Tidbits of Arabic News translated into English

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Do Arabs Trust the US Role in Peace Talks?

(July 22, 2013)

The US is trying to bring peace between the Palestinians and Israelis again, so the BBC Arabic went out to ask random people on the Arab street what they think about this, starting with these people from the Gaza Strip:

This guy says he has no trust whatsoever in the US getting involved between Palestine and Israel.

This guy says the only reason the US is getting involved now is because the US has lost its primacy in the Middle East, and is anxious to regain it. The US wants to prove that it is still able to make things march to its whistle. Having seen that dictators supported by the US were overthrown by people power, the US wants to make sure it becomes the principal player once again.

This guy says that the idea of peace is over. He says: every time the US says 'peace, peace', the only thing that happens is that there are more Israeli settlements built on Palestinian land, and the more the US talks about peace, the bigger the settlements get.

Then the camera moved from the Gaza Strip to Ramallah, a city which lies in the West Bank, which is also a Palestinian territory. The people there were asked what they thought of the timing of the US peace efforts.

This man said the every problem eventually gets its time for attention. Now that there's problems in Egypt and Syria, it's time for peace talks here - but the talks should be fair for both the Israelis and Palestinians, he adds.

This man says if the US truly believes in a two-state solution and in the rights of the Palestinians, then the negotiations will work. But the unlimited support of the US for Israel on the international stage, and sending them monthly aid, just shows that in fact the US has support for no one in the region other than Israel and Israel's security.

This man says the negotiations are both good and not good. I'm actually not sure what he said. Either he said that the Israelis and Palestinians have to figure it out themselves, or he said that the US has to force through a solution. But he sounded a bit more optimistic than everyone else.

This guy says, what's the meaning in having the entire Middle East blow up all at once? The whole Middle East has struggles and revolutions right now, so the US is trying to lighten the load in some areas. So here's our chance come.

"As a Palestinian, I don't trust the American role, it is known there's a strong connection between Washington and Tel Aviv, and the US is historically biased towards Israel."

And finally, the camera went to ask people in Egypt what they thought. I don't know why they went there, except that Egypt borders the Gaza Strip. Any case, I am too tired to get more screenshots, so I will just write down what people said, and you will miss the chance of seeing more handsome Arab men in all their full glory.

Guy #1 - The US has Israel's wellness as its first and last priority, and this is all propaganda, and they are just trying to make the Palestinians and Hamas look bad.

Guy #2 - The US is trying to broker an agreement between two sides, but we all know from way back that the US has to play a strong role for Israel, and protect it at all costs, and maintain its independence and sovereignty.

Guy #3 - don't understand

Guy #4 - The US acting like the negotiator is, you know, to a certain extent - well, I won't tell you that - well, there's just so many opinions, it's not just the President, the Congress also has its say. Sometimes Congress is with you, and sometimes not. (Says some more stuff I don't understand.) Then: for example, the Egyptian Revolution. At first, the US was against it. Then, it was for it.

Guy #5 - the US has never in its life been impartial between Israel and Palestine. The US is Israel's biggest friend. Let's not kid ourselves.

Guy #6 - I think he said that following the recent Arab revolutions, the US has done some reflecting and is trying to right its previous wrongs.

Then, they interviewed a lady. Yes, finally, a lady. But she was not picked up off the streets, she's an Arab lady speaking through video link-up from Washington DC. She's some kind of political analyst. She said it is not a matter of the US trying to take advantage of a situation, it is just that everything has lined up, in that the rulers of both sides have agreed to negotiations, and some other stuff, all too boring to write. Ah, she also said that Obama is trying to get a legacy, and he cannot not try, he must try!

She ended by saying, I've noticed many of your commentators think the Arab world is acted upon, without acting itself. But the truth is that the US does not have full control over what is happening in the Middle East because it cannot impose everything.

Then a very old man with a quavery voice called in, and he said, Inshallah, these negotiations will work out.

Then a man with a young voice called in. He said, no, the negotiations won't work.

Someone wrote in: is the US president going to pressure Israel to stop building its settlements? No, the US president is unable to do anything.

Someone else wrote in: us Arab countries going through the revolutions need to become stronger ourselves, then things will get better.

At the end of the program, they showed the results of a survey of BBC Arabic website users who had answered the poll question: do you trust the current American peace negotiations between Palestinians and Israelis? Here's a screenshot of the pie chart:

Now, I know that not all of y'all speak Arabic, but I'm guessing, based on the comments gathered above, that you don't need me to tell you which color of the pie chart means, "yes, I trust the US role", and which means "no".

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