Henry Reske and Kathleen Walter

Posted by Henry Reske and Kathleen Walter on February 05, 2011 in News Clips

Mideast Arabs don’t hate the United States — and they actually have much in common with average U.S. residents, Arab American Institute President James Zogby tells Newsmax.TV. They admire Americans’ values of freedom and democracy, as well as the U.S. culture, he said.

“The reality is they go to bed at night worried about their jobs, wake in the morning thinking about whether their kids get the education they need, whether they’ll have healthcare for their parents,” said Zogby, author of “Arab Voices: What They Are Saying to Us and Why It Matters.”

“They’re really like us. When they come home and watch television at the end of the day they watch movies, and soap operas and game shows. They want to be entertained. And church attendance rates in America are about the same as mosque attendance rates in the Middle East.”

Zogby, a senior analyst with his brother John’s polling firm, Zogby International, based his book on more than a decade of polling data drawn from across the Arab world. Although 80 percent of Americans believe that Arabs don’t like us because they hate U.S. values, the actuality is that 65 percent of Arabs say they love the U.S. values of freedom and democracy, as well as the nation’s culture.

A prime message in the book is that America must listen to voices in a region that has cost the United States thousands of lives and billions of dollars, Zogby said, adding that stereotypical views have entered into U.S. foreign policy and distorted reality.

“We can go into Iraq and depose the dictator and democracy will flourish and will spread across the Middle East. No it doesn’t,” he said. “In fact, what it does is create chaos and bitterness and anger at America. So I think if we listened more we wouldn’t make the mistakes we make.”

Zogby said 75 percent of Arabs support a two-state solution to the clash between Israel and the Palestinians — contrary to the myth that they all want to see Israel disappear. However, more than half of Arabs don’t believe it will occur because they don’t believe the United States and Israel will take the steps to make it happen.

Like much of the world, Arabs are nervous about Iran and find the country a source of instability in the Mideast. Nonetheless, Zogby said the Arab view of Iran’s nuclear programs is to leave the country alone.

“If you let Israel have 200 to 400 nuclear weapons, then it’s going to create a situation where public opinion, angry at Israel for what it does, angry at America for supporting Israel, is going to say, hell no, you can’t stop these governments from doing it because you’re allowing it to happen on the other side,” he said. “So I think the lack of consistency in our approach to this issue has created both resentment of us and also a support base for Iran that Iran doesn’t deserve.”

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