Thursday, June 21, 2007

Letting The Truth Out Into The Arab Media

What do you do when you are the General Manager of a popular Arabic satellite television channel if you understand the real reasons so many Palestinians live in misery? The station you manage, the popular weekly news magazine you once edited, indeed your entire career as a highly successful and respected journalist in the Arab world has been for organizations who featured blaming Israel for the plight of the Palestinians. Now it's time to tell the world, honestly and truthfully, that what the Arabs have done to their Palestinian brethren is far worse and that Israel's Palestinian-Arab minority actually fares pretty well. How do you do it?

I suppose this was the challenge facing Abdul Rahman Al-Rashed, the Dubai-based General Manager of al-Arabiya. On June 9 he wrote an amazing piece in Asharq Al-Awsat, the news magazine where he was once Editor-in-Chief. The first paragraph is doctrinaire: praising the fairness of the Palestinian cause and condemning occupation. The rest of it, though, is a revelation considering the source and is very much part of the sea change in Arab thinking I have been blogging about. Here are some excerpts:What is happening in Lebanon's Nahr al Bared camp today is just one such example where battles have raised an overwhelming number of questions: who are these people? How long have they lived in the camp and how? What are their rights?


Some Arab countries “hosting” refugees ban them from leaving [camps], from occupying a large number of positions and deny them any other legal rights. Some of them have to jump over walls and sneak out to complete their chores or to breathe and experience the outside world. One can imagine these randomly and poorly built houses during the winter chill and sweltering heat of the summer among the sewage and insufficient services. It is a shame.


Our insistence to lock the Palestinians in camps and treat them like animals in the name of preserving the issue is far worse a crime than Israel stealing land and causing the displacement of people. The 60 year-old camps only signify our inhumanity and double standards. Israel can claim that it treats the Palestinians better than their Arab brothers do. It gives citizenship to the Palestinians of 1948 as well as the right to work and the right to lead a somewhat normal life
OK, the bit about Israel "stealing land" is traditional Arab rhetoric without historical basis, but the rest, a stinging indictment of the Arab treatment of Palestinian refugees and the 60 year perpetuation of their refugee status for political reasons is right on the mark. It's something I would expect from an Israeli writer. It is tremendously powerful coming from Mr. Al-Rashed.

Digg it!

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