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Arabs Cooling On Obama?

Interesting new Reuters story out of Cairo:

U.S. President-elect Barack Obama, with his silence on Israel's attacks in Gaza, has confirmed Arab expectations that foreign policy changes will come small and slow when he moves into the White House next month.

On the fourth day of Israeli air strikes which have killed more than 380 people in Gaza, the U.S. President-elect has yet to take a position, though he spoke out after militants' attacks in Mumbai and has made detailed statements on the U.S. economy....

"Obama's position is very precarious. The Jewish lobby warned against his election, so he has chosen to remain silent (on Gaza)," added Hilal Khashan, a professor of political science at the American University of Beirut....

The Arab world was largely enthusiastic about Obama's election victory in November, in the belief that a fresh face in the White House must be better than outgoing President George W. Bush, who invaded Iraq and gave strong support to Israel.

But his choice of a foreign policy team, especially Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State and Rahm Emanuel as chief of staff, have raised doubts that much will change.

Mustapha el-Sayed of Cairo University said: "I am really pessimistic ... because when I see the kind of people who surround President-elect Obama I find they are the best friends of Israel who do not dare to distance themselves from the positions of the Israeli government."

We're an awfully long way from the mid- '08 talk that Obama would lose Florida on account of Jewish skepticism, that's for sure. 

--Michael Crowley