By Alina Vrejoiu
The dramatic remarks were made only a week after Obama successfully caught one of the biggest terrorist masterminds.
It is by no accident that Obama is carefully strategizing his move in terms of the juxtaposition events from the past - comparing the upheaval in the Middle East and Africa to the American Revolution and the Civil Rights movement - and present in order to make his next move in the Middle East. He knows that there is a thirst by the public for dignity and freedom and he is willing to move out ahead into the torrent of change. Israel, on the other hand, is not ready for this sudden change to happen even though a democratic approach would work in its favor.
Obama has reassured the Israelis in his recent meeting on May 19th with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that, “Our commitment to Israel's security is unshakable. And we will stand against attempt to single it out for criticism in international forums.”
Obama was, unfortunately, criticized for siding with the Israelis instead of understanding that we are not going to take sides. Yes, the United States sees Israel as an ally because we are supposed to share the same values and because it is the only country in the Middle East that embraces democracy and freedom.
However, in Obama's landmark Cairo speech of June 2009 he strongly recognized the suffering of Palestinian people through dispossession, occupation, and refugee status.
Said Obama: "...It is also undeniable that the Palestinian people - Muslims and Christians - have suffered in pursuit of a homeland. For more than sixty years they have endured the pain of dislocation. Many wait in refugee camps in the West Bank, Gaza, and neighboring lands for a life of peace and security that they have never been able to lead. They endure the daily humiliations - large and small - that come with occupation. So let there be no doubt: the situation for the Palestinian people is intolerable. America will not turn our backs on the legitimate aspiration for dignity, opportunity, and a state of their own."
With the Palestinian population steadily growing and technology and social networking playing a big role in revolution and change, there is an urgency like never before to establish peace between these two parties. The existing state of affairs is no longer sustainable; there must be agreement to conform to a peace process and Israel should take the lead in these negotiations.
Obama has made it clear that neither he nor the United Nations can force an agreement if face-to-face discussions don’t happen and there is no real determination for peace to occur. After all, the 1967 line settlement was supposed to be for Israeli defense purposes and we have seen Jewish family settlements put in place instead.
Transparency and open dialogues with a fair redrawing of state lines is the only way a peace process can begin to flourish. I hope we will not allow misconceptions to contaminate history once again.
Establishing a new government and a new state for Palestinians that will allow for freedom of speech, thought and free elections is better than one that imposes its ideology by force. Israel needs to step up to the plate and recognize a Palestinian state in order to move forward into the new world. Waiting for a peace accord is no longer an option in the Middle East.
Alina Vrejoiu is a faculty member of Kingsborough Community College in Brooklyn, New York and has taught international students for the last four years.