Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Abraham Lincoln @ 200 Years: Looking for the man behind the myths

At a time when memories of the inauguration of President Barack Obama in Washington D.C. remain fresh in the minds of many people, the mental image of a former U.S. president stands out above all others___ Abraham Lincoln, America’s 16th president. This month marks the commemoration of Abraham Lincoln’s 200th birthday with special events and programs taking place all across America.

For people here in Europe who have had the opportunity to learn about American history the name Abraham Lincoln is well known. People generally associate President Lincoln with the freeing of black slaves in the United States of America through the issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863. Others remember that he was successful in helping to save the union of northern and southern states at the end of the American Civil War (1861-1865). Like all great heroes and important figures in world history the knowledge and visions many of us have about Abraham Lincoln are not exactly accurate.

Thanks to the work of some outstanding people with a special interest and deep knowledge of American history the U.S.A. is well prepared this year to share with the world the legacy of this great American figure on his 200th birthday. Among the many historians who have produced recent work on the life of Lincoln, the name of one of my favorite US historians stands out___ Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr. of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research (Harvard University).

In the current issue of TIME magazine (TIME.com) there is a special feature on Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr. where readers had the opportunity to ask a question of this prominent historian. On Monday this week I was delighted to learn that out of 77 questions posed to Dr. Gates from people around the globe, my question about the complex relationship Abraham Lincoln had with prominent American blacks and black slaves was one of the ten questions selected by the editors for the interview. To be honest I am overjoyed that both Gilbert Cruz of TIME.com and Dr. Gates decided to field my question. Here is the exact text of the question I submitted to TIME.com editors and Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr.:

TIME.com - 10 Questions - Ask Henry Louis Gates Jr.

My question submitted to TIME.com on January 28, 2009

Dear Dr. Gates,

First I would like to say that I am big fan of your work in American history and that I closely follow your writings and documentary/educational multi-media productions online from Germany. I also am a regular visitor to your new online publication TheRoot.com

My Question:
In your recent op-ed ‘A Pragmatic Precedent’ at The New York Times (co-authored with John Stauffer) you explain the complex feelings and views President Abraham Lincoln held toward black people. Could you please expand on that topic in your upcoming interview with TIME.com.
Why did Lincoln view the great abolitionist Frederick Douglas as an (almost) intellectual equal but at the same time fail to understand that many African Americans in the mid-19th century had the same potential for achievement and success if only given education and opportunity to show what they could do? Surely President Lincoln was aware of other great black intellectuals that had emerged on the public scene in Europe from the 17th century up to his time (i.e. Professor Anton Wilhelm Amo in Germany et al.). Thank you for your consideration of this question.
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Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr. responds to questions posed by TIME Magazine readers in the article and online video interview below:

TIME.com: 10 Questions for Henry Louis Gates Jr.
Photo Essay: Henry Louis Gates Jr.: A Life in Letters - 10 Questions - TIME
TIME.com video: 10 Questions Interview with Henry Louis Gates Jr.
http://link.brightcove.com/services/link/bcpid1670048590/bclid1342094282/bctid10280451001
Ask Henry Louis Gates Jr.: 10 Questions - TIME.com (list of 77 questions submitted)
------------------------------

So you see, it’s all in how you ask the question when you want to get the attention of a great US historian AND get a ‘Hat Tip’ from TIME.com to boot. Of course my introduction with high praise for Gates’ previous work on historical subjects didn’t hurt my chances of receiving a reply to my question.

Here are excerpts from a New York Times op-ed written by Henry Louis Gates Jr. and John Stauffer* just two days before the inauguration of the 44th US president:

January 19, 2009
Op-Ed Contributors
A Pragmatic Precedent
By HENRY LOUIS GATES Jr. and JOHN STAUFFER

UNTIL a martyred John F. Kennedy replaced him, Abraham Lincoln was one of the two white men whose image most frequently graced even the most modest black home, second in popularity only to Jesus. Perhaps none of his heirs in the Oval Office has been as directly compared to Lincoln as will Barack Obama, in part because Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation began freeing the slaves descended from the continent on which Mr. Obama’s father was born, and in part because of Mr. Obama’s own fascination with Lincoln himself.

