Yes We Can: A Letter to Obama from an Arab-American

Dear President Elect Obama,

I was born outside your state capital of Springfield, Illinois to Jordanian parents who in turn were children of Palestinians in exile. I am an US educated attorney who has spent long hours and days following and studying American culture, history and politics. I have always been fascinated by the dynamics of American society and the promise of the American dream. Therefore, as I followed your campaign over the past year not only did I become deeply moved by your message, but also grasped the historical significance of your victory. Like many of my fellow Arab and Muslim brothers and sisters across the world I celebrated your victory with tears of joy and with screams of jubilation.

Of course our joy was not driven by any misconceptions that your victory would magically alter American policies toward the Middle East. These policies have, and will continue to be, blindly supportive of Israel’s hegemony and its barbaric abuse and erosion of the inalienable rights of Palestinians – which unfortunately has been on full display over the past fortnight.

Our joy was a celebration of the embodiment of our deepest and most noble belief, namely: that at in all matters of humanity, irrespective of time and place, a just cause will always emerge victorious and a suppressed people will always be redeemed. That is why we celebrate Gandhi for leading his people to overcome colonialism; that is why we celebrate Mandela for driving South Africans of all colors to bury apartheid; and that is why we celebrate you as you fulfill the dreams of your forefathers and lead African-Americans as they stake their rightful place in American society. As part of m personal celebration I went out and bought Obama T-Shirts for my family and myself. My T-shirt is of a profile of your face with the word “hope” written across the background, my two year old daughter has a T-shirt of a tree whose leaves are all peace signs and whose roots spell the name “Obama” and my pregnant wife’s simply states: “Mama Loves Obama”! That is certainly true.

However, more impressive than your victory was the method in which it was achieved. You confronted the worst in American society by always presenting its best attributes. You fought politics as usual with principled campaigning. You fought division through inclusion. You fought racism through multi-culturism. You fought negativity with positivity. You fought stagnation with change. You fought fear with hope. You always refused to succumb to those comfortable positions that made American politics mistrusted across the globe by always remaining true to your personal beliefs, your family values and your founding fathers’ most noble ideals.

Your victory, and the manner in which it achieved, inspired us to remain true to our beliefs, values and ideals in order to overcome our misery. We believe in our right to live in our land in peace; we value human life whatever creed, color, religion or race; we have faith that our Creator will judge us by our deeds. We therefore draw inspiration from you to continue to fight for our right to live in our land, while always valuing the sanctity of human life, and doing so in line with the most noble teachings of our faith: moderation and peace.

Like my T-Shirt reads, one must hope. We hope that the day will come when our just cause will follow others and when our people will overcome their struggle. We look forward to reaching our own mountain top to look over and see our children jumping rope rather than ducking bullets; when our parents watch their sons and daughters graduate school and not watch them carried away to be buried as victims of war crimes; when our elderly can live out their years in joy after earning the right to retire after a life fulfilled, not living in fear while their houses collapse over their heads as they lay there hopelessly waiting for food, medicine or relief that is unlikely to arrive.

While Israel unleashes its wrath of collective punishment on the desolate people of Gaza we hope that your Presidency will live up to its mantra and will stand for change. We hope that you will break your silence to speak against the unjust and inhumane persecution of Palestinians. As you taught us, we can only hope. We hope that with your support we can change the world…. YES WE CAN.

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  1. Mishaal Al Gergawi
    Posted January 9, 2009 at 6:06 am | Permalink

    Great Expectations

  2. Valerie
    Posted January 9, 2009 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

    Amazing letter I love its posivity. Bravo

  3. Panicos Panayiotou
    Posted January 11, 2009 at 7:47 am | Permalink

    Let’s hope for an evolution to a fairer American policy in the Middle East.

  4. Kolhaas
    Posted January 12, 2009 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

    Hope and fear are two sides of the same false coin. What we need to look at are the facts in front of our faces: Obama has remained silent about Gaza, and hypocritically attributes his silence to “one president at a time” policy making, even though this doesn’t prevent him from talking daily about the financial crisis and the “new direction” he plans to take in Afghanistan. Let’s be realistic about Obama; he is a politician who used the zeitgeist as an opportunity to get elected, but whose political vision is more of the same with a chummier face. And it’s no mystery where his cabinet stands in relation to Israel.

  5. AH
    Posted January 13, 2009 at 7:47 pm | Permalink

    Hope it gets read

  6. Posted March 20, 2010 at 10:38 am | Permalink

    Barack Obama’s book, “The Audacity of Hope,” shows a appealing title. It has a taste of bravery mixed with full confidence. There is nothing Pollyanna about it. I would possibly not support every little thing he says, but he’s our president, as well as for me, he creates confidence. Which can do more for just a region than any number of backroom deals. Hope gives us energy, and energy sustains us through trying times. Boy, we’ve had them. I’m from West Texas, and I did not vote for Bush. When McCain ran against Obama, I was a citizen of Arizona, but I gave audacious hope a chance. The fight for progress and laying the foundations of prosperity will not be over. I have come across the quips of those that don’t believe Obama is capable of it. But step back a moment. Would anyone have most of us fail simply to tarnish the star of an incumbent for whom they did not vote? Trying to keep our priorities straight, let’s work together with this president and build our future.