Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Presidential Inauguration Day

Predictably, most Israeli troops had withdrawn from Gaza before American Presidential inauguration day. Israel's stranglehold over all but the Egyptian border crossings ensures that the suffering continues unabated, whether or not accompanied by rocket and tank shell fire. The Israelis want to control all the aid that enters Gaza, with the aim of depriving Hamas of any resources to continue its struggle. Hamas has behaved as cynically and cruelly in its failure to act to preserve the lives of those who elected it to power. Each side has behaved as criminally wicked as the other. Who will call them to account? When?

Each side has declared its unilateral cease-fire ahead of the inauguration, perhaps so that the conflict would not attract critical comment from Washington when the attention of the world is focussed there. But when will something be said? When will the call to account begin for both sides? The Secretary General of the UN is already calling for an investigation of the shelling of UN compounds, as an illegal act. I can't help wondering what President Obama thinks of the reports from Gaza over the past weeks, and how he will address the situation in days to come, given how quiet he and his team has been on this affair during the past month.

The election of a black American president is an extraordinary moment in world history, but will it result in a change in attitudes and relationships between America and the people and nations of the Islamic world? Can change, of which Obama is such a passionate advocate, heal the deep wounds inflicted by western racism and injustice on the Holy Land and other countries in the region over the past century? This is what preoccupies me most at this end of this day of new beginning. The BBC Middle East correspondent Jeremy Bowen has a thoughtful posting on his blog today.

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