Much has been written about what Mr. Obama thinks about Lincoln; but not much has been said about what Lincoln would think of Barack Hussein Obama. If his marble statue at the Lincoln Memorial could become flesh and speak, like Galatea, what would the man who is remembered for freeing the slaves say about his first black successor?

It is difficult to say for sure, of course, but one thing we can be fairly certain about is that Lincoln would have been, um, surprised. Lincoln was thoroughly a man of his times, and while he staunchly opposed slavery — on moral grounds and because it made competition in the marketplace unfair for poor white men — for most of his life he harbored fixed and unfortunate ideas about race.

Lincoln had a very complex relationship with blacks. Abolition was a fundamental part of Lincoln’s moral compass, but equality was not. While he was an early, consistent and formidable foe of slavery, Lincoln had much more ambivalent feelings about blacks themselves, especially about whether they were, or could ever be, truly equal with whites.

For example, on Aug. 14, 1862, he invited five black men to the White House to convince them to become the founders of a new nation in Panama consisting of those slaves he was about to free. A month before emancipation became law, he proposed a constitutional amendment guaranteeing financing for blacks who wished to emigrate to Liberia or Haiti.

Degrading words, deplored by most white abolitionists, like “Sambo” and “Cuffee,” found their way into Lincoln’s descriptions of blacks; he even used “nigger” several times in speeches. He also liked to tell “darkie” jokes and had a penchant for black-faced minstrel shows. The Lincoln of pre-White House days was a long way from the Great Emancipator; “recovering racist” would be closer to the truth.

…The truth is that successful blacks were almost total strangers to Lincoln, born as he was on the frontier and raised in a state settled by white Southerners. From this perspective, then, Lincoln most probably would have been shocked, perhaps horrified, by Mr. Obama’s election. Like the majority of Northern whites, Lincoln had a vision of America that was largely a white one.

End excerpts_____ Read the complete article ‘A Pragmatic Precedent’ at the New York Times.

Note*: John Stauffer is one of the world’s leading scholars of antislavery, protest movements, and interracial relations. He is currently the Chair of the History of American Civilization Program and Professor of English and African American Studies at Harvard University. Visit his personal website at johnstaufferbooks.com.


PBS Lincoln Bicentennial TV program special ‘Looking for Lincoln’
Scheduled broadcast: February 11, 2009 @ 21:00 EST in the U.S. and Canada

A very interesting and educational TV program will be airing in the U.S. during the bicentennial celebration of Abraham Lincoln’s birthday. The documentary film ‘Looking for Lincoln’ will be showing on the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS). ‘Looking for Lincoln’ was written and is presented by Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr. (see profile above). Dr. Gates had help from other outstanding US historians and Lincoln scholars, US political figures, editors and writers. Here is how PBS describes some of the key contributors to ‘Looking for Lincoln’:

In the film, Gates shows how the Lincoln legend grew out of controversy, greed, love, clashing political perspectives, power struggles, and considerable disagreement over how our 16th president should be remembered. His quest to piece together Lincoln’s complex life takes him from Illinois to Gettysburg to Washington, D.C., and face-to-face with people who live with Lincoln every day – relic hunters, re-enactors, and others for whom the study of Lincoln is a passion.

Among those weighing in: Pulitzer Prize winners Doris Kearns Goodwin and Tony Kushner; presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush; and Lincoln scholars including Harold Holzer, vice chair of the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission; Harvard University’s president Drew Faust and history professor David Hebert Donald; Yale University history professor David Blight; and Allen Guelzo of Gettysburg College. Former Ebony magazine editor Lerone Bennett challenges Lincoln’s record on race; writer Joshua Shenk talks about Lincoln’s depression; and New Yorker staff writer Adam Gopnik illuminates how Lincoln’s words changed the course of history.

