Arab And Muslim Bashing As A Political Tool
In 2003, a series of advertisements appeared on College campus newspapers by a group calling itself "CampusTruth.org". The ads from these groups were overtly racist and inflammatory. All ads juxtapose two pictures and a caption. In one advertisement, the picture on eth left is of an Israeli athlete with the caption on top: Israeli school children hero. The picture on the right is of a gun toting Palestinian militant and you guessed it: Palestinian school children's hero. Underneath it says: "There is two sides to each story but only one truth." The "campustruth" website was registered by Marcella Rosen
Under Organization name "One Truth Foundation" (900 Fifth Avenue, NY, NY,10021, Tel 212-585-1581, MRosen911@aol.com). Rosen is Director of "The Rosen Group" an advertising/media company in New York with over a billion dollars in advertisement business for the likes of Proctor and Gamble, General Motors. She has served as a trustee of Barnard College and as director of the "Citizens Committee" for NY. She is married to David G. Sacks who is director and past president of the Seagram Co. as well as past president of UJA/Federation of New York, and Vice President of CJF).
This extremely well financed series of ads has been rejected by some school papers (in fact according to Rosen herself in an article in CAMERA about half of the papers). The Daily Illini published both letters denouncing the ads and a letter from Marcella Rosen defending it (Dec. 5, 2002)
The ads are produced by professional propagandists who are used to walking the fine line of libel and thus they certainly had their lawyers go over it. The results are ads that promote racism without being challengeable on the fine point of racism. One ad juxtaposes pictures about the World Trade Center attacks and uses: that says that "Israelis mourn" while "Palestinians celebrate." There were of course both Israeli and Palestinians (handful on both sides) who indeed celebrated. The absence of words like "all" or "the" obviously protects the advertisers from charges of overt racism. But certainly if one was to switch things around and put a picture of a mangled Palestinian child saying "Jews celebrate this", no paper would publish the ad and a major uproar would happen.
Arab stereotyping is a consistent feature of Hollywood movies and plays a significant role in advancing Zionist agendas. Some in the Arab American community call this the three B syndrome: Arabs in the media are portrayed as either bombers, belly dancers, or billionaires. The history of this is now 100 years long. Thomas Edison made a short film in 1897 for his patented Kinetoscope in which an “Arab” woman dances to seduce a male audience. The blib was called “Fatima Dances” and is illustrative of the Belly dancer syndrome. The trend has shifted in stereotypes over the years and was predominated by the “billionaires” for a time especially during the oil crises in the seventies. However, in the last thirty some years, the predominant stereotype by far has been the “Arab bombers.” In the latest movies “G. I. Jane” and “Operation Condor” viewers chant as a hero blows away Arabs marauding attackers.
Demi Moore plays a Navy SEAL officer in the hit G. I. Jane gaining her stripes and feminist zeal, while killing Arabs. In “Operation Condor” starring Jackie Chan, we have Arabs as villains and a money grubbing inn-keeper (no good Arabs). Another scene shows Arabs praying and then cuts to an auction where Chan’s women companions are being auctioned. The author Jack Shaheen has spent year investigating these trends and this is well documented in his book “The TV Arab.” According to Shaheen over 21 major moves released in the last 10 years shows our military killing Arabs. This includes such “hits” (pardon the pun) as Iron Eagle, Death Before Dishonor, Navy SEALs, Patriot Games, the American President, Delta Force 3, Executive Decision etc. Not since the heyday of the cowboys killing Indian streak of films have we had such an epidemic. New York columnist Russell Baker wrote “Arabs are the last people except Episcopalians whom Hollywood feels free to offend en masse.”
It is very interesting that a lot of what we see as offensive is released by subsidiaries of Disney (a so called family value company run by Mike Eisner). It is not surprising then that Disney and Operation Condor received a “Dishonor Award” at the this year’s national convention of the American Arab Anti-discrimination Committee (ADC). The ADC has been at the forefront in combating stereotypes and negative portrayal of Arabs in the media. The successes are there but the challenge is very large indeed. Some in the Arab community in the US believe that there is a widespread effort now to create the “Muslim terror” as the replacement enemy now that communism is not a threat. In other words to justify our continued massive military and the billions of dollars we send to Israel every year, we need a demonstrable enemy who will not go away. Israel now emphasizes that this danger of terrorism is more serious than military threats from any country in the Middle East. It is an ironic twist of events. We now minimize state sponsored terrorism (such as that which Israel, Turkey, and other allies engage in) and portray the threat in terms of religious and ethnic groups. The Arab community in the US feels especially vulnerable because the energy and center of the Anti-Arab and anti-Muslim media movements are concentrated here. How else would we explain that the New York Times runs a cartoon with a bomb-wielding mean-looking Arab and a caption that reads “Orthodox.. conservative...reform... what’s the DIFFERENCE.” Such cartoons have not been rare in Europe since the Nazi era. The harm is not only psychological (insult to a culture or a religion) but helps feed into actions that are physically harmful. Didn’t we see this before, dehumanizing a group first before attacking it. Thus the recent law passed in congress regarding airport “profiling” which is really stereotyping and racism. The idea is that you can identify “risky” people based on the countries they traveled to in the past (thus Arab Americans) and search them more thoroughly than the “normal” people. Yes, your impression of a line at the airport for Arabs and Muslims and a line for others.
The double standards and hypocrisy of the media is everywhere. How is it that the Palestinians, the victims of mass expulsions and ethnic cleansing, three million of them are now refugees in Diaspora (prevented from the universally accepted right of return), how is it that they are portrayed collectively as terrorists bent on killing Jews. Interestingly, Israel, the US, and Arab countries pursue terrorists aggressively when they are Arabs but we somehow let state terrorism off the hook. Even individual criminal acts and terrorism done by others go unpunished. Over 12 years ago a letter bomb killed Alex Odeh, ADC regional director in California. Two suspects fled to Israel and the FBI has a reward, but no political pressure is applied on Israel to extradite them. Why couldn’t we apply economic sanctions on Israel to comply with UN resolutions but instead our politicians send Israel 3-5 billion a year of your tax dollars.
The Arab community in North America is vibrant and thriving but is in distress over these issues. We are doctors, business people, engineers, scientists, judges, humanitarians, advocates for human rights, and in short a productive segment of the fabric of this great society. This great western civilization would not have developed without the influence of the Arab civilization (just think of the bridge and continuity that the Arab civilization had between ancient European civilizations and the renaissance of western civilization after the “dark ages”). Today, people rarely hear of this history or of Arab heritage of the twentieth century Arab Americans: Tiffany, John Sununu, Danny Thomas, Marlo Thomas, Casey Kasem, F. Murray Abraham, Paul Anka, Khalil Gibran and countless others whose names are familiar but whose culture and background are constantly maligned in our “enlightened main stream” media. Let us hope that it will not take another hundred years of education to undo the damage already done. Jack Shaheen and Sam Husseini of ADC tell us that unfortunately, even if no more stereotyping films are produced the backlog of reruns will be very large indeed. A dent in this problem will be made only if decent people would join hands (with such groups as ADC) and would call and write the media outlets to complain every time such a film or event is shown.