Thursday, January 08, 2009

SAMEH ABDELAZIZ: The Two Americas, Israel, and I

by Sameh Abdelaziz

There have been always two Americas, and you’d better believe it, because I lived in both.

There is America that you and I know and love. It is an optimistic young and powerful country. It is free, democratic, opportunistic, with big cars, large houses, green lawns, blue pools, handsome men, and beautiful women.

Our country has a place for everybody, black, white, yellow and brown. We even elected a black president. We are all Americans, white collars, blue collars, and no collars. We have equal opportunity as long as we are willing to work fifty to sixty hours a week, spend beyond our means, and live on plastic.

Our America sent men to the moon, earned three fifth of Nobel awards, created the new capitalism, invented the pop culture, and built the meanest arm forces in human history to defend freedom and promote democracy. Our America is flawless.

However, there is a different America. It lives outside our borders, in the mind of people young and old, women, children, and men. This America exterminated natives, enslaved blacks, invented McCarthyism, nuked Hiroshima and Nagasaki, burned villages in Vietnam, and left its own people behind in New Orleans.

This foreign America supported tyrants in Philippines, Chile, Egypt, and Saudi. It rejected the Kyoto protocol signed by hundred and eighty-three parties, to save the planet It under cut, and refused to sign an agreement establishing the International Criminal Court (ICC). The goal of the ICC court was to create an international jurisdiction to prevent war crime

Over the last few days as I watched the live pictures of thick black smoke rising from residential buildings in Gaza, read my usual columns in the New York Times, and Washington Post, I felt reasonably at peace. The black smoke from a distance looked like a small backyard mishap. The thirty seconds devoted to the rising smoke in Gaza were smartly balanced by a camera shot of a hole, in a building in south Israel. The calm voice of the anchor describing the Gaza/Israeli conflict brought in mind the image of two adults sitting arguing while sipping their lattes. The message in short, Israel has the right to defend itself and thank god, they are not planning to reoccupy Gaza.

In the meantime, the world watched BBC and Al-Jazeera, read the associated press, and a few international papers on the web.

People living outside our borders learned about seven hundred Palestinians mostly women and children killed, and three thousand injured. They saw the images of hospitals without the most basic medical needs, and morgues where the dead had to share the same drawer. They watched as forty-five bodies lined up on the street after their hiding place -a UN school- was bombarded. The chief of operations for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency insisted that the school was clearly marked, and the GPS coordinates provided in advance to the IDF. He called the Gaza violence a “horrific tragedy” and a result of “political failure.” “There is no safe haven,” he said. Probably people across the planet also learned that while all nations on earth demanded a ceasefire resolution, America decided it would veto it.

Over the years, we in the first America either didn’t care about the rest of the world or were too busy to try to understand it. We believed that people living in these far away places hated us for our democracy, freedom or both.

That is not the case, people worldwide would love to be part of our America, but they reject that America. The America that we created for them through double standards when it comes to human suffering, selective and sometimes unprovoked use of force, and our unilateral and unconditional support of Israel, is the problem that we need to address.

I believe we elected Obama not as Republicans or Democrats but as independents looking for real and pragmatic solutions to our deep-seated problems. I believe that he understands the critical need to create a single America, which is capable of taking its rightful leadership role in the world, but understanding is never enough.

We need to exercise our human conscience and ability to mobilize for the sake of our children and the world future. The new administration will succeed only if all Americans understand that international relations influence our daily lives, from the gas we consume, to the people willing to die to hurt us.

It is only two weeks until inauguration, our country, president, and the world need to hear our voice finally. There is a single America, which is good, fair, and strong.

Sameh Abdelaziz, PMP is an Egyptian American born in Alexandria. He immigrated to the US in the late eighties, and has lived in many places in US and Europe. Sameh works as an IT manager and loves traveling, history, politics and human nature. "I love knowing people from different cultures; it never fails to amaze me how we all live in our little worlds that never meet." Mr. Abdelaziz publishes editorials frequently on OpEdNews and can be reached at

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