Columbia International Affairs Online: Working Papers

CIAO DATE: 02/2010

Obama's First 150 Days: Perspectives from an Arab American Writer

Gregory Orfalea

December 2009

Center for Contemporary Arab Studies


Barack Obama's said in the first presidential primary in Iowa in March 2007: "I'm not running to conform to Washington's conventional thinking-I m running to challenge it...We've had enough of politicians who put power over principlel." Such strong words are downright revolutionary considering how business is normally conducted in this country concerning the Israel-Palestine dispute. Obama's interest in Middle East peace and his pain over its wars seem to have been there from the start, bred in his spirit, ordained by his blood, and smack dab in the reality of his Muslim name-Barack Hussein Obama. It hardly seems possible he could escape it, even if he wanted. Obama's exceptional 1995 book, his autobiographical "Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance", makes such leanings, particularly towards racial, economic, and political justice, clear, though there are no specific out-and-out debates on the Middle East.