It’s not that Israel controls Washington D.C., it’s that the Arabs don’t

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It’s not that Israel controls Washington D.C., it’s that the Arabs don’t
By Ray Hanania —  Now that Arabs exhausted their anger over Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s soliloquy to loving admirers in the U.S. Congress, maybe it’s time for Palestinians to shoulder some of the blame.

In spite of all that Israel has done, the Palestinians are no better. They are their own worst enemies, worsened by the fact that they wallow in the past. Palestinians still believe that the answer to their problems rests in forcing Israel to abide by UN Resolution 242, but miss the reality that the real battle must be fought in the mindset of the American public.

America controls the Middle East conflict and the Israelis know that, which is why they know that even though the majority of nations in the world oppose their policies and support the Palestinians, the only nation that counts is America.

Arabs don’t understand that they can change things by altering American public perceptions of the Middle East conflict. Israel spends millions on public relations in the United States. The Arabs, who have far more wealth than Israel, spends nothing.

They have no grasp of the factors that can bring about change in the attitudes of the American public, so they blame the news media as being controlled by “the Jews,” or, they claim Israel’s lobby “controls” Washington D.C.

Jews don’t control the media; pro-Israeli activists are better at influencing the media than Arabs. The joint session of Congress that cheered Netanyahu’s speech with applause and standing ovations 69 times didn’t do so because the Israeli lobby gives them millions in campaign contributions. If that were the case, the Arabs could make far more donations. Congress knows that the Israelis know how to swing American public opinion and the Arabs don’t. The American public doesn’t understand the Palestinian perspective and understands the Israeli perspective clearly.

Palestinians don’t have a lobby in America. They barely have a voice in the dozens of American Arab organizations that fail because few practice Democracy, they don’t elect their leadership, have small constituencies and most are led by presidents-for-life. The American Arab political model is a duplicate of the Arab World dictatorships.

How can American Arabs appeal to the American public’s Democratic values when they don’t even know how to be Democratic themselves?

American Arabs can’t compete with Israel in America, the one place where the deck is really stacked in their favor.

Their failure to understand fundamentals of American politics, which is defined by professional public relations, strategic communications and the management of the American public’s perceptions, explains why they can’t take advantage when the advantage is on their side.

Here are two obvious examples:

It is a foundation of American foreign policy to oppose Israeli settlements. Yet even with that, the Arabs can’t get the United States to support a condemnation of Israel settlement expansion in the United Nations. When the resolution comes up, America is the first to always veto it.

Whose fault is that, Israel’s or the Arabs?

President Barack Obama is more pro-Palestinian than any other president and yet Obama has never once addressed a major American Arab organization but has addressed numerous American Jewish and pro-Israel groups including AIPAC.

Why wouldn’t Obama appear before AIPAC and ignore American Arabs? AIPAC attracted more than 20,000 attendees. That was immediately followed by an army of more than 2,000 activists who lobbied the American Congress in more than 500 meetings.

American Arabs can barely get 500 people to attend a dinner honoring the few members of Congress who support their cause.

The truth is the Palestine cause is losing in a large part because the Arab World doesn’t recognize the strategic importance of tapping the huge American Arab population in America. But worse, that Arab constituency has no effective organization or leadership.

Arabs are great at giving speeches. Their many conferences are mediocre on substance and feature recycled speakers who angrily repeat the same old slogans the same way Arab dictators rail at Israel as a distraction for their own failed leaderships. The angry hyperbolic rhetoric may distract Arabs from the failures of the leaders in the US and in the Middle East, but anger fails to galvanize strategic goals to achieve change.

American Arabs have no professional public relations, no real strategic plan to change how American’s think and they can’t seem to rally their own community together. How can they be expected to rally the American public in their favor?

If the American public supports Israel, the pro-Arab American president speaks only to the Israelis and if the Congress acts more like cheerleaders for Israel it’s not because the Israelis control anything. It’s because the Arabs in America have failed and control nothing.

(Ray Hanania is an award winning columnist and media consultant. He can be reached at To reprint, contact Creators Syndicate at


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Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania is an award winning former Chicago City Hall reporter and Columnist who began writing in 1975 when he published The Middle Eastern Voice newspaper in Chicago (1975-1977). He covered Chicago City Hall from 1976 through 1992 (Mayor Daley to Mayor Daley) and has expanded to writing for newspapers around the world focussed on Middle East and American politics.

Hanania loves to write about American Arabs in politics, and focuses on Arab life in America.

Currently, he writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues for the Arab News in Saudi Arabia at He writes on American politics for the Des Plaines Valley News, Southwest News-Herald, The Regional News newspaper and the Reporter Newspapers. He also writes for the online websites and (Illinois News Network at

Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem. Hanania began in journalism as an activist publishing Chicago’s first English-language American Arab Newspaper “The Middle Eastern Voice” from 1975 through 1977. In 1976, he was hired by the Chicago community newspaper The Southtown Economist (Daily Southtown) and in 1985 was hired by the Chicago Sun-Times and covered Chicago City Hall for both. In 1993, he launched the “The Villager” Newspapers which covered 12 Southwest Chicagoland suburban regions. In 2004, he published “The National Arab American Times” monthly newspaper which was distributed through 12,500 Middle East ethnic food stores in 48 American States.

Hanania is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, he was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media;In 2009, he received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. He is the recipient of the MT Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award. Hanania has also received two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild, and in 1990 was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.

Hanania’s writings have been published in newspapers around the world. Formerly syndicated by Creators Syndicate, Hanania also has written news, features and Opinion Columns for Al Jazeera English, the Jerusalem Post,, Arab News, Saudi Gazette, Newsday in New York, the Orlando Sentinel, the Houston Chronicle, The Daily Star, the News of the World, the Daily Yomimuri in Tokyo, Chicago Magazine, the Arlington Heights Daily Herald, and Aramco Magazine. His political columns are published in the Southwest News-Herald and Des Plaines Valley News, Regional News and Palos Reporter newspapers in Chicagoland. Hanania is the President/CEO of Urban Strategies Group media and public affairs consulting which has clients in Illinois, Florida, Michigan and Washington D.C.

Hanania is Palestinian Christian from prominent Bethlehem and Jerusalem families. His wife and son are Jewish and he performs standup comedy lampooning Arab-Jewish relations, advocating for peace based on non-violence, mutual recognition and Two-States.

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