Arabs and Muslims have no excuse for America’s pro-Israeli stance
By Ray Hanania — Both of the presidential candidates and the vice presidential candidates in each of their first round of debates emphasized their commitment to “change.” But when it comes to America’s blind support for Israel and failure to stand up for human rights and justice for Palestinians, there is no change. And it again makes this presidential election between Barack Obama and John McCain another difficult and unsatisfying choice for Arab and Muslims Americans. Not all of the blame falls on the shoulders of the candidates or on the American people who dissect to minutia heady issues like the nation’s economy and alleged threats from Iran and North Korea but seem to be missing in action and intelligence when it comes to understanding the fundamentals of the Arab-Israeli conflict.
Most of the blame really falls on the shoulders of the Arab and Muslim community itself, a blame that the community’s leadership dodges and refuses to discuss because it exposes the shallowness and ineffectiveness of the Arab and Muslim organizations in America.
The fact is that for all of the Arab and Muslim American bluster, rhetoric, protests, ego-feeding conferences and narrow-focused writing, Arab and Muslim Americans have failed when it comes to the most important skill required in championing human rights and justice. Communications.
Arabs and Muslims don’t know how to communicate.
Oh, they know how to talk but never when to shut-up. But talking is not always communicating.
They can speak English, many very well but often with those annoying, affected British accents and accents of the elitist aristocracy that evolved out of the brutality of the Ottoman Empire.
But they can’t speak “American.”
They understand the fundamentals of the rights of the Palestinians but they lack a fundamental understanding of how to separate those issues from their emotion-driven activism.
We know the truth but resist the reality that perception is often more important than the truth and how you communicate issues is more important than the issues themselves.
In America, the acceptable and popular perception is more important than the complex and hard to understand truths.
But one truth is easy to recognize about the Arab and Muslim American community. Arab and Muslim Americans pretend that they are effective because we hate to admit that we have failed.
Pride is more important than justice and we never acknowledge that failure of our efforts to convey the truth the Americans and we especially refuse to ever acknowledge the failure of the leadership in our community. Instead of addressing the lack of leadership by our so-called community leaders, we defend that failure as if it were our most precious possession.
We never admit fault. We never admit mistakes. We never admit that impotency and the emptiness of our so-called leaders has been a major contribution to the inability to return the Palestinians to their homes.
Israel’s brutal and vicious policies have made it easy for Arabs and Muslims to blame everything on Israel and never feel compelled to recognize their own real failures, failures that have taken Israel’s achievements in this conflict and turned them into generations of oppression that continue to expand not regress.
Arabs and Muslims as a culture have never learned how to hold their own leaders accountable.
I’m not saying they don’t criticize our leaders. They do. But only the leaders they disagree with. We never as a community criticize, question or challenge the leaders we support. And that failure to challenge our leadership is the single-most important reason for our failure.
Criticism is what makes public officials and leaders accountable. And we have no accountability in the Arab and Muslim American leadership, just as we have absolutely no accountability in the leadership of the Arab World.
We have the pomp and ceremony of our traditions and culture, but lack the substance of achievement, creativity, ingenuity and strategy.
But most of all, Arabs and Muslims do not understand professional communications and how in address failure they can overcome defeat.
When individuals stand up and criticize, they are attacked by the community, which prefers to beautiful lies to the ugly truth.
We would rather live in continued occupation and suffering than to admit that we have failed not in our principles but in our ability to apply those principles.
We have failed to recognize that more important than our own individual feelings and emotion is the need to properly and strategically educate the American people who believe, naively, that they are educated on the issues of the Middle East, when they are not.
But Americans easily see the failures of our Arab and Muslim societies that Arabs and Muslims refuse to recognize and it engenders a distrust that plagues every attempt to convince them otherwise that the Palestinians have rights and that Israel is the aggressor.
You can’t that to an Arab or a Muslim.
It will make them angry. Emotional and motivate them to spend all their energies denouncing you, far more effort than they will ever put into helping Americans understand the Middle East conflict the right way.
(Ray Hanania is an award winning columnist and morning radio talk show host in Chicago. He can be reached at
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"I write about three topics, the Middle East, politics and life in general. I often take my life experiences and offer them in an entertaining way to readers, and I take on the toughest topics like the Israel-Palestine conflict and don't pull any punches about what I feel is fair. But, my priority is always about writing the good story."
Hanania covered Chicago Politics and Chicago City Hall from 1976 through 1992. Hanania began writing in 1975 when he published The Middle Eastern Voice newspaper in Chicago (1975-1977). He later published “The National Arab American Times” newspaper which was distributed through 12,500 Middle East food stores in 48 American States (2004-2007).
Hanania writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues for the Arab News in Saudi Arabia at www.ArabNews.com, and at www.TheArabDailyNews.com, www.TheDailyHookah.com and at SuburbanChicagoland.com. He has also published weekly columns in the Jerusalem Post newspaper, YNetNews.com, Newsday Newspaper in New York, the Orlando Sentinel Newspapers, and the Arlington Heights Daily Herald.
Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem.
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, Hanania 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. He was honored for his writing skills with two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild. In 1990, Hanania was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times editors for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.
His writings have also been honored by two national Awards from ADC for his writing, and from the National Arab American Journalists Association.
The managing editor of Suburban Chicagoland Online News website www.SuburbanChicagoland.com, Hanania's columns also appear in the Southwest News Newspaper Group of 8 newspapers.
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