Reorganize and improve the Arab League
The Arab League needs to be reorganized putting an emphasis on moderation and public relations while targeting for expulsion the extremists in the Arab World. It’s the only way to counter Israel’s abusive political public relations campaigns to demonize the Palestinians, blame all Arabs for ISIS, and tighten the headlock on the pathetically uninformed typical American
By Ray Hanania
Originally published in the Arab News. Everyday I get press releases telling me about pro-Israel activists and spokespeople who are appearing on TV and radio programs, nationally and regionally, to defend Israel.
Israel and its allies are spending millions to develop effective communications strategies to manage the public’s perceptions, to see Israel as the peace loving victims and the Arabs as the violent terrorists.
One of the biggest funded campaigns is the drive to merge criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism.
I rarely receive anything from pro-Arab activists fighting racism against Arabs. They are out there fighting, though ineffectively. They’re in disarray much like the rebel factions competing against each other in the war for freedom against Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad and his neo-Soviet colonialists and Iranian nannies.
Communications is the new battlefield. Technology makes it easier to empower words and messages. The pen is more powerful than the sword, and in today’s technological world, the pen has been replaced by cell phones, text messaging, social media and instant video messaging.
Of course, Israel is one country. The Arab World consists of 22 countries including a dozen that are stable and effective, while the rest are consumed by political and economic turmoil.
The concept of the Arab League was a great idea. But it needs to be restructured much like the founding of the United Nations.
You can’t have 22 Arab countries with different interests actually come together to effectively defined one communications messages engaging Arab nationalism. Their differences have always stood in the way of effective consensus.
What the United Nations did was embrace one agenda advanced by the interests of the West, which is why even today United Nation’s votes are inconsistent and hypocritical.
America, which helped found the UN, decides which atrocities are addressed and confronted, and which are not. The U.S. always condemns atrocities in the Arab World, with one except, the atrocities committed by Israel.
The Arab League needs to be reorganized and its mission redefined. What is it’s mission, by the way? Trying to keep everyone happy?
The Arab World is today influenced by moderates and extremists. The extremists include states like Syria, Iran, and Qatar, and their violent stooges fueling extremism throughout the region. The moderates include Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, and have a challenge defeating the extremists because extremists base their empowerment not on how many people they represent but rather on their violence and loud screaming rhetoric.
One fanatic can create more chaos than 100,000 moderates can achieve peace.
So why try to bring all 22 Arab countries together. Syria and Qatar don’t deserve voices on the Arab League. That’s the first step to making the new Arab League effective. The Arab League needs to marginalize them until they renounce their extremism.
The second step is to better define their mission. And what is their mission? To bring the Arab people together and counter the trend of diversification. Yes, the Arab World is changing in a bad way, loosing its “Arab” identity and embracing individualistic and selfish agendas driven by politics and even religion.
The power of the word “Arab” needs to be restored. Arab empowerment can change the world for the better.
It can also create real pressure against Israel, which currently exploits the Arab World’s disarray to advance it’s “two-policy” agenda: Israel talks the talk of peace but walks the walk of conflict. Its government pretends to want to resolve the conflict over the holy lands of Palestine, but instead embraces policies that strip Arabs of their rights including in occupied Jerusalem.
Disarray in the Arab World, the ineffectiveness of the Arab League, and the extremism embraced by many Arab activists in the West have made it easier for Israel to achieve its goals of casting themselves as the victims and the Arabs and the oppressors, when it is the other way around.
The Arab World has always needed a tough father figure to impose order and to achieve goals. Just because the United States pretends that Western Democracy is fair – it’s really not – doesn’t mean the Arab World should make the same mistake and embrace Western Democracy.
Instead, the moderate leadership of the Arab World including Egypt and Saudi Arabia should put their feet down hard on the Arab League, and reorganize its membership and its mission.
The real mission is to communicate to the world who Arabs really are. Their mission is to advance the cause of Arab moderates, and to be blunt in confronting the extremists, whether they are militias like Hezbollah or tyrannical governments like Syria and Qatar.
Qatar has done much over the years to undermine the influence of the Arab League, blunting moderate voices and challenging moderates like the current head of the Arab League, Ahmed Aboul-Gheit. Qatar opposed his appointment mainly because they continue to embrace a radicalized and extreme religious agenda in conspiracy with Iran and Syria.
The Arab League needs an effective and articulate spokesperson and a powerful Public Relations and Public Affairs mission to strengthen the moderate voices, confront Israel’s obstinacy, and call out the extremists in the Arab World and especially in the West.
The truth is the future of the Arab World rests in the heart of the Western World. If the Arab World fails to support the moderate Arab voices in the West, they will fail in their fight against Middle East extremists.
The Middle East extremists survive because the image of the Arab in the West remains distorted, stereotyped and vilified. The West continues to see both “good” and “bad” Arabs as being one. And they also confuse the images of “Arabs” with the images of “Muslims.”
That’s not an accident. It’s intentional, by the enemies of the Arab World.
PR is the weapon we have failed to use. What are we waiting for?
Semantics have meaning. How you convey messages empower the powerless. A fundamental communications campaign can make a huge difference for Arabs and Muslims, too.
We can criticize Israel and not be anti-Semitic. We can call out extremism in Qatar and Syria without being anti-Arab.
(Ray Hanania is an award winning Palestinian American columnist, author and former journalist. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.)