By Miko Peled
The racist discourse in America is alarming and often people don’t even notice when it takes place. When the lady at the town hall meeting asked John McCain if Barak Obama was an Arab he replied: “No, no he is a decent family man.” Where is the contradiction here? Does Arab mean he is not a decent family man? Well, pardon me but I am Jewish and I am over sensitive and easily offended by these things.
To the claim that Obama is an Arab, the appropriate response is: “So what.” To the question is Barak Obama a Muslim the reply ought to be: “I don’t know but who cares.”
Contrary to what many people say, the holocaust was not the worst thing that happened to Jewish people, and it is not the recurrence of the holocaust that we need to fear the most. The holocaust was the inevitable outcome of centuries of European Christian indoctrination that Jewish people are less than human. What took place in the holocaust was the natural outcome of centuries where Christians taught hate. It is the recurrence of that trend we need to prevent so that another holocaust will never take place.
America is poised for a tremendous opportunity this November. It is far greater than landing a man on the moon, or building this or that space gadget or discovering this or that microbe. It is to show America that to be American you don’t have to be called Jim or George or Bob; that you don’t have to look like those white old guys who have their portraits all over the place. No, you can be an African, or an Arab or an Asian and still be an American because the truth is that it has been this way for more than two centuries.
But this is a formidable task. Making the next eight years the best in America’s history will require strength and courage that are yet to be asked of Americans on Election Day. On Election Day most of us like to go stick to our old comforts and loyalties, to find the person who looks and speaks like us or in a way that makes us feel comfortable. We want “our guy” or the guy from “our team” to win. We are all human and that is how humans act. This is ok under normal circumstances
But this year the opportunity is so great that we must look beyond our usual loyalties and comforts. This year we need to look at what America can really be like in eight years and that is a hard thing to do. We are drawn into despair by news of an economic crisis, by fears of impending attacks by terrorists and by the possibility that our earth is on the brink of a major natural disaster. It is only natural then, that we all cling to what we know to be true that we cling to what we believe to be right and that we cover our eyes and our ears to anything that might rattle our comfort.
America has done things that no other country has done, and this includes acts of magnanimity as well as acts of great stupidity and cruelty. This is the nature of great nations – that they have the capacity to do great things and they have the power to make colossal mistakes. This election year presents this nation with an opportunity to show its greatness, to show its magnanimity and to show its true strength.
No one needs proof of America’s military or economic might. Just take one look at the talented men and women who make up the armed services. People who like me live in Coronado see these men and women daily. I have the privilege of working with many families who have loved ones in the navy: The are the best and the brightest and they are the most dedicated people and parents one can hope to meet. We also know that America has brilliant minds in the fields of economy and science and quite possibly every other field known to man.
Every powerful nation has good leaders and bad leaders. Every powerful nation in the history of the world has shown greatness and has stooped down to pettiness; every powerful nation has had its time of glory and its times of shame. The last eight years have brought this country to an unprecedented low. It is up to us this year to determine what the next eight years be like for America.
No one knows how long it will take to build the destruction that America caused to Iraq, or how long it would take for the Iraqis to forgive America for its intervention. From my knowledge of the people of the Middle East I would venture to say that for the most part they are magnanimous and forgiving. Iraqis will undoubtedly rebuild their country, but the sooner America leaves the better things will be for Iraq and for the Middle East as a whole.
The questions that Americans need to ask is how do we make sure we are not drugged and mislead into another war as we with Iraq. If the surge did or did not work is immaterial because there would have not been a need for a surge had America not destroyed the order that was there to begin with. And the issue is not what the generals recommend that the government should or should not do, it is for the government to tell the generals what they should be doing and when.
There are many issues the next President will need to tackle, more so than most Presidents and we would do well to make sure that the next President is the guy with the audacity to hope. It is time for America to look beyond the color, to look beyond the fear; to trust that its ok to have a first family that does not look like any first family before it.
So I say once again, pardon me, but I am Jewish. I see no contradiction between being an Arab and being a decent family man. This is one issue about which America needs to be very clear.
-Miko Peled is an Israeli peace activist and writer living in the US. He is co founder of the Elbanna Peled Foundation in memory of Smadar Elhanan and Abir Aramin. Peled is the son of the late Israeli General Matti Peled. He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com. Contact him at: email@example.com.