Some of the myths that drive Arab discourse about American behavior in the Middle East are fascinating for what they say about our relationship with the region. Though often profoundly wrong, they are nevertheless frustratingly persistent.
We fail to recognize the damage that has been done to "brand America." While many Americans still want to see ourselves as "the shining city on the hill," we simply do not understand that is not how most Arabs see us.
It might be lucky for Obama that the Arab uprisings coincide with his second battle for the presidency -- if he makes good use of this opportunity. This requires blending aspirations and realities wisely, and with moral courage.
Though Abbas' responsible assistance in battling the raging fire in Carmel last week was met with a thankful call from Netanyahu, the leaders cannot move one step forward to discuss the Palestinian-Israeli peace process.