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The PEW Research Center released a new poll that shows that a majority of Americans admit they sympathize with Israel and only a small portion support the Palestinians. While it reflects fundamental American racism and an ignorance about the facts of Middle East justice, that can easily be turned around with a simple but effective PR Strategy. But the Arab leadership is too stupid to understand
By Ray Hanania
Israel has a landslide edge over the Palestinians when it comes to every day Americans, according to a new survey released by the PEW Research Center.
The survey shows that 54 percent of Americans sympathize with Israel in the dispute with Palestine, while only 19 percent sympathize with the Palestinians. The survey shows that 13 percent sympathize with neither side and that only 3 percent sympathize with both.
The good news is that support for the Palestinians is up from 14 percent from a survey done in 2014, but that’s still pathetic, especially for people who know that the Palestine-Israel conflict is driven by injustice that allows Israel to discriminate against non-Jews without consequences or accountability in America, the nation that funds it to the tune of $5 billion a year in taxpayer money in addition to billions more in fundraisers and donations.
But as someone who has spent almost his entire life in journalism, media and communications, I could turn those survey results on their head, upside down, and get Americans to understand the fundamentals that Israel’s government is the aggressor and the victims are the Palestinians, a larger percentage of them are Christians like most Americans.
Fanaticism and extremism and even stupidity in the Arab World prevents anyone from using strategic communications to change how Americans view the Middle East conflict. Fanatic Arab and Muslim groups in America bully moderates and reasoned voices into silence while portraying all Arabs and Muslims as extremists, when they are not.
Only a few American Arabs understand and even fewer use public relations strategies to educate Americans about the truth of the Israel-Palestine conflict. Worse is that their failure to apply fundamental communications principles allows extremist Israelis like Israeli Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked to spout racist hate and ignorance on a daily basis.
Shaked just recently declared that she wants to annex the occupied West Bank while preventing its Christian and Muslim population from becoming citizens of Israel. If that is not the fundamental basis of racism than nothing is. Shaked has also argued effectively that “criticism of Israel” is a form of “anti-Semitism,” the bully stick Israelis have used over the years to suppress a serious discussion of Israel’s policies against non-Jewish civilians both in Israel and in the occupied territories.
I could could turn that around. Any effective communications professional could turn that around. All it takes is some money and a strategy. Yet not one of the rich, wealthy Arab Nations are willing to invest in a communications strategy to promote the truth about Palestine to the American people.
Does anyone believe that 54 percent of Americans believe Israel is right because Israel is right? Israel is wrong but 54 percent of Americans have been conditioned through years of powerful and consistent pro-Israel public relations spin into believing what they believe.
And you know, the stupid Arab leaders always make the same stupid excuses: “Israel has a bad cause but great lawyers (advocates). And the Arabs have a great cause but bad lawyers (advocates).”
The truth is, “Israel has a bad cause but great strategic public relations. The the Arabs have a great cause but absolutely no strategic public relations whatsoever. Zilch. Nada. Wella-isshy!”
And yet it takes so little to change that. So little. All it takes is some money, gathering some intelligent people together to brainstorm, and funding a nationwide public relations campaign to reach Americans and educate them with the truth. But, you have to be strategic. You have to understand fundamental Public Relations.
Sadly, the PR industry in the Middle East itself is held hostage by two different camps. One consists of fanatic racist haters who literally hate Israel. And the other consists of a professional business PR industry that is controlled by the brainwashed American professional PR Industry. Who do you think the Arabs hire when they want PR? Arab PR Agencies? Or, Arab PR Agencies controlled and established by American PR Companies with a history of pro-Israel bias that prevents their talents from being used to effectively change the American psyche on Palestine and Israel.
Look at the big names in Middle East PR. They are doing great things selling soap, shoes and covering up the brutality of the governments of the Arab nations where they are based. And yet they are doing NOTHING to correct the false perceptions that cast Palestinians as the bad guys in the conflict with Israel, the good guys.
You can’t have a conversation with Arabs about all this because they are in denial. They would rather than you believe that the failure to educate Americans is really caused by a sinister Israel conspiracy with the news media and politicians.
It’s true that the mainstream American news media is biased and anti-Arab, and they do lie about Palestine and falsely portray Palestinians as the terrorists while covering up for Israle’s war crimes and violence and terrorism of their own. And the U.S. Congress is so heavily influenced by pro-Israel lobbies and high-financed pro-Israel organizations that its members are prohibited from supporting justice, fairness or even compromise.
