Iowa City Press-Citizen - Online
Posted by Iowa City Press-Citizen - Online on March 25, 2012 in News Clips
�The bottom line is this: Listen to Arab voices, and hear what they are saying, not just what the pundits are thinking,� Jim Zogby concludes in his 2010 book, �Arab Voices: What They Are Saying to Us, and Why It Matters.�
Zogby � founder and president of the Washington, D.C.-based Arab American Institute and senior adviser to the Zogby International polling firm � has spent a career trying to bridge the gap between what Americans think of Arabs and what Arabs think of Americans. In �Arab Voices,� he provides detailed analysis and a personal response to the polling data of what people in Morocco, Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and other nations think about U.S. policy and the American people.
Printed before the 2011 uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Syria and other nations, �Arab Voices� describes how events over the past decade have set the stage for what�s been happening over the past year. And Zogby has concerns for how the U.S. will react to the changes � or lack of positive changes � that have resulted from the political turmoil.
�Listen, don�t lecture,� is the simple advice that Zogby consistently gives to U.S. diplomats when dealing with Arab and other predominately Muslim nations, such as Iran. Unfortunately, it�s a piece of advice that most diplomats have been unable to follow in the past, and Zogby isn�t very optimistic that the Obama administration will follow it any better.
And the situation in the Middle East has worsened in recent months as the chest-thumping rhetoric between Israel and Iran has heated up and as Republican presidential candidates in the U.S. likewise have ramped up the war-like rhetoric in discussing how the U.S. should intervene.
As Zogby has observed in his most recent lecture tour � which stopped Wednesday in Iowa City ��The region is a tinderbox, and it is as if everyone is too busy playing with matches to think of the consequences.�
Instead, as Zogby wrote in a recent column, �it would be wise to call a halt to the escalating rhetoric for an attack on Iran; recognize the real danger posed by Iran to its own people and to its neighbors; stop enabling the Israeli and Iranian game of �chicken� with each other, when the unintended consequences of their continued dance with death will be felt not only by themselves, but by so many others; and develop
a sane approach to dealing with a problem that must be faced and can�t simply be bombed or threatened away.�
Zogby, who has visited Iowa often in the past year, is calling on practical and pragmatically-minded Iowans to pressure their Congressmen and senators to seek out such a �sane approach� rather than continue to throw verbal matches on a political tinderbox.
We can�t agree more.
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