So don’t miss it! ‘Looking for Lincoln’ will be airing at 8:00 PM EST starting on Wednesday, February 11, 2009 on your local PBS channel (check local listings). And for the rest of us living outside of the United States (foreigners, American ex-pats, and aliens) the 2-hour program is available online indefinitely at the Looking for Lincoln website at PBS (see PBS links listed below).
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Note**: The Land of Lincoln (the State of Illinois) and President Abraham Lincoln’s legacy figure prominently in the history of my own family. Illinois was the American frontier (Illinois country) where one of my ancestors settled in the late 18th century as a free man. He was a former black slave who won his hard-fought freedom shortly after the end of the American Revolutionary War against the British. He arrived in this beautiful, unspoiled frontier land in the year 1790 and settled not far from the Mississippi River. According to family and official records he built a home, married and founded a family, raised horses and cows and did a bit of farming on his small plot of land.

This all took place nineteen years before Abraham Lincoln was born at Knob Creek Farm (Kentucky) and thirteen years before President Thomas Jefferson launched the Lewis & Clark Expedition (1803-1806) to explore the vast land mass west of the Mississippi River to the Pacific coast (incl. the Louisiana Purchase). Imagine that. This is perhaps a great story that deserves much more attention___ someday in the not so distant future.


Related articles and other resources on Abraham Lincoln

Lincoln Bicentennial Commission (1809-2009) - Live the Legacy
(U.S. Government official website)

The New York Times
Op-Ed Contributors - A Pragmatic Precedent by Henry Louis Gates Jr. and John Stauffer, 01/18/09

The Huffington Post
John Stauffer: What Obama Can Learn from Lincoln's Inaugural

PBS (Public Broadcasting Service)
Looking for Lincoln PBS
About the documentary ‘Looking for Lincoln’
Looking for Lincoln (press release November 20, 2008)
African American Lives 2 (press release July 2007)

The New York Times
Television Review - 'Looking for Lincoln' - Henry Louis Gates Jr. Examines a Hero and Is Surprised to Find a 19th-Century Man

The Los Angeles Times – review of the PBS special ‘Looking for Lincoln’
In search of the flesh-and-blood Abraham Lincoln - Los Angeles Times


Companion books to the PBS broadcast 'Looking for Lincoln'
Amazon.com: Looking for Lincoln: The Making of an American Icon: Philip B. Kunhardt III, Peter W. Kunhardt, Peter W. Kunhardt Jr.

The Christian Science Monitor (CSM)
Looking for Lincoln book review by Alfredo Sosa, Dec 8, 2008

Princeton University Press
Gates, H.L., Jr. and Yacovone, D., eds.: Lincoln on Race and Slavery. March 2009
Amazon.com
Giants: The Parallel Lives of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln by John Stauffer
John Stuaffer’s personal website (johnstaufferbooks.com)


TheRoot.com
Finding Lincoln Smart and Funny
Note: formerly titled ‘The Man Who Knows Lincoln’

Colbert Nation with host Stephen Colbert (Comedy Central)
Henry Louis Gates, Jr., February 3rd, on ColbertNation.com
US comedian Stephan Colbert interviews Henry Louis Gates Jr. about President Abraham Lincoln and the new book “Lincoln on Race and Slavery”


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Monday, February 02, 2009

US President Obama and the Al Arabiya interview: the Muslim world talks back

The new US administration under President Barack H. Obama has certainly gotten off to a fast start since the inauguration on January 20th. One of the most interesting news stories to develop over the past weeks is the exclusive interview granted by the White House to the Arab news network Al Arabiya. The Al Arabiya TV network is ranked (a distant) Nr. 2 behind the Al Jazeera network amongst Arab and Muslim viewers worldwide.

The Nr. 1 foreign policy challenge that has frustrated many diplomats and world leaders over the past half a century is Der Ewige Krieg (the Forever War) between the Israelis and Palestinians & Co. Many people have watched for decades how presidents, kings, prime ministers and foreign ministers, special envoys and UN bosses, a long and growing list of people that includes some of the best foreign policy minds and diplomats the world has to offer____ all fail in helping these two eternal enemies find a sustainable resolution to their many problems. When US Vice-President Joe Biden made the remark “They’re gonna test this guy…” during the 2008 election campaign, I and many others understood who he meant with ‘they’ and what the greatest foreign policy challenge for the new US administration would be ___ achieving a just and sustainable peace the Middle East. In my opinion it was a very good move that President Barack Obama chose to reach out to the Arab and Muslim world by granting his first TV interview to Al Aribiya.


