Israel cheered along with tens of millions Americans Tuesday as the United States inaugurated its first-ever black president, Barack Obama, who converted to Christianity after being raised by his Kenyan-born father.
Outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert sent President Obama a rousing sendoff with praise for American democracy and hopes that "we will be full partners in advancing peace and stability in the Middle East."
President Shimon Peres said, "I am sure that Israel will be a good partner to President Obama. They say Obama will be a good President to Israel, and I say Israel will be a good country for the President, because his goals are our goals, his hopes are our hopes, his source is our source. All of us are coming from the same depth of Biblical convictions, with a permanent respect for the Ten Commandments."
The Arab world was less than enthusiastic, already suspicious that President Obama has surrounded himself with several Jewish advisors.
The Arab world was less than enthusiastic, already suspicious that President Obama has surrounded him with several Jewish advisors.
In his inaugural speech, the new President singled out extremist Muslims with an admonition that people will judge them "on what they build and not destroy." He called on Muslims "to seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect.”
At best, Arabs have great expectations from the new American government. Nabil Abu Rudeineh, a spokesman for Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas, said, "We are looking for a change in the direction of American policy in the Middle East."
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad termed the new president "hostile" and ignored the inauguration ceremonies.
The mood on the street of Iran's oil-rich ally Venezuela was pessimistic. Bloomberg News, speaking with the man-on-the-street in Muslim countries and allies of the Arab world, quoted a Venezuelan former municipality worker that Obama "is a black Bush," referring to immediate past President George W. Bush.
A Gaza City resident, sitting in his house where a picture of Hamas terrorist leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, eliminated by the IDF, hung on the wall, said that “America has to understand that Islam is the solution and the world sooner or later is going to turn into an Islamic world."
The negative tone in Gaza was reported by other media. French news agency AFP quoted bank employee Samih Zouhdo as saying, "No one cares about us," she said. "If we can't even count on Arab presidents, what can we hope for from an American president when they've always supported Israel?"
President Obama's middle name "Hussein" has not made an impression on the Arab world. "Despite everything that has been said about his Arab origins, something I personally don't believe, he will act according to the interests of the people who elected him," civil servant Khalil al-Attar told the news agency.
The entire Western world already has come under the gun from Arab media. The Khaleej Times, a major English-speaking daily in the United Arab Emirates, published an editorial condemning the Western world's summit in Egypt and Jerusalem this week.
"In what should be termed a classic case of appeasing the aggressor, world leaders have wasted no time in rushing to hold a summit on Israel's security in Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt and then dashing off to meet Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, perhaps to pat him on the back," the newspaper stated.
"After what happened in Gaza over the past four weeks, you would think the world would rush to Gaza with help and sympathy for a people who have been to Hell and back all over again. But it's Israel that is getting all the attention and help."