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Facts mean nothing in anti-Semitism backlash, even in Canada
By Ray Hanania — The inaccurate facts often become incidental to the controversies … when it comes to Palestinian-Israeli relations
Linda Sobeh Ali was the charge d’affaires of the Palestinian delegation in Ottawa, Canada until she passed along a link to a You Tube video showing a Palestinian girl chanting anti-Israel propaganda. She was forced to stepped down.
The irony here is staggering. The video is on You Tube, which has become a bigger symbol of Western freedom than any other Internet media, and was conveyed not as an endorsement but as a referral on Twitter. Twitter is a means of conveying, not the substance of the politics.
But aside from the fact that what Ms. Sobeh Ali tweeted is in the public domain, it is the manner in which anything critical of Israel is transformed so easily from political criticism of Zionism and a foreign country into an anti-Semitic attack against “Jews.”
When it comes to the Arab-Israeli battle in the West, the facts of a case no longer matter once the anti-Semitism steamroller begins to move. Anything in its path is bludgeoned and destroyed. The accusation that Sobeh Ali passed along the URL (link) of an allegedly anti-Semitic video posting using Twitter has overshadowed the issue of whether it was in fact anti-Semitic or just anti-Israel.
In other words, whether it is or isn’t anti-Semitic has become irrelevant by virtue of the kneejerk response that anything considered critical of Israel is anti-Semitic.
There is a debate about the content of the video, but that no longer matters. Sobeh Ali has been tarred and feathered by the pro-Israel lobbies, many of which are more racist, anti-Muslim and anti-Arab than Sobeh Ali’s Tweet could ever have been described as anti-Semitic.
But racism against Arabs and Muslims is not considered important to the people who quickly judge and then destroy because the issue isn’t about the anti-Semitism but rather the effort to libel a pro-Arab, especially pro-Palestinian representative.
It was the same thing with Helen Thomas. Thomas spend more than a half century building an impeccable reputation as one of the most famous and successful female journalists covering the White House and American politics. She never had any history of anti-Semitism, although she was constantly asking presidents to comment on the hypocrisy of issues involving Israel and the Middle East.
Her most powerful point was that everyone cares about nuclear weapons held by Arabs but no one wants to talk about the huge nuclear arsenal that Israel maintains without any international inspections or safeguards.
And the Israelis and their allies in the U.S. Congress like it like that.
So one day, Thomas says something critical of Israel to a pro-Israel activists and it is turned around from a criticism of a foreign government and country, Israel, and a political movement, Zionism. And her entire career is brought down in an instant.
You can criticize any other foreign country or government and any other political movement but you can’t criticize Israel or Zionism without paying the price.
Like Thomas, Sobeh Ali apologized for her actions. But it made no difference.
There is something to be said about how easily Arabs make themselves targets of the anti-Semitism assault. They use little tact and are self-made sitting ducks.
Thomas made some stupid comments that could have been better articulated, but she didn’t think. Was it because of arrogance or accident?
And Sobeh Ali re-tweeted something that was put together not by professionals but by the emotional stream of Arab World anger in which words are used loosely, and that easily blur the lines between legitimate criticism of Israel and the Zionist political movement and the ugly scar of anti-Semitism. As a professional representative of Palestine, why would retweet it without even watching it, as she claimed?
I know Sobeh Ali and she always struck me as a moderate voice in an American Arab and Muslim sea of anger. She is not anti-Semitic, but she has been wounded by the accusation, forced out of her position representing Palestine in Canada, a nation notorious for its anti-Arab and anti-Muslim attitudes.
You would have thought that knowing that she was in a viciously hostile anti-Arab and anti-Muslim political environment, she would have been more careful and more aware of potential missteps and political landmines that could have been and should have been avoided.
Many Arabs and Muslims act out of anger rather than strategic communications or politics. Emotions not strategic communications have defined the Arab and Palestinian cause. They shoot from the hip like they are Annie Oakley and most don’t even know who Annie Oakley was in terms of American history.
They speak without thinking, act without defined purpose and convey their messages in blurred perceptions that are easily twisted and distorted and exaggerated to mean things other than what they had intended.
The arrogance of Arab and Muslim power, often undemocratic, is more often the result of their own undoing. They will rightly and correctly blame their demise on those who twist and distort the facts, but in reality their own failure to adhere to strategic public conduct and mastering communications is the cause of their undoing.
(Ray Hanania is an award winning Palestinian columnist. He can be reached at www.TheMediaOasis.com.)
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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 www.ArabNews.com. 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 TheArabDailyNews.com and NewsAmericaNetwork.com (Illinois News Network at IllinoisNewsNetwork.com).
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, YNetNews.com, 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.
His Facebook Page is Facebook.com/rghanania
Email him at: RGHanania@gmail.com