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Friday, August 27, 2004

Lebanon Editorial: Engage American Jews, all else has failed the Arab world



Has the time not come for Arabs and Muslims to recognize the need for a dialogue with the American Jewish community in its capacity as an important policy-making force in the U.S., and one that influences all things Middle Eastern?
Instead of insulting American Jews - as Arab editorialists and intellectuals have been doing for 50 years - why not show respect for their evident weight and engage them in a constructive dialogue?
Some Arab leaders continue to hang on to the myth that assistance can be sought from the largely irrelevant Arab-American community. This is not helped by the behavior of seedy characters, such as the so-called head of the Islamic community in the U.S., Abdel Rahman al-Amoudi, who recently confessed to collecting millions of dollars from Libyan leader Moammar al-Gadhafi to mount a conspiracy to kill Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia. He is going to jail after soiling the name of all Arab-Americans.
Many Arabs and Muslims will say that talking to American Jews is tantamount to capitulating and admitting defeat in the 50-year-long war over Palestine. The fact is that this "war" has already been lost. Just look at the lamentable conditions in Palestinian society. American Jews are a diverse, powerful, and focused community. Many among them are fair and moderate and will not insist on crushing the other side, knowing they have already won. American Jews have made it repeatedly clear they agree on one thing: the need to assure the safety of Israel. There is nothing wrong with that, as Arabs and Muslims, similarly, claim that their main interest is the well-being of the Palestinians, and now that of their Iraqi brethren.
By showing respect and engaging American Jews, Anwar Sadat secured the return of the entire Sinai Peninsula and a grant program for Egypt that has paid a total of $50 billion in financial and military grants since 1979. (Beirut Daily Star)