Extending a hand in peace and pulling back a stub?
A roundup of reactions to President Barack Obama’s words for the Arab and Muslim people of the world

There are a number of good editorials and blog posts commenting on the Al Aribiya interview with President Obama. I’ll start with a blogger roundup of Middle Eastern and North African (MENA) opinions at Global Voices Online (the Berkman Center @ Harvard Law School). In the post titled ‘MENA: Reflections on Obama’s Al Arabiya Interview’ Lasto Adri offers a sample of what bloggers who write about Middle East affairs are saying about the interview:

…But The Arabist [based in Cairo], in his “Obama’s TV appearance” post answered Zeinobia’s and Rob’s concerns pointing [out]:

Very good on the Obama team to have made this move, which was necessary, so quickly.

It repairs some, but only some, of the damage caused by his silence on Gaza.

The choice of Arabiya was most probably a decision to appeal to the Saudis, have Obama underline the importance of their Arab Initiative which has been snubbed by Israel and the US under Bush.

Nonetheless Arabiya is problematic - this is the channel dubbed Hibriya (The Hebrew One) because of its coverage of the Gaza crisis and that generally defends the views of Riyadh, Cairo and other problematic US allies. This confirms that Obama will not, like Bush since 2006, go against Egypt and Saudi on domestic issues and there won’t be a rethink of the US relationship with these. But if you thought that would happen, [then] you’re stupid.

Should Obama have gone to Jazeera instead? Perhaps not, for both domestic reasons (the criticism he would expose himself to, even if unwarranted) and because there are genuine US complaints about Jazeera. But at some later point, he should go to Jazeera - especially if it is to pitch a major conflict resolution initiative in the region. At the end of the day, despite its bias, Arabiya is the number two pan-Arab stations. (In many countries, like the rest of the world, Arabs actually watch their national TV stations most.)

Obama’s next move should be to disband al-Hurra. It’s a useless waste of money.

End excerpt________

These are very interesting viewpoints and of course the feedback from the crew of Cairo-based journalists and other contributors at The Arabist is invaluable. Please read the entire post ‘Obama’s TV Appearance’ at The Arabist.


During the jubilation and excitement described in my previous post about the inauguration of Barack Obama as the 44th President of the United States of America it was evident to me that several Arabs and Muslims in my community did not share in the world’s excitement. Only a select few Muslims that I know personally have expressed to me an understanding of what this change in political leadership means for citizens of the US, The Middle East, Africa and Europe. Of course my personal observation may not mean very much since there are 10’s of thousands of Arabs and Muslims that live in this German city. Conversations amongst Muslims here about the Obama presidency are taking place in private homes, in the workplace, in the shops and M√§nnervereins (men’s social clubs) and on college and university campuses. Like people everywhere the Muslim world is wondering if this dramatic change in American leadership will help bring about a much-needed change in relations between the West and the East.

Not surprisingly most of my older Arab and Muslim friends (guys over 50 years of age) do understand the significance of Obama’s election victory. They have told me how deeply moved they were while watching the inauguration of America’s first African American president on television, and how hopeful they are about the chance for new opportunities and promises of change offered by the new US administration. I am especially proud of this small, tight circle of friends from the Middle East and Europe (I am the only American member). We may fight and argue over geo-politics and global issues and crisis, but at the end of the day we always remain friends and courteous to one another. I reckon that this is quite an accomplishment for a group of old war hawks and former enemies.

I do believe that a majority of Muslims in my community remain very skeptical of President Obama being able to bring about any significant change in the Middle East and I would also say that their views represent the views of average citizens across the Arab/Persian region and throughout the Muslim world. Of course there are some people who will never believe that “Americans are not your enemy.” To accept this statement from a US president as truth would be too much of a shock to their system of values and beliefs. Fortunately (I presume) there are only a few people in my own community who or so lost in their beliefs as to think in this way.

