Professor Rashid Khalidi, who unintentionally came into the national limelight during the final week of the campaign when the John McCain camp labeled him a "terrorist," and then proceeded to tie him to Dem. Sen. Barack Obama, gave a speech in 2002 at the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee's 19th national convention in Virginia where he told the audience that "the first thing Arabs should do is stop whining. "We are very good at whining," said Khalidi.
Khalidi's advice came to mind this week when Arabs began to whine once again over the appointment by President-elect Barack Obama of Rahm Emanuel as his chief of staff.
Want something to really change in the way the White House deals with the Arab world? Then work for it. Earn the respect of the rest of the world. Instead of complaining (and whining), show through your actions that you are serious about attaining a peaceful resolution of the conflict. Demonstrate unequivocally that you oppose terrorism whenever it happens and wherever it happens. No excuses, period.
Show the new administration that you are serious about conducting a dialogue of peace with Israel, without reservation; show that you are serious about human rights and democratic reforms.
That means no more jailing political opponents, no more assassinating or jailing your critics, no more supporting armed militias in neighboring countries, no more interfering in the political affairs of your next door neighbor, no more rigging elections.
Stop insulting the intelligence of your own people by declaring yourselves uncontested victors with 99 percent of the vote.
Stop making excuses as to why you still need to rule through emergency decrees. Get world public opinion on your side through concrete acts. And then see how the balance of support begins to shift.
But all the above requires changes, steps toward having the people participate in the process. And a good number of Arab rulers are as terrified of change as they are of Osama bin Laden's terror network.
See what happened in the United States when the people decided they had had enough of President George W. Bush: they voted his party out of office.
Despite the security laws, despite the wire tapping and despite the spying on its own citizens in the name of the greater good of the republic, despite Bush's neoconservative cabal led by Dick Cheney, the most powerful vice president in the history of the United States, when the people took to the ballots on Nov. 4, the result was an unstoppable human tsunami which brought about change to America, and in so doing, to the world.
The choice is up to the citizens of the Arab world: they can go on whining or begin to demand change from their leadership.
Less than 10 years ago Eastern Europe was under the boot of the Soviet Union. Look where they are now. Ten years ago much of the Arab world was where it is today. Stop whining, start demanding change.
To use a slogan that worked so well in the United States, "Yes we can." "Yes YOU can."