Obama: The View From the Middle East

It’s finally over. The campaign has been long, even for those following it overseas in the Middle East. For Israelis like myself, it means no more viral emails proving, beyond a doubt, for sure, I was there (!) that Obama really and truly is a practicing Muslim actively linked to terrorist agendas.


And no more Facebook friends taking on the name “Hussein” as a counter to the Muslim claims.

No more hyped, speculative Web stories about how Obama will be terrible for Israel, terrible for the Middle East, great for the Arab world, terrible for the economy, good for the economy, or great for the environment.

He’s in. Change has indeed come to America and to the rest of the world and in the Mideast. It’s a done deal.

In Israel, where the vested interest in American interests is integrally linked, television sets blared Obama’s victory speech live and in stereo all morning, instant messages flew, and bloggers took to their screens.

We are one nation in this case as we eagerly eye “Mr. O.” from the Mediterranean, nervously awaiting foreign policy moves from America’s 44th president.

“May He Bring Better Times” Tel Aviv-based Israeli lawyer-blogger East Med Sea Peace headlines, admitting that he isn’t really sure what Obama plans to achieve but that he has high hopes.

Gila, a Jerusalem suicide bombing survivor, admits in her My Shrapnel posting that she isn’t impressed with Obama and wouldn’t have voted for him were she in the U.S.

I distrust his lack of experience. I distrust his lack of voting record. I distrust his collection of questionable associations. I distrust his proposed economic policies. I distrust his lack of foreign policy experience … “

Gila is quite impressed, however, with John Q Public.


I am thrilled because I am inspired. Not by Barack Obama, but by the American people. They did this.

Forget about the media and the political machine. Yesterday, it was the American people that got up and went to vote. It was ordinary American citizens who — instead of turning Election Day into an excuse to take a very long weekend or a daytrip — elected to stand in line for hours, in record-breaking numbers and in who-knows-what-sort-of-weather in order to exercise their right to vote. It was the American people, each individual acting in the privacy of a voting booth and in accordance with his or her beliefs and conscience, that submitted the ballots that have turned the political establishment on its ear by voting in a previously unknown, African American candidate.

On the other side of the Middle East neighborhood in Saudi Arabia, the comic relief award of the day goes to Saudi blogger Saudi Jeans whose entry reads:

Barack Obama is the 44th president of the United States. Congrats to Abu Hussein.

Neurotic Iraqi wife, fed up with the ongoing state of affairs in her country, was clearly blown away by the Obama victory — “It’s as if he is MY president”

Her optimism for Iraq’s future went into hanging onto the incumbent’s message of “Change.”

Change, change, change. Change is on its way. Change to the vicious Bush administration. The Bush administration that lied, tricked, conned the world, and most of all conned the Iraqis…

And …

I wonder how the Iraqi government reacted to the news. Must be a blow to them. A great blow. Yaaaaaaaaaaay. … About time; for five years they got what they wanted. They got what they wanted on the Iraqi individual’s account. They preyed on my people. They tore them apart. For five years they slept soundly knowing that Bush is there. Bush is there to protect these vultures. But change is on its way. I pray to god, I pray that Obama will have the (guts) to say NO to them. NO and ENOUGH.


It seems most Mideast bloggers share Neurotic’s sentiment — albeit in subtler tones. And Far Away blogger, however, claims to echo Arab World apathy in his election-related entry:

Arabs have, after all, discovered a very long time ago that American policy is American policy, regardless of whose face it’s associated with. And of course, as a lot of these people around me are Palestinians, we know damn well that it’s not going to change a thing about the most important issue in our lives.

And so, the American elections are dealt with with a certain level of impersonal apathy. Yeah, it’s brought up every now and then, and it’s all over the newspapers, and we all know that it affects us a lot more here than the parliamentary elections that took place last year … but, whatever.

In a later entry, however, And Far Away admits it isn’t all apathy and grumblings after all.

I think the world right now might just be happier than Americans themselves. Bush’s reign of terrorizing third world countries is now over. I did not think Obama would make it, he’s too liberal, too African American, and his middle name is Hussein. But I’m really glad I was wrong.

In Jordan, my treasure headlines her entry with: Mabruk President Obama! She voted absentee in this election and regrets not being stateside for the freebies…

Boy am I in the wrong country to vote.. . .in the U.S., show off your “I voted” sticker and you got free Starbucks coffee, AND a special Krispy Kreme Doughnut, AND – after polling between 5-8pm, a free scoop of Ben & Jerrys ice cream (so, it’s not like, bribery to vote, ya know?) I bet the original Daughters of the American Revolution are turning over in their graves.


Hopefully, in this case, the U.S. will influence Israeli trends as it normally does, as our elections approach in January. Yes, indeed, for Israel, more politics are in the forecast — election season is just beginning.

I’m putting on my Tzipi Livni button and heading out to hit up the neighborhood ice cream shops for a free cone.



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