Thursday, September 13, 2007

To the US: Talk, and listen to, the Arabs

Just about by any reckoning, the way the US has approached the various Middle East crisis's, and countries in the region, has been a disaster. Underlying that problem has been a failure to speak with Arabs in the volatile region - especially since 9/11.

This is an issue taken up by Mohamed Elmenshawy, the editor in chief of Arab Insight, a new journal published by the World Security Institute in Washington, writing in The Christian Science Monitor:

"Despite today marking the sixth anniversary of Sept. 11, US policymakers and pundits continue to use the same misleading approach toward understanding the Arab world.

When you pose a question about two disparate cultures and their intertwined relationship, common sense leads you to involve both parties. Yet, for the past six years, I have watched the D.C. circles fail to do just that. Each anniversary, I witness Americans asking Americans, discussing among other Americans, the topic of something none of them are – Arabs. Six years after the devastating attacks, Americans are still asking that ubiquitous question: "Why do they hate us?"

Efforts to answer this question have been prolific. Conventions, speeches, research, opinion polls, books, articles, the list goes on. But in the end they lack the necessary depth and rigor, failing to listen to Arab voices and enhance understanding of the Arab world.

Six years after the attacks, there is more prejudice, more fear, and, regrettably, more distance to overcome in order to adequately understand one another."

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