President Obama’s appearance on Al Aribiya surely was one of the most significant interviews of a US political leader directed at the Arab and Muslim world in years. Let’s hope that he and other members of his administration make a regular practice of granting access to journalists working for the press and news media worldwide.


One of the better summaries about the Obama - Al Aribiya interview that I have read was written by Marc Lynch, an associate professor of political science at George Washington University and author of the popular Middle East blog, Abu Aardvark. Marc Lynch wrote the following in his post titled ‘Obama to Arabs: “what you’ll see is someone who is listening”’ published to his new column/blog at ForeignPolicy.com:

It's impossible to exaggerate the symbolic importance of Barack Obama choosing an Arabic satellite television station for his first formal interview as President -- and of taking that opportunity to talk frankly about a new relationship with the Muslim world based on mutual respect and emphasizing listening rather than dictating. His interview promises a genuinely fresh start in the way the United States interacts with the Arab world and a new dedication to public diplomacy.

In his conversation with the estimable Hisham Milhem (a good choice for an interlocutor), Obama reached out directly to the Arab public via the Saudi TV station al-Arabiya (which shrewdly posted the transcript immediately). It signals the importance of the Middle East to the new President, his commitment to engaging on Arab-Israeli peace, his genuinely fresh thinking and new start with the Muslim world, and his recognition of the importance of genuine public diplomacy.

I admit that I'm a little biased here. How can I not be thrilled that Obama has adopted the policy advice I've been offering since the publication of "Taking Arabs Seriously" in Foreign Affairs back in 2003? And in his first interview anywhere, less than a week into job, no less. I have to admit it feels a bit odd to see an administration doing things right after all these years. But that said, credit should go where credit is due. I do think that this is an extremely significant gambit which signals his commitment to real public diplomacy, his engagement with Middle East issues (repudiating all the pundits expecting him to neglect foreign policy), and his ability to speak in a genuinely new way to the Muslim world.

His remarks hit the sweet spot again and again. He repeatedly emphasized his intention of moving past the iron walls of the 'war on terror' and 'clash of civilizations' which so dominated the Bush era. "My job is to communicate to the Muslim world that the United States is not your enemy," Obama said, emphasizing as in his inaugural address that he is "ready to initiate a new partnership [with the Muslim world] based on mutual respect and mutual interest." And where so much of the Bush administration's 'public diplomacy' was about manipulating and lecturing, Obama begins -- as he should -- with listening: "what I told [Mitchell] is start by listening, because all too often the United States starts by dictating..so let's listen."

He clearly understands that this won't be easy, that there are real conflicts and obstacles and enemies. He obviously recognizes that the Gaza crisis and eight years of the Bush administration have left a heavy toll on America's reputation and credibility. He stressed the importance of engaging on Israeli-Arab issues right away, the need for new ideas and approaches, and the interrelationships among the region's issues that I've always seen as the key to his Middle East policy ("I do think that it is impossible for us to think only in terms of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and not think in terms of what's happening with Syria or Iran or Lebanon or Afghanistan and Pakistan. These things are interrelated.")

And above all, he understands that words are only the beginning, and that ultimately deeds and policy will determine Arab views of the United States. Public diplomacy is not about marketing a lousy policy -- it's about engaging honestly, publicly, and directly with foreign publics about those policies, explaining and listening and adjusting where appropriate. Obama gets it...

End Excerpt. Read more at ForeignPolicy.com:
Barack Obama's interview on Al Arabiya by Marc Lynch, 01/27/09


TIME magazine’s veteran Middle East and Africa correspondent Scott Macleod has two very interesting posts up at The Middle East Blog since the Al Arabiya interview. Here is an excerpt from the latest on Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s reaction to President Obama’s outstretched hand:

Ahmadinejad to Obama: Get Lost!
TIME - The Middle East Blog - Jan 29, 2009

Has Mahmoud Ahmadinejad slapped the outreached palm of President Barack Obama, who offered a cautious hand of cooperation to the Islamic Republic?

In his inauguration speech on Jan. 20, Obama said:

“To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect.”

