Reaching out to Gaza

Author Alaa al-Aswany wrote an op-ed about President Obama’s silence about the Gaza conflict in “Why the Muslim World Can’t Hear Obama,” published in The New York Times. He contends that President Obama’s rhetorical gesture to reach out to the Muslim world in his inaugural address and in an interview with Arab news station Al Arabiya wasn’t taken seriously by Egyptians because he has yet to break his silence on the conflict and his steadfast support of Israel.

Mr. Obama’s interview with Al Arabiya on Jan. 27 was an event that was widely portrayed in the Western news media as an olive branch to the Muslim world. But while most of my Egyptian friends knew about the interview, by then they were so frustrated by Mr. Obama’s silence that they weren’t particularly interested in watching it. I didn’t see it myself, but I went back and read the transcript. Again, his elegant words did not challenge America’s support of Israel, right or wrong, or its alliances with Arab dictators in the interest of pragmatism.

Do promises to reach out to the Muslim world matter if no one can hear them outside the US? Would actions speak louder than words? If so, what would a guesture of peace look like in the eyes of the Muslim world? We welcome other opinions below, please leave a comment if you have something to add to the dialogue.