Our tendency in the Arab world to express our anger in an extreme manner is a cultural trait that is much more likely to affect us negatively than to support our position. I have watched the burning of the American and Israeli flags on hundreds of occasions; invariably, the outcome was that we were left with the ashes of the flags — and the occupation of additional land. Furthermore, in an attempt to regain our occupied lands, many Arabs advocate boycotting American products that are sold in the Middle East, while others express their sympathy for the Palestinians by using the Al-Aqsa Mosque as the profile image on their social media accounts.
These kinds of reactions are well intentioned, but they have absolutely no impact on either the state of Israel or the US. Both nations are well established politically and have strong economies that won’t be affected by such gestures. We need to think of our strengths as Arabs, explore the most effective methods that the world understands and values today, and stop insisting on resorting to means that give us pleasure or make us feel heroic; both of which are personalized responses that work on boosting the status of many individual politicians with zero value to the Palestinians.
A true Arab’s dilemma is that the world perceives Israel’s use of military and security troops to fight Palestinians as legitimate, but Palestinians throwing stones at Israeli troops are seen to be committing violent acts. We are living in an era when no one wants to see violence, even if it is committed by victims. This phenomenon should stimulate us to explore other means with which to convey our anger; methods which are more valued by the world today than those we have been using for decades. As for suicide bombers who target innocent civilians, this is clearly defined as a terrorist act.
The majority of the world’s citizens certainly sympathize with the Palestinian cause, their decades-long daily suffering, and their displacement from their homeland. Nevertheless, the world is ruled by powerful nations, not by the accumulated sympathy of its inhabitants. Still, there is room for achieving success by peaceful means. We need to work on influencing nations with our political arguments. It is a lengthy and protracted process, but would probably lead to better results, and with fewer casualties.
We need to work on influencing nations with our political arguments — it is a lengthy process but would probably lead to better results and with fewer casualties.
We Arabs need to renew the battle for communicating our case to the world peacefully and intelligently. Eventually, we will be able to build a clear case based on strong arguments, and many nations and citizens will support us. While the Palestinians have tried this method before, they have been alternating between using peaceful means and expressing their anger in demonstrations and protests. We need to use this method exclusively. It will be a long battle, but one that is certainly worth undertaking.
I do not contend in this commentary that the world is a fair place. On the contrary, injustice is extremely intense and widespread, and it has affected the Palestinian people more than the citizens of any other nationality. Nevertheless, we have already tried many methods, often affiliated with elements of aggression. The outcome has been the occupation of more Palestinian land by the Israeli state and the heaping of blame on the Palestinians for their violence. These results should have prompted us to explore other methods much earlier. It is high time to do so now.
• Mohammed Nosseir, a liberal politician from Egypt, is a strong advocate of political participation and economic freedom. Twitter: @MohammedNosseir