Israel’s propaganda targets Christians
By Ray Hanania
Saudi Gazette, Sunday Jan. 12, 2014
This week, the American Jewish Committee, one of Israel’s strongest advocates in the United States, issued a press release criticizing Muslims for the destruction of Al-Saeh, a Christian library in Tripoli, Lebanon. This raises an interesting issue that I have been harping on for years about the American Arab community. I mean, here is a pro-Israel activist group seemingly standing up to defend the rights of Christian Arabs in the Middle East.
You almost think the AJC’s concern for Christian Arabs is genuine, until you realize that the AJC hasn’t spoken out, for example, against the more frequent attacks by Israeli settlers against Arabs in Palestine. Many of those attacked are Christian.
Obviously, the AJC press release is part of Israeli public relations strategy to counter the obvious reality of Israel’s denial of civil rights to Christians like myself, my family and my relatives who live under Israel’s brutal occupation in Bethlehem and Jerusalem, and who also live under Israel’s discriminatory societal practices in Nazareth.
Yes, Christians are discriminated against in Israel. And wouldn’t it be nice if the AJC were to put out a press release that not only condemned the destruction of a Christian library in Lebanon, but also condemned Israel’s destruction of Christian sites, Christian property and Christian livelihood in Palestine?
What would also be nice would be to see Arabs put their emotions in check and act out of strategic common sense and careful advanced planning. Wouldn’t it be nice if Arabs issued their own press releases so that the world could more clearly see Israel’s destructive policies against Christians and Muslims in Palestine?
Wouldn’t it be nice if Arab organizations and Arab countries set aside some of their billions in oil resources to pay for professional public relations, the fine art of communicating effectively? Wouldn’t this be better than the way Arabs communicate today, using the fine art of anger, emotion, incoherent rhetoric, name-calling and violence?
I thank the AJC for their expression of solidarity with the Christians of Lebanon. There is no doubt that the fanatics in Iran, Hezbollah and the regime of Bashar Al-Assad in Syria have no real regard for the interests of Christians.
But let’s not pretend that the AJC cares about Christian Arabs. It’s all about politics for the AJC and other pro-Israel groups. Their press releases use reality to spin the opinions of the public to strengthen favor for Israel and counter the reality that Israel discriminates not only against Muslim Arabs but also against Christian Arabs, too.
But Arabs make it so easy for Israel to win the PR war. The activism championing the rights of Palestinians used to be a secular activism with religious support. In other words, Muslims and Christians would join together as one and fight for the civil rights of Palestinians.
But in the past two decades that has dramatically shifted and today most of the secular organizations have become marginalized by the Islamic groups that have risen to claim to represent Palestinian rights. These Islamic organizations claim to speak on behalf of all Palestinians, but in reality they are pushing their religious political agenda. Worse, they restrict Christian Palestinian and Arab voices from their conference to those who are obedient to their mandate of superiority over Christians.
Yes, some of these Islamic groups in the United States and the West that claim to champion the rights of Palestinians do invite token Christian activists to speak. But their views have to be narrow and limited, and they are not permitted to challenge the religious fanaticism of some of the members of these groups.
Where does that leave a Christian activist like myself who defines himself as a “Muslim by culture” and who speaks out for Palestinian rights regardless of religious beliefs? Well, I am stuck between the increasingly radical Islamic movement in the Arab world, driven by lunatics in Iran, Hezbollah, Hamas and Syria, and the purely politically motivated agenda embraced by Israel, the AJC and other pro-Israel groups in the West. That’s pretty pathetic.
No wonder Christians are fleeing the Middle East. Once a major partner in the fight for justice, Christians have been marginalized and pushed out by extremist dogma, religious ideology and simply put, pure ignorance of fundamental communications strategy.
What a tough choice Christian Arabs have, to have to chose between the political exploitation of Israel or the uncontrollable extremist emotion of the Arab activists.
The solution is simple. Instead of advocating for a Muslim Palestine, Arab activists should fight for a secular Palestine where everyone is equal. That was once the mantra of the Arab Spring.
Muslims need to open up their organizations and tolerate – yes, a word that Muslim organizations need to embrace more tightly – the views of Christian Arabs even when we disagree. But more importantly, why don’t Arabs just write good press releases and distribute them the way professionals do? Why don’t they apply fundamental professional communications strategies to tell our story to people in the West? Why don’t we invest our resources in a communications method that has proven benefits?
Maybe some of the people claiming they want to free Palestine really don’t want Palestine to be free at all. So how are they any different from Israel?
– Ray Hanania is an award winning columnist. He can be reached at www.TheMediaOasis.com or follow him on Twitter @RayHanania
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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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