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In Gaza City, Muted Hopes for Obama

Posted by tothewire on January 26, 2009

In Gaza, cafe-goers watch the U.S. inauguration with mixed feelings

In Gaza, cafe-goers watch the U.S. inauguration with mixed feelings

There were no cheers in the Ranoush Café in Gaza City when Barack Obama was inaugurated. A few dozen young Palestinians watched the proceedings on one of the place’s four televisions, listening to Al-Jazeera’s Arabic voice-over as they sucked on Hubbly Bubblies, which are big water pipes with burning charcoal in the bowl. Afterward, the patrons said they were tentatively pleased. “He will be such a change from Bush, and maybe he won’t be under Israel’s belly like all the other presidents,” said Mahmoud Saqiya, 24, an IT engineer. If there was a consensus, that was it: cautious optimism. Many noted favorably that Obama spoke of reaching out to Muslims; indeed, he was the first president to use the word “Muslim” in an Inaugural Address.

From Gaza to Goa, people have invested Obama with their hopes. Take Omar Tawel, a 24-year-old computer-science graduate who, like most young men in Gaza, is unemployed. During the campaign, Tawel got so fired up that he organized dozens of his English-speaking friends and began cold-calling voters in America using VOIP on his laptop. “You wouldn’t believe how many hang-ups there were,” he told NEWSWEEK. He never heard from the Obama campaign, but an Arab-American group called and asked him to please stop. “They said it wouldn’t help, a lot of people already think he’s a Muslim from Africa.”

Now Tawel is despondent. He feels betrayed that Obama, as president-elect, refrained from speaking out after Israel pummeled Gaza. And yet, at this café in a shell-pocked building, Tawel’s view was roundly ridiculed. “He has many problems to solve,” said accountant Rafael Ali, 31. “We need to be patient.” Several others noted that it couldn’t be a coincidence that Israel declared its ceasefire only two days before Obama’s swearing-in—just enough time to pull most of its troops out of Gaza.

“Ah, he’ll screw the Palestinians,” said Marouf Dagmoush, a burly 200-pounder, plopping unbidden onto the arm of my chair. He sat too close to be friendly, though he bristled with bonhomie. “The Israelis are just taking a week off for this ceremony.” My translator confided that Dagmoush had already asked whether I was an American and where I was staying. “My family’s the one that kidnapped Alan Johnston,” he boasted, referring to the BBC’s Gaza bureau chief who was held for three months in 2007 by militant members of the Dagmoush clan. “Maybe I should kidnap you,” he said. I wrote that down. “Don’t do that, I’m only kidding.”

Very funny. As the old saying goes, Palestinians never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity. It was a grim reminder that Gaza is still run by terrorists from Hamas, who were popularly elected. Until Palestinians do something about that, there will be limits to what Obama can do for them.

By Rod Nordland | NEWSWEEK



5 Responses to “In Gaza City, Muted Hopes for Obama”

  1. I agree. The Palestinians cannot expect the President of the free World to suddenly side with a terrorist organisation. It’s a ridiculous notion.


  2. Lawman2 said

    hey there futiledemocracy! nice blog you have there!




  3. The mosad can also be called a terrorist organization as well.


  4. The Mossad have continually given the U.S information regarding terrorists slipping into the States. Most notably, just before 9/11.
    The Mossad doesn’t have the “obliteration” of another nation and it’s innocent people written as it’s mission statement as part of it’s convent.


  5. Actually they do, they just do not do it as publicly as the Hamas. The Mossad is the Isreali equvalent to our clandestine CIA mixed in with military special forces. They gather intelligence and fight off the “Muslim Threat.” The Iserali government is and has been fighting a war that will not end untill either the Palistienians leave or all die. And at the same time there are a quite a few Mossad agents that do not believe that there are any innocent Muslim people in the Gaza strip. They both use simular tactics and it is a quagmire, short of Nato peacekeepers keeping the two sides from fighting, it will never end. Both sides are guilty for waging this retarded war when they can both coexist peacefully if there was not all of that hatred towards each other. This is hate that is bred into both sides, many come to America to get away from it. And the Palesteinians that leave would be concidered as terrorists to the Mossad. That does not actually make them terrorists. But any type of “off the book” operation could also be construed as terrorism as well. In fact the Patriot Act is the ultimate testament to how much our government could terrorize the public. I mean seriously, I live in a small town and no one talks to one another anymore. You can see the fear as if they are wondering, if I anger my neighbor is he going to say that I am a terrorist? Because under the patriot act it actually allows law enforcement to detain someone that is a suspected terrorism with no just cause or evidance. It just takes suspicion, and they can be detained without a trial. Obama hopefully is going to change that act. Also the patriot act broadens the definition as terrorism and terror related crimes to all computer crimes. If you are caught trying to access another persons network you could be arrested as a terrorist. Whether you are just trying to filtch thier internet or trying to do something else it does not matter.


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