News / Middle East

Arab Americans Found Hope, Disappointment in 2010

US role in Middle East peace seen as cornerstone of Arab-American relations

US Mideast envoy George Mitchell leaves following his meeting about Mideast peace talks with Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit in Cairo, 3 Oct. 2010
US Mideast envoy George Mitchell leaves following his meeting about Mideast peace talks with Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit in Cairo, 3 Oct. 2010

Multimedia

Mohamed Elshinnawi

A group of Arab Americans meeting at the Al Hewar Center in suburban Washington consider the U.S. role in Middle East peace the cornerstone of Arab-American relations.

For them President Barack Obama began his first year in office in 2009 with a clear commitment to ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and support for a Palestinian state.

"The cause of peace in the Middle East is important to us and to our national interest," Obama said. "It is important to me personally."

Israeli-Palestinian Talks

But despite the restart of U.S.-mediated peace talks between the Israelis and Palestinians, those talks have stalled over Israel's refusal to agree to a new freeze on Jewish settlement construction in the West Bank.

And for that, members of the group say Obama is partly to blame.

"He promised that Israel has to stop its settlements, and Israel stands in defiance of the American administration," says Omar Khalida, a businessman.

College student Ahmed Aisawah adds, "As an Arab, I do not perceive a Middle East peace process as long as the U.S. continues its total support for Israel."

Iraq

However, when it comes to Iraq, President Obama's strategy won praise from some of the group's members.

"The Iraqi people before the change did not have any hope," says Diaa Saadawi, a book store manager. "Now at least they have hope."

But some were concerned about Iraq's future, even though Obama has ended the U.S. combat mission there. People such as restaurant owner Mohamed Abu Abed.

"I do not think that there will be a new Iraq for a long time because it is completely destroyed," he said.

Egypt

The fate of Egyptian democracy is another topic of concern at Al Hewar Center.

The Obama administration criticized the lack of transparency in parliamentary elections this past November, but student Ahmed al-Sawah still questions the U.S. commitment to democracy across the Middle East.

"Who is currently in power is passing it onto his son," says al-Sawah. "And if that suits U.S. strategic interests, Washington would not mind power inheritance in the Arab world."

Al-Sawah referrs to widespread speculation that President Hosni Mubarak is preparing his son Gamal to succeed him.

Stephen Seche, the former U.S. Ambassador to Yemen, concedes that U.S. strategic interests can play a role in America's policies toward the Middle East. But he says the will of the people should not be ignored.

"We have to be able to make it clear that our commitment will extend to the daily issues that trouble the people of the region and make a very strong and concerted effort to find a resolution to those problems as well," says Seche.

Anti-Muslim sentiment

A Florida Christian minister's orginal plan to burn hundreds of copies of the Quran and other protests against a proposed Islamic cultural center in New York near where Islamist terrorists attacked in 2001, also concerned the participants in the discussion with Seche.

"That controversy that erupted made some Muslims in the Arab world feel that America is anti-Muslim or anti-Islam," says Khaled Saffouri, an Arab-American activist.

But despite their concerns about anti-Muslim rhetoric in the United States, and U.S. policies toward the Middle East, many Arab Americans at the discussion say they hope the coming year will bring better U.S. relations with Arabs and Muslims around the world.

You May Like

UN Fears Rights Violations in China-backed Projects

UNHCHR investigates link between financing development and ignoring safeguards for human rights More

Boko Haram Violence Tests Nigerians’ Faith in Buhari

New president has promised to stem insurgency; he’s scheduled to meet with President Obama at White House July 20 More

Social Media Network Wants Privacy in User’s Hands

Encryption's popularity in messaging is exploding; now it's the foundation of a new social network More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugeesi
X
Carolyn Weaver
July 06, 2015 6:47 PM
In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugees

In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Rice Farmers Frustrated As Drought Grips Thailand

A severe drought in Thailand is limiting the growing season of the country’s important rice crop. Farmers are blaming the government for not doing more to protect a key export. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Video

Video 'From This Day Forward' Reveals Difficult Journey of Transgender Parent

In her documentary, "From This Day Forward", filmmaker Sharon Shattuck reveals the personal journey of her transgender father, as he told his family that he always felt he was a woman inside and decided to live as one. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Floodwaters Threaten Iconic American Home

The Farnsworth House in the Midwest State of Illinois is one of the most iconic homes in America. Thousands of tourists visit the site every year. Its location near a river inspired the design of the house, but, as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, that very location is now threatening the existence of this National Historic Landmark.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.

VOA Blogs