Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

The One Way Forward

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

The One Way Forward

Article excerpt

Ahmed Bouzid is president of Palestine Media Watch, .

Not that we have had a "good week" since the second intifada started back in September 2000, but the last week of June was a particularly bad and ugly week for those who struggle for justice and peace in the Middle East: President George W. Bush gave a speech that could just as well have been written by a Likud speechwriter; Congressman Earl Hilliard of Alabama was defeated by AIPAC money; Ariel Sharon's Belgium trials were thrown out over a technicality; and CNN spectacularly buckled under mighty pro-Israeli pressures.

And so we must ask: what should the lesson be for us Arabs, Muslims, and those who support the Palestinians' quest for independence? What should we learn from the setbacks of that nasty week?

When Ariel Sharon began his military reinvasion of the West Bank back in March, his intent was to destroy fully the nascent Palestinian state's infrastructure and to set the stage for a full reoccupation of the West Bank. And, while he did manage to do that to a certain extent, he was reigned back and had to pace his murderous assault. Why? Because ordinary Arab citizens around the world mobilized en masse and gave Europe and the U.S. a bad scare. It was not Arab governments who kept Sharon in check, not any threat to stop the flow of oil (there was none issued, except for Saddam Hussain's half-hearted gesture), not any threat to halt cooperation in "the war against terrorism," but the threat of a popular revolt that could spiral out of control.

We need to keep that lesson well in mind in these difficult times, when we ask ourselves: what on earth can be done to get us out of this absurd situation? Justice is on our side, the vast majority of the world is on our side, so why do the Israelis continue to score points while we keep on falling behind? What can we do beside lamenting our fate, to make the headway we should be making?

Looking back closer to ourselves here in the U.S., the answer is simple: pro-Israel Jews and their supporters are constantly on the move, are constantly mobilized, are highly motivated and organized, and wage their battle to promote what they believe in EVERY SINGLE DAY.

When Earl Hilliard was picked as the political season's victim of the year by AIPAC, pro-Israel supporters did not whine, wince, and wring hands: they sent checks, spread the word, and kept at it until he was defeated. They mobilized their well-oiled machine and got things done.

In sharp contrast, what did Arab and Muslim Americans do to support Hilliard? I had a chat with an AP reporter from Alabama last week, a few days before the run-off, and he complained that, aside from our little couple of pages that we at Palestine Media Watch had put up (see ), he could not find anything else on the Internet by way of open support and organization for Congressman Hilliard from Arab Americans. To be sure, there was some behind-the-scene support from Arab-American organizations, but nowhere nearly as much noise and publicity as the campaign should have been given by our side. Worse, Hilliard's opponent, Artur Davis, was showered with money from pro-Israel supporters, while Hilliard received relatively much less from Arab Americans.

Sure, one may argue that we are not as affluent as the pro-Israel forces--but then again, what does it take to raise a million dollars (and a million dollars would have made a huge difference)? …

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