In his al-Arabiya interview Monday, broadcast throughout the Middle East Tuesday, Obama said:

“I do think that it is important for us to be willing to talk to Iran, to express very clearly where our differences are, but where there are potential avenues for progress. And we will over the next several months be laying out our general framework and approach. And as I said during my inauguration speech, if countries like Iran are willing to unclench their fist, they will find an extended hand from us.”

In a speech in Kermanshah on Wednesday, Iranian President Ahmadinejad gave Obama his reply:

“We welcome change provided the change is fundamental and in the right direction. If you talk of change in policies, withdraw your forces from Afghanistan. If you say change in policies, then halt your support to the uncultivated and rootless, forged, phony, killers of women and children Zionists and allow the Palestinian nation to determine its own destiny.”

Ahmadinejad went on to demand that Americans "apologize” to Iranians and compensate them for the “murderous crimes” the U.S. has committed against Iran. He specifically referred to the CIA-backed overthrow of Iranian Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh in 1953, U.S. support of Saddam Hussein during the Iran-Iraq war between 1980-1988 and the downing of an Iranian civilian plane and killing of 290 passengers by a U.S. warship in 1988.

Ahmadinejad's aggressive tone was markedly different from the friendly letter of congratulations that Ahmadinejad sent immediately after Obama's election Nov. 4:

“I would like to offer my congratulations on your election by the majority of the American electorate. I hope you will be able to take fullest advantage of the opportunity to serve and leave behind a positive legacy by putting the real interest of people as well as equity and justice ahead and above the insatiable demands of a selfish and unworthy minority.”

What's going on with Ahmadinejad? Three things.
Read more at TIME.com – The Middle East Blog


Factoid: President Obama’s debut was not the first time a US president or high-ranking US government official was interviewed by Al Arabiya News, so don’t get too excited back home. I believe that former US President George W. Bush appeared several times on the Al Arabiya network, and so did other key members of his administration over the past 8 years.

The Al Arabiya Washington Bureau Chief, Hisham Melham, interviewed former US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice on May 7, 2007 and this was just one of several appearances by Condoleeza Rice on the news channel. Whether the interview was broadcast/cablecast to US audiences is another thing altogether. Here is a link to the full transcript of the Condoleeza Rice interview: ‘US Secretary of State Rice Interview with Hisham Melham of Al Arabiya. It would be interesting to compare what Dr. Rice said vs. the recent interview with President Obama.

Special Note: I was surprised (shocked) to learn from an article I read at the New York Times last month that the Al Jazeera-English news channel is NOT available to American broadcast and cable TV audiences. According to the NY Times article it is because cable TV networks and programming distributors are either afraid or are unwilling to offer the popular Arab TV network’s programming to their customers.

“My fellow Americans,” to not be able to view the leading Arab 24 hour news channel is bordering on an infringement of your rights to free speech and unfettered access to information. After all, the broadcast headquarters of the network is based in the capital city of one of America’s closest allies in the Middle East (Qatar), so where is the problem? Throughout most of Europe, the Middle East, Asia and Africa millions of people can zap between CNN International, BBC World, and Al Jazeera (English) in order to get a better ‘world view’ of international TV news and special in-depth reports and features. I would hope that this situation changes for American TV markets and audiences sometime soon, the sooner the better.

Below is a list of articles and editorials that I think may be helpful to my readers in gaining a better understanding of where US policies for the Middle East may be headed under the leadership of President Obama and his new foreign policy and national security team.


Related articles, op-eds and resources

Al Arabiya News Network – English version (Dubai)
Obama reaches Arabs, Muslims via Al Arabiya
Note: article describes how the Arab satellite news network landed the interview and its impact upon Al Aribiya’s international viewing audience
Obama tells Al Arabiya peace talks should resume
Note: article includes a link to the full text transcript of the interview

