We need to communicate better [Archives:2004/783/Viewpoint]

October 21 2004

We, as Muslims and Arabs, have a terrible problem. We have plights like any other nation. We have difficulties too. But what we lack is the ability to show that we have them.
Last week, I became more convinced than any other time in the past that our major problem is our inability to speak up and convey our point of view in a proper manner. I came to conclude how correct I am in this respect when I discovered that the last documentary released recently about the life
The Western audience watching a recent documentary looked shocked and amazed as if they knew about the atrocities in Israel for the first time ever. Many of them were in tears while others expressed regret for not knowing about those incidents before. They were shocked even more when they knew that the cameraman who filmed the documentary was himself killed by the Israeli forces.
This striking example demonstrates that the facts in the film were not known to most of the viewers, making the larger-scale assumption that billions around the world also do not know those facts, particularly those in the developed world.
Having said that, one must also understand that the fault is not in those viewers, but it is rather in us, Arabs and Muslims who failed to use the means we have to present the facts to the international community in an appealing and convincing manner.
It is indeed a pity to see Brits and other Westerners making documentaries about the miseries that our brothers in Palestine are facing, while we Arabs fail to even broadcast those documentaries on our own TV stations.
It may be lack of vision or capabilities in our governments, our media, and our communities, but no matter what the reason behind our poor public relations performance, I believe we are now obliged to identify the problem and correct it so as our voice can be heard.
Let us try from here, and in this column, to present some facts to our Western readers who may know about the atrocities committed against Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, but who may not know enough about the murdering of journalists and peace activities by Israeli forces.
Let me remind them that more than a year ago and within a period of seven weeks, one British and one American peace activist were killed by the Israeli army in Rafah, which is located south of occupied Gaza Strip.
A second Briton was shot in the head leaving him brain-dead. In two of the cases the Israeli army is being blamed for murder; the third is considered “attempted murder.”
An Israeli military bulldozer also crushed the 23-year-old American peace activist Rachel Corrie, who was the first to die, as she tried to prevent it from demolishing a Palestinian doctor's home.
British photographer Tom Hurndall, 22, was left brain dead after being shot in the head by an Israeli soldier on April 11. British cameraman James Miller, 34, was shot by an Israeli sniper as he left a house with two other journalists on May 2.
For those who may think that I am biased, I must remind them that I also condemn suicide attacks that indiscriminately kill innocent people including women and children. However, it is a well-known fact that the publicity that such suicidal attacks take are much more than those news items that talk about the regular daily killings happening to Palestinian.
This is only a small portion of stocks of facts that exemplify the wrong-doings happening in Israel against innocent people. I don't assume that American networks would like to publish stories on those events, but nevertheless, it is the right of the American public to know what is truly going on.
We can start letting them know from here, and with collaborative efforts I am sure we can help make the world realize our strife by enhancing our public relations.