The Irony of Arab-Americans

Joseph Farah,
Nov. 14, 2000

A hundred thousand Israelis filled Tel Aviv's main square yesterday. Ramallah and Jerusalem aren't the only sites of Arab protests these days.

They're also taking place in the streets near The Chicago Sun-Times, The Los Angeles Times, and The New York Times.

Arab-Americans are, if you can believe it, charging that the major US media are biased in favor of Israel and against them. Let's analyze that claim.

A couple of weeks ago, The New York Times ran a photo of a young man bleeding on the streets of Israel and labeled him a "Palestinian" beaten by Israeli police or soldiers. It was complete reflex by the Times. Bleeding? Must be a Palestinian victim. It turns out the young man was a Jewish American student attending school in Israel, and he was beaten by an Arab mob.

Would a paper biased in favor of Israel and against Arabs make such a mistake? How about The Chicago Sun-Times? It turns out the Arabs' beef with the Hollinger paper is that the parent company also owns The Jerusalem Post. The Arab protests at the Sun-Times also focused on an October 3 editorial blaming Yasser Arafat for recent violence.

That's not bias, folks. Those are facts of life. I think it's great that at least one paper in America recognizes that the pro-Arab propaganda disseminated by CNN and most of the establishment press in the US is just that - one-sided disinformation.

And what about The Los Angeles Times? Oh, the syndicate owned by the company had the audacity to distribute a column that criticized "radical, fundamentalist, murderous Islam." The column quickly pointed out that it was not an indictment of a religion, only an attack on extremism within that religion.

But that was too much for the newly organized, monolithic Arab-American community.

It strikes me that all this protest is misguided, if, indeed, the objective is fair, balanced and accurate coverage by the press.

Why is it that these protesters are not criticizing the lack of free press in their native lands? In virtually every case, the official and semi-official news organs of the Arab world have one objective - fostering hatred against the Jewish state.

Reporters, editors and producers for Arab media show one side and one side only - not just in their editorials, but in their so-called news stories. In fact, their "news stories" are, by Western standards, editorials. They are designed to enflame passions, not inform citizens.

No wonder Arab-Americans see pro-Israel bias in the US press. If their standards for objectivity and neutrality are based on the closed-minded, government propaganda spewing forth in the Arab world, coverage in the West must, indeed, look slanted toward the Israeli side.

That's what I can't understand about most Arab-Americans. They are the new victims of prejudice and bias, we're being told over and over again in the US media, thanks to an aggressive public relations offensive by organized groups.

I'm an Arab-American. Why haven't I seen any evidence of this bias and prejudice in 46 years of life? Not once have I been mistreated, misrepresented or vilified because of my Arabic heritage - until very recently. And, interestingly, the hatred - and there is no other word for it - has been directed against me not by Jews, not by the US media, not by Israelis, but by other Arabs.

Apparently what bothers these activists more than anything is one of their own - ethnically speaking - breaking ranks. It's the unforgivable sin. Death threats and insults that would curl your hair are sure to follow. And that's why I say none of these protests should be taken seriously by anyone.

These folks - and, by this, I mean the protesters, the activists - are not interested in fairness. They are not interested in truth. They are not interested in a better image for Arabs and Arab-Americans. What they are interested in is the ultimate irony - bullying their way into victimhood status, as so many other groups have in recent years.

It's sad. It's group-think. And, unfortunately, all too often, it works in America.

Too bad, though, that some of this energy isn't redirected at the closed, police-state world of the Arab states. Do these folks really remember from whence they came?