I wish I could remember where I first read this critique of State Department personnel decisions regarding the Middle East. In past administrations, you could find many Jews dealing with Israeli-Arab affairs: Aaron David Miller, Dennis Ross, Martin Indyk, Richard Haas, Dan Kurtzer, Sam Lewis, etc. But I dare you to name a single Arab-American or Palestinian-American assigned to the same field. Where are the Khalidis, Telhamis, Zogbys? Why are we so gun-shy about having an authentic Arab voice inside the policy apparatus that devises strategy concerning the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? If there are Jews at the table why shouldn’t there be Arabs?
And just why is it that doing so would be considered so dangerous, so radical? Why is it that Rashid Khalidi’s association with Obama was portrayed as if the future president consorted with a terrorist? Have we so criminalized Arab-Americans in the American mind that they are forever etched there as dangerous jihadists?
With Hillary taking over at State the chances of opening up the diplomatic corps have narrowed considerably. But someone will have to explain to me why Palestinians or Arab states in general should trust America as a honest broker if we can’t even include in our midst Arab-Americans as members of the foreign policy team?