An Open Letter on the Middle East
to President Elect
From Elza S. Maalouf
Center for Human Emergence-Middle East
25 November 2008
Dear President Elect Obama,
Your election was celebrated by young Arabs all over the Middle East. In Syria they call you “Abu Hussein” an endearing term given to politicians they feel close to. Young people affiliated with our center in Kuwait, Dubai, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Palestine wished they had the right to vote for you. Lebanese youth proudly wore Obama T-shirts. “Yes we can” quickly became a slogan heard on Arab streets and our young people added “Yes we will.” This enthusiasm for an American political figure is unprecedented in the Arab world. For this and for the sake of global well-being we hope that your administration seizes the moment to help facilitate emergence in the Arab world; an emergence that will be lead by young- progressive Arab leaders and supported by a US administration that is ready to pioneer fresh approaches in foreign policy.
It is no secret that the key to restoring our credibility in the Arab world, is by –first and foremost- resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. For several years the Center for Human Emergence Middle East (CHE-ME) has dedicated its resources to uncovering the blockages that have prevented sustainable peace from taking root. We believe that in order for any Middle East peace road map to succeed a Palestinian Systemic Development Map has to be implemented first. Together with our Palestinian partners we have been working on a grass roots movement called “Build Palestine Initiative” in which we identified specific developmental steps that are congruent with the Palestinian value-systems and will be most effective in building capacities in Palestinian society. This movement has gained critical mass among progressive Palestinians who advocate self-reliance and we simply must continue supporting them.
Your choice of Chief of Staff and Secretary of State was met with a lot of apprehension in the Arab media. Polls show that over 60% of Arabs think that both Rahm Emanuel and Senator Clinton will be pro-Israel. The way we see it at the CHE-ME is that under the mandate for change that you are leading, pro-Israel should mean the following:
The Center for Human Emergence-Middle East will be presenting to your administration a position paper detailing our culturally-fit approach to solving the conflict, the breakthrough results we have achieved so far on a grass roots level, and recommended systemic strategies for ushering in sustainable peace.
Real change in the Middle East and in Palestine must come from new ways of thinking, fresh approaches to understanding cultural dynamics, and innovative ways to actually meet the developmental needs of people. We are certain you recognized many of these principles in your work in community development in south Chicago. Simply "doing more of the same" that has produced this situation, will not bring the outcome we all desire.
As a proud Arab-American I am encouraged to see the most powerful democracy in the world having the potential to become the most conscious democracy under your leadership. My hope is that the enthusiasm you brought to Arab youths is sustained by a bold action-plan that can support transformation and emergence in the Middle East.
Elza S. Maalouf
Chief Executive Officer
Center for Human Emergence- Middle East
Elza S. Maalouf is the CEO of the Center for Human Emergence-Middle East, a non-profit research and strategic design center that integrates different modes of thought and value-system priorities with geo-economic elements within the Arab world. She is leading innovation within the Islamic Arab world to identify complex thinking that will facilitate the emergence of Arabs into their 21st century Renaissance.