Putting focus on Palestinian rights not on President Trump
President Donald Trump is just a decoy for Arabs and Muslims put there by the people who are hurting us the most, his enemies. You may not like everything that Trump does or says but the people who are attacking him have a history of abusing and discriminating against Arab, Muslim and Palestinian rights that is far worse.
By Ray Hanania
(Published in the Arab News on Thursday Sept. 6, 2017.) It’s easy to hate on President Donald Trump. He’s not a politician so he doesn’t disguise his rhetoric, the way professional politicians do.
Trump says what he believes, which is both refreshing and sometimes shocking, especially when it is twisted and distorted by politicians and a media that hate him.
In many cases, when you look at what Trump actually said, you realize the media is distorting his words. The media does that to others that they hate, like Arabs, Muslims and Palestinians. Why wouldn’t we believe the media is doing it to Trump?
As a consequence, Muslims and Arabs have been dragged into a contentious political debate in America over Trump. The focus of Arab activists is on Trump, but that’s not where it should be.
The real threat to Arabs, Muslims and Palestinians isn’t Trump. The real threat is from those people who are attacking Trump, and using Trump as an appeal to get us on their side, like Senators Charles Schumer and John McCain.
While Schumer and McCain have been screaming about how much they love “Muslims,” they’re quietly working behind-the-scenes with the pro-Israel activists to target one group of Muslims, “Arab Muslims,” with a barrage of repressive legislation.
Recently, Schumer introduced legislation to block funding for Palestinian institutions he asserts support “extremism” and “anti-Semitism.”
Understand how Schumer defines “extremism:” Schumer claims “criticism of Israel” is a “reinvented form of anti-Semitism.”
For example, the Friends School in Ramallah receives about $1 million a year from USAID (US Agency for International Development) to help its students understand Palestinian culture and rights. It host a summer camp called “Go Palestine.”
The Israelis don’t like the Friends School, hosted by the Quakers, because its programs include critics and criticism of Israel.
Schumer, and others, are demanding that USAID suspend funding to the Ramallah Friends School and other programs that “criticize” Israel.
Israel organizes summer camps for young people funded by numerous US government program where speakers constantly criticize Palestinians. Criticism of Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims, is acceptable. Criticism of Israel is not.
But that’s not the only thing Schumer and his cohorts have been involved with that have received far less media coverage than their criticism of Trump.
Schumer sponsored another bill supported by 43 of his Senate colleagues that makes it a Federal Crime to “boycott” Israel.
A “Federal crime?”
What Schumer is arguing is that “boycotting” Israel is the same as committing an act of violent terrorism, or taking the lives of innocent American citizens.
If Arabs would take a minute from screaming about Trump and open their eyes and ears to the world around them, they might find that the real threat to their existence isn’t Trump. It’s Schumer and his cronies in the Democratic Party, in the anti-Trump Republican Party, and in the mainstream American news media.
The anti-Trump movement is using Trump to distract Arabs. The anti=Trump movement may hate Trump, but believe me, they hate Arabs more.
When you closely examine the rhetoric, you see that American politicians like Schumer separate “Muslims” into two groups, non-Arab and Arab. Schumer and his cronies don’t hate all Muslims. They only hate Arab Muslims, and that means they hate Palestinians and Arab Christians, too.
Unlike the Arabs, the Israelis are smart. They see both bad and good in President Trump. They don’t like everything Trump says or does, but instead of focusing on the bad, they focus on the good and build from there.
That’s how Israelis always get what they want.
Arabs, on the other hand, ignore what they like and react to what they don’t like. That’s the emotional thing to do. And it makes it easy for the pro-Israel lobby to undermine our efforts.
When will Arabs wake up?
Trump’s enemies are not our friends. Why do we believe what the mainstream news media says about Trump, but argue that the mainstream news media lies in its coverage of Palestine?
Trump is a distraction from the fight for Arab and Palestinian rights.
Arab activists need to refocus their activism. Trump isn’t the priority. He’s a distraction. His rhetoric is being twisted to make it worse than it is. Trump is no different than other politicians who pander to the pro-Israel lobby. But Trump is different in that his words have shown sympathy for Palestinian rights.
There are things Trump says and does that we don’t like. Don’t think that the Israelis are not concerned about Trump. They are. But the Israelis are smarter in reacting to Trump. Arabs and Palestinians need to do the same.
The real threat to Palestinian rights isn’t coming from Trump. It’s coming from the people who are attacking Trump, like Schumer and McCain. But they are smart enough to dilute their words, “dress-up” their rhetoric, and make themselves sound reasoned, when they are not.
Instead of fighting the real battle against Schumer and McCain, our conferences, speeches, articles, and activism have all honed in on Trump.
It’s the ultimate pro-Israel hasbara!
Keep your eye on the prize, not on the intentional distraction.
By yelling at Trump, we’re missing the real fight.
(Ray Hanania is an award winning Palestinian columnist and author. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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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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