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November 7, 2003 Special Dispatch No. 605

Arab Liberal Writer: Blames Arab Media for Hatred of the U.S.

November 7, 2003
Special Dispatch No. 605

Anop-ed by Abd Al-Bari Atwan, editor of London Arabic daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi, claiming that the U.S. is to blame for the Arab world's hatred of it, [1] sparked a debate in the Arab press. Munir Al-Mawari, a Yemenite journalist and columnist for the London Arabic-language daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, wrote several articles responding to Atwan's claims. The following are excerpts from two of Al-Mawari's articles:

The Arab Media Fans Hatred of the U.S.

In an article titled, "False Interpretation of the Reasons for Arabs' Growing Hatred of America," which was published in the Kuwaiti daily Al-Siyassa, [2] Munir Al-Mawari wrote: "It is fortunate that the committee appointed by the U.S. government to study the roots of Arab hatred towards the U.S… did not seek the help of Abd Al-Bari Atwan and his likes in the Arab media. Day and night, they promote lies and misinformation, and they [themselves] are a primary reason for the flaring of this hatred towards America among the common folk…

"The Abd Al-Bari Atwan [appearing] on CNN is completely different from the Abd Al-Bari Atwan on the Al-Jazeera network or in his Al-Quds Al-Arabi daily. On CNN, Atwan speaks solemnly and with total composure, presenting rational and balanced views. This is in complete contrast with his fuming appearances on Al-Jazeera and in Al-Quds Al-Arabi, in which he whips up the emotions of multitudes of viewers and readers.

"Abd Al-Bari Atwan is part of the problem… and our problem is that it is not only America that we hate. Our Arab societies are societies of hate; we were raised to hate each other even before we hated others… The Arab societies are… also failed societies.

"The U.S. realized that it had supported corrupt and terrorist Arab regimes that created fertile ground for poverty and terror. For this reason, Washington began to change its policy and to extend a hand to people rather than to their governments, in the hope that they would progress and rid themselves of their corrupt regimes. Unfortunately… since in our culture, idiocy and poverty go hand in hand, the Arab people express hostility toward America, instead of benefiting from the convergence of their interests and the global interests of the greatest superpower…"

The Arabs Can Learn From Israeli Democracy

"According to Abd Al-Bari Atwan, 'the U.S. has given the world a model of equality, human rights, an independent judicial authority, and democratic institutions, but has always acted to deprive Arabs and Muslims of these achievements…'

"Mr. Abd Al-Bari Atwan… It is not possible to impose these achievements if they don't want them. Democracy is not a commodity that the U.S. can export or donate.

"Atwan complains that, 'At the Aqaba summit, the U.S. president pledged to preserve Israel's Jewish identity…' and [he wonders] 'how the U.S. – a country with ethnic, religious, and cultural pluralism – can support a racist country that is based on religion…'

"Mr. Atwan, the U.S. does not support Israel because it is a Jewish country, but because Israel has succeeded in linking its existence with the supreme national American interest. We have 22 religious countries. In all of them but one, the constitution stipulates that Islam is the national religion and that Islamic law is the principle source of legislation. [And yet] despite this, the U.S. maintains ties with us. The reality is that Israel is more democratic than any Arab country, and the suffering of the Palestinian citizen in Israel is much less than the suffering of the Arab citizen in his homeland and his own Arab country, whatever country that may be …"

The U.S. Will Rebuild Iraq As It Restored Japan and Germany

"Atwan wonders 'how the American government can justify a war against a besieged country [i.e. Iraq]… based on the lie regarding weapons of mass destruction.' My dear sir, Iraq had no need to hide weapons of mass destruction because Saddam Hussein's regime was the greatest weapon of mass destruction, and this weapon was destroyed. The mass graves are overwhelming proof that this regime was a regime of mass destruction. The Americans could not risk leaving Saddam in power just because he may not have possessed such weapons [of mass destruction], when he had already used them against his people and against Iran…