TIME.com
The Middle East Blog - Ahmadinejad to Obama: Get Lost!
The Middle East Blog - Aaron David Miller: A Reality Check
Mitchell is Ready to Listen, But is Israel?
Obama Mideast Watch: The Al-Arabiya Interview by Scott Macleod
How Al-Arabiya Got the Obama Interview by Scott Macleod
Tearing Down The Walls by Scott Macleod
Note: a good backgrounder about the emergence of independent news media in the Arab world with a focus on the Arab news network al-Jazeera (see Aljazeera.com)

The New York Times
Obama Tells Arab World U.S. Will ‘Start by Listening’ - The Lede Blog
On Arab TV Network, Obama Urges Dialogue
Few in U.S. See Jazeera’s Coverage of Gaza War - NYTimes.com
Al Jazeera News - The New York Times Topics

Beet.TV – The root to the media revolution
Al Jazeera Finds Growing Audience for Online Video Clips with Conflict in Gaza, AP Reports

CNN International
'Americans are not your enemy,' Obama tells Muslims - CNN.com
Dateline Davos: Obama’s World with host Christiane Amanpour
Note: guests include Raila Odinga (Kenyan Prime Minister), Bernard Kouchner (French Foreign Minister), Hoshyar Zebari (Iraqi Foreign Minister), Mohammed Elbaradei (IEAE Director-General), Manouchehr Mottaki (Iranian Foreign Minister), Abdul Rahim Wardak (Afghanistan Defense Minister)
Inside the Middle East with Hala Gorani - “The Middle East Challenge”

Washington Post/Newsweek - PostGlobal: A Conversation about Global Issues with David Ignatius and Fareed Zakaria
Articles by Hisham Melham at PostGlobal

Spiegel Online International (English website of Germany’s Der Spiegel magazine)
The World from Berlin: Obama's Open Hand to Muslims
Note: above article includes a roundup of how the German press responded to the US president’s interview on Al Arabiya

Foreign Policy Magazine and FP Passport blog
Obama to Arabs: “what you’ll see is someone who is listening”
Barack Obama's interview on Al Arabiya by Marc Lynch
Note: Mark Lynch is an associate professor of political science at George Washington University and author of the popular Abu Aardvark blog
Obama's al-Arabiya interview by Joshua Keating
Note: above post at FP Passport features the Al Arabiya interview video on YouTube
Morning Brief: Obama begins Middle East outreach FP Passport
Barack Obama's secret dinner with Samantha Power, Lee Hamilton, and Indra Nooyi by Laura Rozen

The Council on Foreign Relations
Mitchell's Prospects for Lasting Israeli-Palestinian Accord 'Slim to None' by Bernard Gwertzman - Interview with former top US Middle East negotiator Aaron David Miller
From CFR and Saban Center at Brookings - A Mideast Policy for the Obama Administration, 12/02/08
Crisis Guide: The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict (an extensive background guide)
Foreign Affairs magazine - Taking Arabs Seriously by Marc Lynch (Sep/Oct 2003)

The Heritage Foundation
Al-Hurrah Television and Lessons for U.S. Public Diplomacy by Helle C. Dale, 11/18/05

The Daily Kos
Reaction to Obama’s al-Aribiya Interview by John Campanelli

Real Clear Politics
Dancing Among Landmines--The Obama Al-Arabiya Interview by Victor Davis Hanson

Global Voices Online
MENA: Reflections on Obama’s Al Arabiya Interview by Lasto Adri
Note: an excellent roundup of opinions about the Al Aribiya interview from bloggers in the Middle East and North Africa and the USA

Kabobfest (a popular blog on Middle East affairs authored by an Arab-American)
President Obama's first formal interview - with Al Arabiya?

The Palestine Center (an independent Washington DC-based think tank)
Al-Arabiya: President Obama Interview & Highlights
From Gaza to Obama: What Next for the Middle East? by Ali Abunimah
Al-Jazeera interview with leading Arab-American scholars and activists on the eve of the US Presidential Inauguration, 01/16/09
The Palestine Center official blog

Aljazeera-English @ YouTube
Arab Americans Look to Obama, 01/15/09Note: the above video features former CNN International anchor Shihab Rattansi speaking with Dr. James J. Zogby (Arab American Institute), Maya M. Berry (The MidAmr Group), and Amjad Attallah (New America Foundation)

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