Arabs: What They Believe and What They Value Most (2002)

The idea for this study came during a conversation with a prominent Arab thinker. We were discussing the profound gap in understanding between the U.S. and the Arab world that had become so painfully apparent following Sept. 11, 2001. We noted how, in an effort to bridge this gap, the U.S. had launched a public diplomacy campaign to help the Arab world better understand the American reality and the American people.

My friend observed that “We, too, should engage the U.S. with our own campaign, so that Americans could better understand the Arabs.” Then he paused and noted, “But there is a problem…do we really know who we are? Can we even give an answer to that question? And if we attempted such a campaign, whose answers would we use to describe our reality?”

These questions are, in fact, difficult and sensitive ones to ask and answer. For some, the answers are matters of strict faith or political ideology. For them, there can be no doubt, no lack of certainty to the answers given.

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