"Atwan says, 'The U.S. has the greatest experience in the world… in sowing destruction, and the greatest failure in bringing prosperity and peace. Thus it left ruin in Somalia, in Afghanistan, and now in Iraq…'

"[Mr. Atwan], history teaches us that there was never a country in whose affairs the U.S. intervened that did not experience rebirth. Rather than mention Somalia, whose affairs were never run by the U.S., why not present as evidence post-World War II Japan, Germany, and France?… Japan and Germany did not complain about the American occupation because they realized that the American presence would ultimately contribute to their peoples' interests… [In Afghanistan] it suffices that the worst theocratic regime in human history has been erased from the map, and [as for Iraq] the dagger of the worst Arab regime of our age has been removed from our necks. Soon we will see the results of the quiet [reconstruction] taking place in Iraq…"

Had the Arabs Possessed WMD They Would Have Destroyed the World

"According to Atwan, 'the American administration… that is trying to destroy WMD forgets that the U.S. was the only country in history ever to use weapons of mass destruction… While it permits Israel… to possess such weapons, it threatens Iraq, Iran, and Syria if they only dare to think of possessing WMD.'

"…The danger inherent in WMD is the possibility that such weapons will be within the reach of reckless regimes and terror gangs… The U.S. possesses a huge WMD arsenal, but has not used them since World War II. In contrast, we, the Arabs, have threatened to destroy half the state of Israel, when we had at our disposal a very small quantity of this type of weapon and after we used it against our Arab brothers… What would happen if we had real WMD at our disposal? Considering the hatred boiling within us towards ourselves and towards the entire world, we might destroy the entire planet…"

The Arab Media Does Not Let Defenders of the U.S. Speak

To Atwan's claim that "the Arab satellite channels suffer from a severe shortage of voices and figures willing to defend the U.S…. because it is indefensible…" Al-Mawari responds: "There are many who [would] defend the U.S. in the Arab media – but in the Arab media jungle, dominated by extremists or by those who fear them, America's defenders don't have a chance… Does the U.S. realize that it must fight the weapons of bias and mass fraud before it eliminates WMD?"

The Arab World is Awash in Neo-Reactionaries

In another article, titled "The Neo-Reactionaries Invade the Arab World," published in the London-based Arabic daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, [3] Al-Mawari wrote: "Since the fall of the USSR, the Arab leftists are struggling and groping, like blind men in the dark, for a new path… and they now ride the [horse] of the fundamentalist Islamic parties… which have already led their supporters to death…

"The Arab nationalists and socialists cling to enmity towards the West and reviling [of] the U.S. and forget… the common ground that ties them to [Western] culture, to civil [society], to modernism, and to progress. These people have made a pact with the reactionaries, with backwardness, with extremism, and with the adherents of the ideology of suicide, on the now-disproved pretext of the existence of a common enemy [facing them] – and they mean the U.S.

"In contrast, after the events of September 11 the Americans realized… that extremism and backwardness do not distinguish between Arab and American, Indian or Brazilian. The danger is enveloping all and uprooting it is an obligation incumbent upon all peoples of the world… "What is great about the Americans is that they learn from experience and amend their policy in accordance with the new reality. Luckily for the Arab people, the neo-conservatives are in power in the U.S. It seems that they grasped that the U.S.'s former policy led to the strengthening of the extremists and the destruction of the enlightened forces in the Arab world, and therefore they undertook to amend the previous policy… If the Arab nationalists or socialists would look around them, they would realize that the danger comes not from the U.S., and not from the neo-conservatives, but from those amongst them..."


[1] Al-Quds Al-Arabi (London), October 3, 2003.

[2] Al-Siyassa (Kuwait), October 3, 2003,
http://www.alseyassah.com/alseyassah/opinion/default.asp?currentpage=5.
The article was also posted on this date at http://www.elaph.com.;9090/elaph/arabic/index.html.

[3] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), October 5, 2003.

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