The extremist threat to Israel is a threat to Palestinians, too

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The extremist threat to Israel is a threat to Palestinians, too
By Ray Hanania — If you can set aside the emotions and anger that saturates every discussion about the Middle East conflict, you might be able to get to the heart of the problem.

The conflict isn’t about Palestinians versus Israelis. The real conflict is about extremists versus moderates. The moderates are those who are willing to compromise and accept each others’ existence. The extremists on both sides believe if they can just hold out long enough, they will win everything. So, the extremists reject any form of compromise believing they will get everything through violence and time.

The Arabs have a greater share of the fanatics, for a lot of reasons.

First, there is no Democracy in the Middle East. What Democracy exists in the Arab World does so only as a result of recent events and it hasn’t ripened yet. Democracy is still in its infancy.

And that has meant that Arabs who seek to express their views face serious repercussions, and worse, jail or even death.

Instead of Democracy, the Arab World is polluted with autocracy, tyranny and dictatorships. And the dictators, with or without the phony crowns, just love the fact that Israel was created in 1948 so they can use that as a distraction from their own criminal behavior. The Arab dictators let you protest, hate and attack Israel because it keeps the Arab public focused away from their own government tyranny and abuses.

In fact, one might argue that the Arab World is “occupied” by the tyrants in a far worse way than Israel has occupied the Palestinian territories. That’s not to say the Israeli occupation is good or legitimate in anyway. The Israeli occupation is an obstacle to real peace, but so are the practices and the policies of the Arab tyrants.

Second, the Arabs are denied the ability to express themselves and that breed intolerance. Intolerance is the fuel that feeds fanaticism. The extremists, religious and secular, both use the system to strengthen their ranks. They are much like the dictators. They want you to hate Israel so you don’t focus on their own dictatorial practices, including things like discriminating against minorities and Christians in the Islamic World.

In each case involving the dictatorships or the extremists, the goal is not justice. It is about preserving and protecting their power base. The dictators and the extremists are not doing the Palestinians any favors by their boisterous rhetoric and their violence. Their goal is to prolong the conflict and keep it going so that the public will be distracted and won’t see the crimes of the dictators and the extremists.

And by feeding the hatred against Israel, they undermine peace and in the end, stand in the way of a Palestinian State.

A moderate Israeli government could use this to push for peace as the late Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin did in 1993, although an Israeli fanatic assassinated him in 1995.

And an extremist Israeli government, like the one headed by Israeli Prime Minister Bejamin Netanyahu, can use this Arab World extremism and the Arab dictators as an excuse to be even more extremist themselves. Netanyahu is constantly citing the fanatics as an excuse to justify his outrageous abuse of Arab civil rights. He’s no angel either.

But, if the fanatics and the extremists and the dictators could be removed, the Palestinians would have a stronger chance of establishing their state and restoring rights to Palestinians in the Shatat (diaspora) who lost homes and lands when Israel was created.

The extremist threat to Israel is a threat to the Palestinians. But in the environment of conflict and emotion fueled by the dictators and the fanatics, it is a reality that is hard to see.

(Ray Hanania is an award winning columnist. He can be reached 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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