by Khaled Abu Toameh
Many Arabs and Muslims hate the U.S. because it stands in the way of fulfilling their dream of destroying Israel. The strong sentiments against Israel and the U.S. are the direct result of decades of indoctrination and incitement.The anti-US protests that erupted in the West Bank and Gaza Strip before and during President Barack Obama's serve as a reminder that many Palestinians continue to loathe the U.S., primarily because of its support for Israel.
But U.S. support for Israel is not the only reason why such a large number of Palestinians -- as well as Arabs and Muslims -- hate the Americans with such intensity.
Palestinians who took to the streets during the week to protest against Obama's visit chanted slogans not only against him personally, but also in denunciation of U.S. policies and actions toward the Arabs and Muslims.
In Ramallah, for instance, hundreds of Muslim fundamentalists chanted slogans condemning the U.S. for "perpetrating massacres and atrocities" against Muslims in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"America is the number one enemy of Islam and Muslims," speakers at the anti-U.S. rally in Ramallah declared.
Palestinian Authority policemen, who are trained and funded by the U.S. and other Western countries, did not intervene even as the extremists also started criticizing the leaders of the Palestinian Authority for agreeing to meet with the "infidel" Obama.
Palestinian demonstrators in Bethlehem, who trampled on Obama's pictures and sprayed Nazi swastikas over them before setting them on fire, also explained that they were protesting not only against U.S. support for Israel, but also Washington's general attitude toward Arabs and Muslims.
"The Americans are the enemies of the Arabs and Muslims," shouted a Palestinian activist standing near Manger Square. "The Americans do only what the Jews tell them to do and that is why they are against all Arabs and Muslims."
The strong sentiments against Israel and the U.S. expressed by Palestinians are the direct result of decades of indoctrination and incitement.
Like the rest of the Arab and Islamic countries, Palestinians have been told that the U.S. is the "Great Satan" and number one enemy of all Arabs and Muslims.
Palestinians have been told by their media, leaders and mosque preachers that the U.S. is "controlled by evil Jews" who seek to humiliate Arabs and Muslims on behalf of the "Zionist Project."
Many Arabs and Muslims hate the U.S. because it stands in the way of fulfilling their dream of destroying Israel. Without U.S. backing for Israel, they believe, the Israelis would not be able to survive for one day in the Middle East.
Today it is almost impossible to find one Palestinian who trusts the U.S. and believes it can act as an honest broker in the Middle East.
Even senior Palestinian officials in Ramallah said -- in private briefings this week -- that the U.S. has lost its credibility as an honest broker.
Still, much of the hate on the Palestinian street was also directed toward Obama personally. In this regard, Obama can only blame himself for the reason why he has become a hated figure in the Arab and Islamic countries.
Obama's famous Cairo speech at the beginning of his first term in office created the impression among many Arabs and Muslims that this U.S. president was "one of ours" and would do everything they expected from him -- including forcing Israel to make unimaginable concessions.
But as Obama has failed to rise to their expectations, Arabs and Muslims are condemning him as a Zionist agent and an enemy of Islam.
Now that Obama has chosen Israel as the first country to visit at the beginning of his second term, he should expect more anger and hatred from Arabs and Muslims. His statements upon his arrival, in which he repeated U.S. support for Israel, have already drawn strong condemnations from Palestinians.
But then one wonders: If Palestinians hate Obama and the U.S. so much, why not just boycott his visit and refrain from talking to any representative of the U.S. government?
The answer is simple. Palestinians badly need U.S. money. They know the U.S. will never endorse all of their demands or cut off its ties with Israel. Yet they will continue to ask for U.S. money, largely because their Arab brothers have turned their backs on them and are refusing to help.
The U.S., of course, will continue to shower hundreds of millions of dollars on the Palestinian Authority. In return, Palestinians will continue to harbor hatred for the U.S.
Khaled Abu Toameh
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