Blacks and the Arab-Israeli Conflict
Over time, blacks have become more sympathetic to Palestinians, but they won't express their views loudly -- despite President Obama's plunge into the Middle East conflict.
The president refuses to accept the status quo. He believes that there can be "a viable Palestine, a secure Israel." But Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel's prime minister, has totally dissed the president and pretty much said no to all the major points -- while still expecting American financial and military support.
Obama wants negotiations to start with the borders that existed in June 1967 -- before there was a war between Israel and its Arab neighbors. Negotiations would involve land swaps so that Israel could keep some of its settlements in the West Bank. This is what the president said: "Precisely because of our friendship, it is important that we tell the truth: The status quo is unsustainable, and Israel must act boldly to advance a lasting peace. The dream of a Jewish and democratic state cannot be fulfilled with permanent occupation."
Attempts to give peace a chance have been risky. More than 30 years ago, Egyptian President Anwar Sadat shared the Nobel Peace Prize with Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin for their efforts to bring peace to the Middle East under the guidance of President Jimmy Carter.
In his acceptance speech, Sadat said, "Let us put an end to wars, let us reshape life on the solid basis of equity and truth. And it is this call -- which reflected the will of the Egyptian people, of the great majority of the Arab and Israeli peoples, and indeed of millions of men, women and children around the world -- that you are today honoring. And these hundreds of millions will judge to what extent every responsible leader in the Middle East has responded to the hopes of mankind." Sadat was assassinated in 1981 by Muslim fundamentalists. The PLO did not mourn his death.
As an acquaintance told me, even when President Obama is right, he'll be seen by many folks as wrong. That's why I say this is a complicated story. But we should support the president's courage and determination to tackle one of the most sensitive topics on his agenda.
E.R. Shipp is a frequent contributor to The Root.