The Arab World is a shambles caused through its own poor leadership. A combination of religious fanaticism built around Islam, and oppression of its people through brutality and oppression, the Arab World has cornered itself in a tight squeeze of irrelevancy
By Ray Hanania
In 2007, a billionaire American Jew named Sheldon Adelson took profits he made from his extensive investments and his casino industry in Las Vegas and launched a small little Hebrew language newspaper called “Israel Hayom.”
The purpose was obvious, to influence and reforge how Israelis perceived themselves and insulate them from the mounting criticism of their continued occupation of the West Bank and the growing brutality and violence against Christian and Muslim Palestinians there and also against non-Jewish citizens of Israel.
Rather than use the newspaper to increase his profits, Adelson poured money into the publication and gave it away for free. Every weekday Sunday through Thursday. Two years later, he expanded it to include publication of a weekend edition.
Today, Israel Hayom is the most influential newspaper in Israel, in Hebrew. And the growing power of the rightwing fanatics who control Israel’s government stand on Israel Hayom’s fringes to tighten their grip on repression, apartheid-like discrimination against non-Jews and the expansion of illegal settlements throughout the West Bank and in occupied Jerusalem.
And Adelson is in fact probably one of the most influential people in American politics. His beliefs, his politics and his money decides elections, and those elections have a direct impact on the lives of billions of people in the Middle East. We criticize him often, but is that criticism merely a reflection of our own disgust with the pathetic leadership that infects the Arab World?
It’s not that the Israelis needed their own rightwing news media to reenforce their power. They already have the mainstream American news media in an affinity headlock. American Jewish writers who way outnumber American Arabs in journalism, hold sway over what the newspapers and broadcast media cover, soft-peddling criticism of Israel and exaggerating criticism of the Arabs, Muslims and Palestinians.
The American news media plays such a crucial role in distorting the Middle East conflict. It is so influential that American foreign policy is based on the false perceptions, distortions of history and outright lies that have become Israel’s political narrative over the past seven decades.
Yet Adelson did it anyway because he knows what the Arabs are too stupid to know, that the pen is mightier than the sword. It is more powerful than truth, accuracy and Democracy. Controlling and owning the news media is more important than being elected president of the United States, the greatest and most powerful nation in the world.
This past week, Gannett, the largest circulation print media group in the country, made an offer to purchase the vast newspaper holdings of the Tribune Company (10 newspapers including the Chicago Tribune, the Los Angeles Times, the Hartford Courant and the Orlando Sentinel). The price, $12.60 a share (63 percent higher than the share value) for a total bid of $815 million.
Sounds like a lot, right? Well, not really. At least not to the Arabs.
In 2012, before he became King, Prince Salman (a “prince” only) spent $30 million to cover the cost of a month long vacation in the Maldives for his entourage.
This year, King Salman has agreed to spend more than $3 billion to build ab ridge that will link Egypt and Saudi Arabia across the Red Sea.
They built a ski resort in the middle of the desert in Dubai for $400 million in 2005, and the worlds largest shopping mall right next door.
The tallest building in the world, nearby, is the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, which cost a cool $1.5 billion (built by an America firm, of course).
What’s $815 million to the Arabs? A lot of glitter.
The Arabs will spend $700,000 for a car, drop a million dollars on designer labeled clothing during a shopping spree in London and Paris, but no one in the Arab World, not one person, is smart enough to slap his forehead and say, “Wow.Why don’t we buy the Tribune company? It just might make a difference in how the world sees our people.”
That’s because they don’t care about the people. They don’t care Palestine. They don’t care about Islam. They don’t care about the poor, or even giving during the Holy Month of Ramadan to help the poor. They care about themselves. And the conflicts and the terrorism and the violence and the uncertainty actually keep them in power.
Yes, conflict and turmoil keep the people distracted, screaming at Israel and “the Jews,” about everything while having no time left to ask themselves why they are living in filth and poverty while their governments and kings and queens drop a million dollars like it is one penny!
When will the Arab World get off its lazy, rich asses? When will they become accountable and responsible? When will they commit at least some of their wealth to doing good in the world for their people and their causes, rather than just for themselves?
And people wonder why there is this extremist crazy element out there called Daesh (ISIS and al-Qaeda)? The reason why the fanatic terrorists exist is that they feed off of the reality that sets in for many Arabs who see their leaders squander power and wealth for nothing.
It doesn’t take much to do something, to change the world in a good way. It won’t take much to change how Americans view the Middle East and issues like Palestine, Syria and Iraq, if they only put a fraction of their wealth into trying.
All they have to do is put aside a small fraction of their enormous wealth towards changing the news media, publishing OUR STORY as Arabs and Muslims, and using just a little common sense to promote strategic communications.
There’s nothing strategic about ignorance driven by the bonfire of the vanities in the Arab World.
When will a Billionaire American Arab do even better? That sad question has no real answer in our world today.
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