Wednesday, June 8, 2011

James Zogby and His One Issue Column

James Zogby, as we know, is the head of an organization that takes polls of the Arab world, both in America and elsewhere. Somewhere along the line, I guess, he decided that he was going to function as a spokesperson for the Arabs in the US at least, and his articles on the Huffington Post seem to indicate this. His latest is particularly informative, as it is titled "Letter from the Arab World." Well, there is quite a lot going on in the Arab world right now. Uprisings, violence, Syria alone could probably fill the whole column. Yet what is the only thing that Dr. Zogby chooses to talk about?
"I am writing from the Middle East where I am catching an earful about last month's dueling speeches between President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. To say that majorities here express deep disappointment in American leadership would not be accurate.

"This negative attitude was reinforced in the fall of 2009 when the administration appeared to back away from what Arabs had felt was a White House insistence on an Israeli settlement freeze...

"It is interesting to note, however, that in every country polled, very high up on the list of issues on which Arabs feel the U.S. can be helpful is in resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict....
"We too often have failed to understand the deep historical and even emotional place "Palestine" holds in the Arab psyche -- America's standing in the Arab World is largely shaped by our performance on that issue."

Okay you get the idea. The entire article is like this. Syria and Libya are not mentioned at all, Egypt is only mentioned twice.  Dr. Zogby chooses instead to fill of his space with the same old same old about Israel and the Palestinians. And if anything, the Arab Spring has shown that the I-P conflict is not the be all and end all of what is happening in the Middle East.

I find it very very difficult to believe that this was simply the results of Dr. Zogby's pollings, that no one was talking about the deaths of hundreds of people in Syria. My guess is that he went with this instead because he knew it was a nice and safe issue, and that he could criticize America without advocating invading another country. No doubt the Huffington Post didn't mind, they could always use another article about Israel and the Palestinians. They know what gets them clicks.

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