But that wasn’t always the case. It took years of Israel strategic public relations spin that started long before Israel was even created to set the stage for the biased news media that we have today, or the one-sided American Congress which wrongly condemns Palestinians while ignoring Israeli abuses, oppression and actions that challenge the fundamental human rights that Americans claim as their foundation as a nation.
One Democratic congressman, Jim Moran, told me outright in 1996 when I served as National President of the Palestinian American Congress that although he supports the Palestinians, he gets no real support from the American Arab community. When Moran spoke out against Israeli abuses, he would be inundated with PR spin and targeting from pro-Israel activists while the pro-Palestinian community was silent or barely whimpered.
“They would not support me enough to give me cover,” the former non-Arab Congressman from Virginia told me during an interview.
The pro-Israel community brutalized Moran, while he got basically lip service from the pro-Palestinian community. They rallied around him but they could barely raise money for him. Despite that, he managed to remain in office from 1991 until recently, retiring in 2015. He was one of Washington’s best and fairest congressmen.
I remember as a City Hall reporter for the Chicago Sun-Times insisting on writing a series on the Palestinian intifada in 1990. The Sun-Times fought me and didn’t want to publish the features, but after it became public and a Tribune reporter, James Warren called the Sun-Times to ask about, the Sun-Times published the series. It caused the publisher and senior editors to target me for insisting on wanting to write about Palestinians in a fair and objective manner.
The stories ran for four days in a full page spread each day. (The editor who helped supervise it and who liked the series, Earl Moses, later nominated the series for a Pulitzer Prize, although it was never chosen by the Pulitzer Committee as a finalist. Ironically, Jewish editors at the newspaper supported the series but non-Jewish editors did not, fearing a backlash.)
One editor told me outright, that the Arabs don’t read the newspaper, don’t advertise in the newspaper and they don’t even bother to write letters to the editor on major issues published by the newspaper.
In fact, when the series ran, the newspaper received 300 letters to the editor, the majority coming from pro-Israel activists and readers who attacked the series. Only two or three letters were written supporting the series.
Everything that Israel does today violates principles of justice and law that Americans claim to hold dear. Civilians are singled out and punished. Their rights are stripped. Their property is confiscated. And the only basis for this is the fact that the victims are not Jewish. They are Christian or Muslim.
Ironically, America is a “Christian” nation and yet American Christians have been brainwashed through years of strategic communications spin into believing that Arab Christians are terrorists or Muslims in disguise, or that they are not really Christian at all. That’s why Israel can oppress Bethlehem without consequence. They can storm the Church of the Nativity and blame it on “Muslim terrorists.”
Everyday innocent Palestinians are killed or injured by Israeli soldiers and everyday their rights are stolen, but the mainstream American news media won’t report it. But when an Israeli who is Jewish is killed or injured, the story becomes the driving force in feeding the pro-Israel racism of the American public.
Simple strategic communications can change it.
The Arab news media is ineffective and can’t be relied on to provide an effective truth. Most of their journalism is written in Arabic, a language most Americans do not understand. Recently, a decade long battle to bring television news that portrays the Arab people as the victims of Israeli military abuses finally failed.
I can easily change all of that. I can flip the results and make 54 percent of Americans sympathize with Palestinians. I can make it the members of Congress who want to support peace find the courage and support to speak out against Israeli excesses.
Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, who is Jewish, has been an outspoken advocate of justice for both Israel and Palestine. But he is a anomaly. And ironically, as a Palestinian activist myself, I have NEVER demanded that the news media or elected officials be “anti-Israel” or oppose Israel’s “right to exist.” All I have ever asked is that the news media and elected officials be fair and balanced and show both sides. Allow both sides to be heard. The media doesn’t allow both sides to be heard, only the pro-Israel side is heard in substance while the pro-Palestinian side is marginalized, muted, blocked and suppressed.
A strategic communications plan could change that. Just a little money, far less than what the Arab world spends on islands, luxuries, diamond crusted Mercedes vehicles, and gold plated vehicles or even gambling and huge posh buildings and properties.
The Arab World spends more on junk and nothing on justice.
That’s pretty said.
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Ray Hanania is an award winning political columnist and author. He 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 for TheArabDailyNews.com, and TheDailyHookah.com.
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, 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.
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
Visit this link to read Ray's column archive at the ArabNews,com www.arabnews.com/taxonomy/term/10906
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