Erdogan strengthens secular and moderate Muslim presence
Published in the Arab News April 20, 2017
By Ray Hanania
In any other election, if someone received more than 51 percent of the vote (a 2 ½ percent margin) over a highly controversial issue, the mainstream news media would declare it a decisive victory and a “mandate.”
But the mainstream news media doesn’t apply the same standards of civil rights for the Muslim and Arab World that they apply to the West.
Last week, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, one of the few truly Democratically elected leaders of the world’s 50 predominantly Muslim nations, won a referendum which expands his powers by eliminating the nation’s antiquated parliamentary system and implementing a new government similar to the one established by the United States.
Turkey has been a parliamentary system governed by a ceremonial President who appoints the country’s Prime Minister.
Many of his foes are concerned but Erdogan’s strategy is clearly intended to prevent Turkey from transforming into another religious state that could morph into a bastion of extremism.
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Trump’s unpredictability is exactly what the Middle East needs
Published in the Arab News April 13, 2017
By Ray Hanania
President Donald Trump’s decision to destroy a Syrian airbase used to deploy chemical weapons against civilian targets shows that America’s new president can do what needs to be done in the Middle East.
The bombing of the Syrian air base, the first ever by an American military force in the six-year long effort by Syria’s terrorist leader Bashar al-Assad to suppress pro-Democracy protestors, is only one example of Trump’s evolving Middle East policy.
Although he campaigned on the platform of being Israel’s strongest ally, heaping praise on Israel’s rightwing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Trump drew a real line in the sand over Israel’s continued expansion of illegal Jewish-only settlements.
Trump has also reinforced his relations with the moderate leadership of the Arab World as strongly as he has with Israel, but without the political fanfare directing the attack on Syria only hours after conferring with Jordan’s King Abdullah II.
Israel builds ties to Christians, while Arabs remain AWOL
Published in the Arab News April 6, 2017
By Ray Hanania
Israel has expanded its powerful and effective public relations campaign to create a voice to appeal to American Christians, while the Arab World continues to ignore the growing needs of Christians in the Middle East.
Christians have continued to suffer in the Middle East and the Muslim World as Arab and Muslim leaders have urged their media to downplay stories that highlight tensions with the Christian minority.
But Christians argue that Muslims and Arabs need to do more to address their needs, including addressing their concerns in public forums where the topics have been taboo and marginalized and to support their Christian communities not just in the Arab World but in Israel, too.
Israel, on the other hand, is making the concerns of Christians one of their top priorities, giving a license to an American Christian evangelical group to broadcast their issues, and support of Israel, to Christians throughout the Middle East and Muslim World.
Jewish students complain about harassment at US campuses
Published in the Arab News March 30, 2017
By Ray Hanania
You have to hand it to AIPAC, the powerful pro-Israel lobbying group that herds American foreign policy on issues related to Israel and the Middle East.
They’ve come out with a new documentary called “Hate Spaces,” which claims to expose rising anti-Semitism on college campuses against pro-Israel students.
That’s fascinating to me because the real harassment has always been against Palestinian and Arab students at many college campuses. Only in recent years have Arab students stood up to the hate politics of the pro-Israel activists in this country.
When I was in college at the University of Illinois after serving honorably during the Vietnam War, I immediately got involved with the Arab Student Organization.
What I learned was that the University of Illinois was biased and discriminatory against Arabs.
The university provided funding, grant money, office space and all kinds of support to the Jewish and pro-Israeli student organizations, but made it impossible for the Arab Student Organization, which I headed as president in 1975-76, to get any funds or program support.