Redefining and empowering a new Arab League


Redefining and empowering a new Arab League

Every day I get press releases about pro-Israel activists and spokespeople appearing on TV and radio programs to defend the country. Israel and its allies are spending millions to develop effective communications strategies to manage public perceptions of it as a peace-loving victim and Arabs as violent terrorists. One of the best-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, but ineffectively. They are in disarray, much like the rebel factions competing against each other in the war for freedom against Syrian dictator Bashar 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 The pen is mightier than the sword, and in today’s technological world, the pen has been replaced by cell phones, text messaging, social media and instant video messaging.
Israel is one country. The Arab world consists of 22, including a dozen that are stable and effective; the rest are consumed by political and economic turmoil. The concept of the Arab League was great, but it needs to be restructured. Differences between the 22 Arab countries have always stood in the way of effective consensus. 
The UN embraced one agenda advanced by Western interests, which is why even today UN votes are inconsistent and hypocritical. The US, which helped found the UN, decides which atrocities are addressed and confronted. The US always condemns atrocities in the Arab world, but not those committed by Israel.
The Arab League needs to be reorganized and its mission redefined. What is its mission? Trying to keep everyone happy? The Arab world is today influenced by moderates and extremists. The extremists include Syria, Iran and Qatar, and their violent stooges fueling extremism throughout the region. 
The moderates include Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq. They have a challenge defeating the extremists because the latter base their empowerment not on how many people they represent, but on violence and loud rhetoric. One fanatic can create more chaos than 100,000 moderates can achieve peace.

The Arab League needs to be reorganized and its mission redefined. The Arab world is today influenced by moderates and extremists. The extremists include Syria, Iran and Qatar, and their violent stooges fueling extremism throughout the region. 

Ray Hanania

So why try to bring all 22 Arab countries together? Syria and Qatar do not deserve voices in the Arab League. That is the first step to making the new league effective. It needs to marginalize them until they renounce extremism. The second step is to better define its mission, which is to bring Arabs together. 
The Arab world is changing in a bad way, losing its identity and embracing individualistic and selfish agendas driven by politics and religion. The power of the word “Arab” needs to be restored. Arab empowerment can change the world for the better. It can also put real pressure on Israel, which is exploiting the Arab world’s disarray.
Israel talks the talk of peace, but walks the walk of conflict. Its government pretends to want to resolve the conflict with the Palestinians, but 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 cast itself as the victim and Arabs as the oppressors, when it is in fact the other way around. 
The Arab world has always needed a tough father figure to impose order and achieve goals. Just because the US pretends that Western democracy is fair, that does not 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 reorganize the Arab League’s membership and mission. 
The real mission is to communicate to the world who Arabs really are, to advance the cause of Arab moderates, and to confront extremists, whether they are militias such as Hezbollah or tyrannical governments such as those in 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 PR and public affairs mission, to strengthen moderate voices, confront Israel’s obstinacy and call out extremists in the Arab world and especially in the West.
The Arab world’s future rests in the West. If the former fails to support moderate Arab voices in the latter, they will fail in their fight against Middle East extremists, who survive because the image of the Arab in the West remains distorted, stereotyped, vilified and confused with the image of Muslims. This is an intentional tactic by the Arab world’s enemies. 
We have failed to use the PR weapon. 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. We can criticize Israel and not be anti-Semitic, and 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 [email protected].
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