For a better presentation of Arabs case

Category: World Affairs Topics: United States Of America Views: 1382
1382

The recent spate of bomb attacks in the Zionist-occupied territories and the truncated Gaza strip are indications that all is not well. Despite the continuing peace process and the talks between Israelis and Arabs there is simmering resentment.

People who are oppressed find ways to release their frustration through various means. In the case of the Palestinians subjugated for years by a tyrannical Israeli government encouraged by benign looks from El Patron the United States, there was only one recourse - violence.

This violence met with horrific reaction by the Israelis who using freely supplied weapons and bombs engaged in a genocide against the Palestinians. I use the word "genocide" because there is no other word to describe it. The killings of Palestinians of all ages, the destruction of their hearths and homes and the physical and emotional assault on their sensibilities appalled all those who believe in human rights and the dignity of man. 

In the United States, however, the situation was different. Zionist lobbies were served in the Congress and television and Israel was lionized. The point driven home to the majority of the gullible American public (many of whom cannot identify the US president who ordered the mass destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki) was that Israel, the only bastion of democracy, is being beleaguered by "hordes" of Arabs and thus needs to be defended at all costs.

The Arabs on their part did not do anything to counter these claims. They were at an initial disadvantage because of the deep rooted prejudice in the media. No one could get a line in any paper. As for television, the less said the better. The television stations would also pit a well groomed eloquent Zionist against a deliberately chosen ill informed nervous looking Arab who would be made to look like an idiot. However, all that has changed. Today in the Arab world we have a large number of men and women who are eloquent, confident and can be pitted against any Zionist American or Israeli. The question is how do you get them there?

At times even those who are brave enough to speak up find that they have to be careful so as not to offend sensitivities at home. They have to be careful of the thought police. It is like a man being asked "Have you stopped beating your wife?" If he says 'yes' it means he was beating her. If the answer is 'no' then it is more agony for him.

Therefore, the role of an individual in promoting Arab interest becomes suspect. 

What do we do then?

In an open society like the U.S. the Arab national interest can best be served in TV, in the press and in Congress by the kind of public diplomacy PR firms are paid to conduct.

Countries now are vying with each other to pick up lobbying and PR firms in Washington. A strong criteria for selection is the access of these companies to powerful lobbies and groups on Capitol Hill and their links to the press.

The success of Ambassadors in the United States depends on if they, and not the PR firms, can bag a contract with each other. There are cases of two Asian neighbors whose ambassadors used wile and guile to befriend the head of a PR firm who could lobby for them. Thus we notice that diplomacy is giving way to a well concerted public relations program.

There are many cases of governments trying not only to contain the advances of neighboring governments but also of their opposition in their own countries. The government of Angola hired a PR firm to counter Jonas Savimbi's Unita movement. To offset the effect, Savimbi supporters in the U.S. hired another firm to "sell" him to the Congress and the public. The firm advised Savimbi to shed his olive fatigues and dress in a Brooks Brothers suit which did cause some guffaws on Capitol Hill. However, the media loved him and turned him into a Santa Claus, all goodwill and idealism, just the kind the Americans would approve. 

China has a PR firm, as has Taiwan. Yeltsin's government also is polishing its image through the use of a well known PR firm. It is not only countries are engaging the use of PR firms but even organizations and NGO's are doing so and buying spots on national public radio.

The Arabs would serve their cause better if they study and follow the methods used by others in the United States. Through the use of PR firms they can promote themselves and fight discrimination. Organizations, Chambers of Commerce, educational institutions etc. can be in the vanguard to remedy past discrimination. In the United States, by and large, the general public is wary of governments and their promotion campaigns. They perceive this to be a propaganda ploy.

The Arabs cannot rely for support from either the Democratic or Republican parties because there are no sizable majority votes like those of the Irish-American or Italian-American. And even if there are some chunks, they are far and few and hopelessly divided. Of course, one must admit some Arab organizations in the past couple of decades have seasoned into mature lobbying groups and have pulled off some striking successes. However, one cannot bask in temporary glory and give oneself pats on the back because of a new dimension - the so called "Islamic fundamentalism" that has appeared. 

The Zionist lobby is promoting the fear of "Islamic terror" citing the examples of the World Trade Center bombing and several other killings. The courts have yet to determine the culprits. Yet mass hysteria has been created by anti-Arab and anti-Islamic groups who are using it as a great coup.

The Arabs should now realize that terse statements to the press, avoiding meetings, avoiding discussions even with a hostile media, refusing to answer requests for interviews and looking glum on the television will no longer serve their purpose. Enough damage has been done. From my own experience, I have come to the conclusion that, by and large, people can be made to change their attitudes and preferences. They may oppose us and seem intolerable for the simple reason that no one has approached them. Let us therefore give them an option.

Many of us, citing past experiences, would like to put down the shutters. This would be self-defeating. We should put all our energies into devising ways of trying to safeguard our interests.

It is this openness and determination to be bold that would make us the true defenders of our ideas and cause. Why be afraid of debates? Is it because we are not used to debates and dialogues. Is it because we have given up. Whatever the case may be we, as individuals, organizations and States should effectively use all the necessary tools to promote ourselves.

We may be great and have a cause and our diplomacy engages in Bon Homie with the other, but it is those who are outside with the real opinion makers who count.

The Israelis, it has been rightly said, are winning because they are the only team on the pitch. If PR can put us too there, as the other team, let us not overlook that option.


  Category: World Affairs
  Topics: United States Of America
Views: 1382

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