart Obama wins and all the troops leave very soon. VERY SOON. I cant wait to see that day. Maybe then and only then the govt's sanity will return. That is if they had sanity to begin with.

On the opposite side of the fence, Iraqi Pundit has the following question:

Since the gains in Iraq are fragile, would it be good to elect Barack Obama who just wants to get out and leave Iraqi civilians to the mercy of the murderers? He clearly neither cares nor understands the ramifications.

Meanwhile, The Highlander, from Libya, says all the presidential nominees are “clones” of each another:

some of my American friends will not be voting because they do not like the choice of candidates available. And although I think it should no longer matter to us in the Middle East who is president -because the policy has never changed at its core- I kept encouraging my friends to vote for the person who will do most good to their economy and internal affairs. However, when someone asked ” hey Highlander what do you think of Obama ? I'm sure you are glad there is a black candidate right?” No, I don't care what colour the president is but would it be surprising to say all US presidential nominees and their running mates seem like clones to me.

Who would she like to see as President?

The day I see a US candidate not trembling before Israel is the day I know that America is in good hands again because I am not convinced that one needs to stand by Israel to be patriotic [to the US].

And Al Falasteenyia (The Palestinian) simply fumes:

I am sick and tired of hearing about arabs and muslims voting for Obama. Don't get me started on those voting for McCain.

But Palestinian Ray Hanania is voicing disappointment. Writing on Mideast Youth, he says:

Arab American voters face the same challenges they always face in elections: candidates who climb all over themselves to show how pro-Israel they are. There’s nothing wrong with being pro-Israel, but oftentimes the candidates embrace the most extremist views supporting Israel that reject principle and fairness needed to resolve the Middle East conflict peacefully.

He adds that it all comes down to one question:

Who do you want to be disappointed by, someone you know is going to disappoint you, or someone you hope deeply won’t disappoint you?

He further explains:

This election, it is Barack Obama and John McCain, and their running mates, pro-Israel activists Sarah Palin and Joe Biden.

Arab American voters (who are Muslim and Christian) are not asking Americans to be pro-Arab. They are just asking that Americans stop being stupid, use their brains, pretend they really believe that stuff about being the leader of the free world, and be fair. For many pro-Israel activists, that’s too much to permit. Better to keep the Americans dazed and confused — although there are many supporters of Israel who do support peace and fairness. Just just are not talking these days.

This year's elections, says Hanania, offers no true choice for Arab Americans:

No real choices at all, when it comes to someone who just might do the right thing when it comes to the Middle East. So, what do we do? Well, it’s called the lessor or two (or more) evils.

Biden has set a new record, a Christian declaring himself as “Zionist.” Usually, American politicians pandering to prejudice and hatred don’t have to go so far to attract votes and money from the powerful pro-Israel lobby, Biden doesn’t have to do this, but maybe being anti-Arab is something he aspires too.

All he has to do is do what McCain and Obama have already done. Appear before AIPAC. Tell the pro-Israel crowd what it wants to hear, and hope that’s enough to pull the wool over Jewish voters, too.

For Hanania, Obama will not change and US policies will remain intact. What concerns the blogger now is the sense of disappointment supporters will feel when they get stabbed in the back “by a friend:”

Obama won’t change. If Palestine and the Middle East were really important, he would have given signals to that affect already. But he won’t. McCain and Palin could actually bring more change.

And, for those who see things in Republican and Democratic colors, the other reality is this. Even if McCain wins, both houses of the congress will be controlled by Democrats. So, what’s the difference if Obama wins or loses.

I always think disappointment is better when it is not so disappointing and the person who lets you down is not someone you expect to help you, like McCain. The worst scenario is to support someone who you think mightr understand you, but despite that understanding still easily changes his views in order to pander for votes and money, like Obama.

Obama will let the Arab American community down not because he wants to but because that is the inherent nature of an American political system where the Arab activism is at an extremist and dysfunctional minimal. If Obama lets us down, as he is certain to do, that would be far more traumatic for Arab Americans. Because the worst kind of disappointment come from friends, not enemies.

Asoom, an Arab American of Jordanian descent, echoes similar fears. Her admiration for the Illinois senator has shifted since he became a presidential candidate. She explains:

I loved Obama back when he was a senator. I thought he was genuinely interested in justice and change. I remember him recalling the struggles of Arab-Americans in Chicago as a result of the post-Patriot Act era during the Democratic National Convention in the 2004 elections; however, I haven't warmed up to Obama now that he's a presidential candidate…he's just different.

How different? The blogger continues:

I caught an interview on CNN with the head of MPAC (muslim public affairs council) on Obama's new perceived attitude towards Muslims that pretty much summarized how I feel. He started off by saying the candidate that has broken the race barrier has also been strengthening the religion barrier. How? When Obama was presented with rumors of being a Muslim, or a Muslim sympathizer, he had an opportunity to clarify his background and faith-which he did. However, he also had a great opportunity to say hey there's nothing wrong with being a Muslim. He definitely didn't do that and instead rushed to wash his hands publicly of any hint of Muslim affiliation.

Such an attitude, concludes Asoom, opens the door wide for McCain should be decide to reach out to American Muslims:

His [Obama's] handling of the whole Muslim rumor issue gives credibility to the Islamophobes and it was this reason that a lot of my family members decided to support Hillary C instead of Obama. What's a bit frightening about this to a Muslim Arab American like me is that his switching attitude could be providing an opportunity for McCain to reach out to the Muslims who would receive any acknowledging candidate with open arms.

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  • 3 comments

    1. Walb608 Says:

      To my Muslim friends in the U.S. and abroad: I find the postings indicating that many believe that there is no difference between the presidential candidates to be disheartening – but you should not be disheartened. Sen. Obama is a man of true intelligence with an honest desire to not only hear others points of view but with the ability to comprehend and actually consider them. We do not see as much of this on the campaign trail as we might like, but in these strange times in the US, demonstrating open-mindedness will not get one elected. With Obama in the White-house, US domestic and foreign policy will change dramatically for the better – which will be a blessing to the whole world. A person that actually honors human life and has compassion for the suffering of innocent people (both here and abroad) will lead the US for the first time in almost a decade, if not longer. The whole world will benefit from this dramatic change. Another four years of any Republican Administration will simply mean more pain for all of the inhabitants of our planet.

    2. Omar Says:

      I am an American and I am also a Muslim and an Arab. On November fourth of this year, I will be voting for the first time, and my vote will be for Senator Barack Obama.
      True, I am disheartened by how xenophobic some Americans are, and how easily they can throw an entire race or ethnicity under the bus of stereotype, but I truly believe (hope) that the good Senator will bring a much needed change to the status quo. No, we arab-americans will not be looked at as equal any time soon, certainly not in my lifetime (and I’m young!!), but at least it will be a step in the right direction.

    3. me Says:

      Questioning the American Bolshevik views
      1. Is wealth redistribution taking money from stockholders and redistributing it to those who don’t pay taxes?
      2. Is it more important to make sure that illegal votes are not disenfranchised or making sure that groups like ACORN do not nullify honest votes.
      3. Would premature U.S. withdrawal from Iraq grand jihadists a victory and make all of our accomplishments, money spent and lives lost a big waist?
      4. Can this country afford to grant socialist Democrats total control of the government and allow them to sacrifice our safety by cutting the military budget by 25%?
      Now comes the big question. How do we stop socialism from ruining our lives?
      The answer is simple. Don’t vote American Bolsheviks into power and boycott the socialist propaganda media into bankruptcy.
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vjvBEKrGkDI

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