Arab News & YouGov expose US ignorance of Middle East
A new poll by the Arab News and YouGov.com has exposed a major flaw in the understanding that Americans have of the Middle East. This is remarkable because in the past two years, more Americans have died because of the Middle East than in any other world region. The depth of this lack of education is shocking, and explains why American minds are so easily manipulated by Israeli propaganda and anti-Muslim and anti-Arab racism (Audio Podcast widget below)
By Ray Hanania
When the Arab News and YouGov.com gave me an exclusive look at their recent poll of American attitudes of the Middle East, I have to say I was shocked at the actual depths of how little Americans know.
I have always known that Americans know very little about the facts and reality of the Middle East, which explains why their minds are so easily manipulated by the powerful pro-Israel lobby, AIPAC, and why anti-Muslim and anti-Arab racism is so rampant.
The ignorance pretty much explains everything. I would often tell American and Arab audiences that “Americans are the most educated people in the world, but the least educated about the world.”
But until the Arab News and YouGov.com poll was published just today — and after being given an exclusive look into it’s shocking findings, I have to say the lack of knowledge is worse than anything I ever expected.
One of the most shocking aspects of the poll is that some 21 percent of the nearly 2,100 Americans who responded to the poll identify the “Sultanate of Agrabah” as a real Arab country.
Apparently, Americans were really moved by the Hollywood lyrics, “Oh, I come from a land, from a faraway place where the caravan camels roam. Where they cut off your ear if they don’t like your face, it’s barbaric, but hey, it’s home.”
Agrabah, Arabia is the “City of Mystery” located “this side of the Jordan river” that was home for Aladdin in Disney’s 1993 children’s animated movie.
It does not exist. But 38 percent said that Agrabah should be added to the US travel ban if its “citizens” pose a threat.
21 percent of the nearly 2,100 Americans who
responded to a recent poll on the Middle East
believe the “Sultanate of Agrabah” is an Arab country
Doesn’t that make sense considering that most Americans believe that Israel is the victim of Palestinian violence and hate, and believe that Palestinians do not have a right to statehood?
It makes sense that most Americans, who are Christian, have turned their backs on the essence of their own Christian religion, closing their eyes to Israeli atrocities, land confiscations and Israeli violence against Christian citizens of the “Jewish State” and Christian civilians living under Israel’s brutal oppression of the West Bank.
How do Americans get so ignorant about facts?
Public Relations. Compelling fiction. Strategic communications spin. These are the three things the Israelis invest much of their money in. They spend a fortune to convince Americans of the lie that Palestine was ” a land without a people.”
Making Israel’s propaganda even more effective is the fact that the Arab World doesn’t spend a Dinar on public relations, or strategic communications spin. The Arab World doesn’t invest money in movies that promote the Arab cause and culture, or on fiction books that Americans consume like popcorn at a movie. (American consume more than 17 billion quarts of popcorn every year, an amount that would fill the Empire State Building 18 times.)
And you can read my column on the poll by clicking here.
What’s amazing to me is that I write a column each week on Middle East affairs, Palestine and American perceptions of Arab World issues for the Arab News, and I wrote about American issues for Americans in the Southwest News Newspaper Group in Chicagoland in Illinois, and I am not sure if the truth has an impact of American readers
Maybe I should convince the Southwest News Newspaper group to let me write about Middle East issues in the hopes of bringing up America’s failure grade to a level of acceptability, or a basic passing grade!
(Ray Hanania is an award winning Palestinian American columnist, author and former CHicago City Hall political reporter. He writes a weekly column for the Arab News on Middle East issues, and a weekly column on American politics for the Southwest News Newspaper group in Chicago, Illinois. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.)