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Obama's silence over Israeli strikes on Gaza angers Arabs

Arabs, mainly immigrants from Palestine, are expressing their frustration and anger over Barack Obama's silence over Israeli strikes on Gaza Strip and asserting that this shows that there would be little change in the pro-Tel Aviv policies of the US.

world Updated: Dec 31, 2008 10:14 IST

Arabs, mainly immigrants from Palestine, are expressing their frustration and anger over President-elect Barack Obama's silence over Israeli strikes on Gaza Strip and asserting that this shows that there would be little change in the pro-Tel Aviv policies of the US.

In television interviews, they did not buy Obama's argument that there is only one president at a time, pointing out that he had been speaking about what he would do about economy and on terrorist attacks on Mumbai.

But analysts say that the comparison with Mumbai attacks is not correct as currently diplomatic efforts are being made to pacify the situation and bring about a ceasefire. Obama's intervention, they say, would not be correct. Mumbai was different as it was attacked by terrorists, they point out.

Obama's victory in the presidential elections was hailed in the Arab world but several protesters said the perception might change now.

Hundreds of Arab shouting anti-Israeli slogans and pro-Israeli protesters faced off each other in counter demonstrations yesterday outside the Israeli Consulate here over Tel Aviv's air strikes on Gaza and, what the Arabs called, its attempts to starve Gaza.

Police put up barricades to keep them apart as Arabs protesters called for freeing Palestine and at least one banner read "The Real Terrorists are US-Israeli War Machine." A smaller group on the other side of the street defended the bombing of the Hamas-ruled Gaza, arguing that every country has the right to defend itself.

Meanwhile, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg met Israeli Consul General Asaf Shariv and expressed his support for the Israeli action, further angering the Arabs.

For a dramatic effect, Shariv displayed an exploded rocket which he said had killed a woman out for walk and later Bloomberg voiced his support.