Today, Dr. James Zogby, President and Founder of Arab American Institute in Washington D.C. attended a discussion session at the TAA headquarters on the topic “What does the Arab Spring mean for the Middle East and the U.S?” Dr. Zogby has become the first speaker of our newly initiated Distinguished Guest Speaker Series. He is author of the book “Arab Voices” which raises the issue of why public opinion in the Arab world is matter and what are they saying to us.
This event was held in accordance with the 10 years anniversary of the tragic events that occurred on 9/11, because Dr. Zogby explained in his book and the discussion, that in order to prevent such tragic events from occurring a second time around both the Arabs must learn more about the people of the US and the US must learn more about who the Arabs truly are.
The book “Arab Voices” mainly based on the latest Zogby polls which brought the ideas and thinking of the Arab people. And thus, Dr. Zogby talked about the mistakes of the US Foreign Policy toward the Middle East because of the miscalculations. He underlines ignorance of internal dynamics in the Arab world in the US politics. In other words, as Dr. Zogby discussed we as the US government supported Kings and Dictators in the Middle East while ignoring what Arab people really want.
In his discussion, Dr James Zogby went one step further of the book and drew the attentions to the public opinion of Americans toward the Arab people and misunderstandings in the American community about the Arab people. He says the problem is that we were active in order to protect our interests and our politics, or Israel’s interest and Israel’s politics and of completely ignore the thing that damage that was being done internally in terms of Arab politics was as great as it was.
During the discussion Dr. Zogby explained that there is a misconception about what the Arabpeople truly are. He explained that most Arabs, contrary to the mainstream beliefs, think about howthey are going to provide for their children, stay alive, or even what will happen to their lifestyle thenext day. He also explained that typically people of the Arab world are indulged in soap operas ormovies for their pass time activities. The belief that Arabs only think about how to punish Israel and theUnited States is a myth, according to the polling specialist, because for the local Arabs there are more relevant problems, such as how to provide for their family or life security.
In accordance, Dr. Zogby mentioned what Arab Spring now means is that Arab opinion matters and it matters in Egypt obviously, and it matters in Tunisia, but it is also going to be a matter in Jordan and Saudi Arabia and countries that have not been affected dramatically, because Arabs are not going to listen, but we have to listen what the people are saying. He continued his talk by giving some examples from Palestine and said So, Arab views are matter. It is something we never calculate in our foreign policy. Congress will go and pass the most bizarre legislation assuming all that matter as what we do think in here without awareness of consequences.
Consequences what Dr. Zogby tries to say is in here because according to polls 85% of people answered a question that are you optimistic or pessimistic about the Obama Presidency? as no President can make a difference. He says they convinced themselves that we cannot make a change and we cannot make a right thing; it is not a good position for America to be here when we have interests as dramatic as we do.
Dr. James Zogby then touched upon Islamophobia which is currently more discussed issue. He says Islamophobia did not come out of a fener. It is something we have started with avoid, not knowing when people started asking questions, that answers being given in the people who are being called on give the answers are provided all the wrong answers and created a mindset that is very scary today. And the result therefore, that if you look at the polling numbers here at home what we don’t know fill books in part because we have never read the books that provided answers to give us the information we need. We are operating like blind people in a dark in room; in a world filled with dangerous, and in a world which we have enormous interests put in a world we have not got a clue about what is going on. And therefore, the book is a humble effort just kind of raising the issue about what we don’t know and why we don’t know.