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Arab Voices

Zogby is the author of the book Arab Voices and he is also the founder and president of the Arab American Institute and contributes weekly in a Washington Watch column that appears on some Arab news papers.  In the book Arab voices, the author examines where the US has gone wrong with its relations with the Arab world. The author discusses what the Americans don’t know about the Arab world by examining different myths that have shaped the American discourse about Arabs. This essay will do a summary of the book and specifically show how it the book relates to the present day international relation and politics and its relevance to today’s issues.

In the book, Zogby who is the founder and president of Arab America Institute based in Washington challenges five myths which according to him have distorted America’s perception of Arabs. He starts with the first myth that Americans perceive all Arabs to be the same. The second myth that he tries to dispel is the denial by the West of non-existent of an Arab world. He even supports these allegations with hard evidence; a poll conducted by his Zogby International by his brother John.  The poll was conducted in such countries from Morocco in the west to the U.A.E in the East and they revealed that the Arab world has a rich culture and a varied landscape besides a diverse sub-culture. According to the author, they show a sense of belonging to a greater Arab world.

There is tremendous diversity in the different cultures in the Arab world. Every country has its own uniqueness but at the same time, there is a sense of commonness like the language as well as common sensibility. He asserts that although Arabs are diverse like any people on earth, in times of calamities they come together to console each other. He gives an example of palatine and Iraq when it was invaded by America, the Arabs came together and with one language they spoke and resonated together with certain words that have special and powerful meanings to them. (Uri Dromi).

The third myth he addresses is that of false perception that Arabs despises the US, the values it stands for and its ways of life. Zogby goes to blame the American media for the third myth. According to the polls, the notion that Americans have that Arabs “go to bed hating America, go to bed at night hating America, wake up in the morning hating Israel and during the day, they watch TV news fueling the hatred…” is all but misplaced. They got their own business and families to think about and watch TV to be sure. (Uri Dromi).

The fourth myth that Zogby discounts is the idea that Arabs are driven by the fanaticism. According to him, Hollywood has depicted Arabs as terrorists or corrupt oil millionaires. But according to opinion polls and surveys conducted in the Middle East mosque attendance and church attendance rates in the US are approximately the same. Thus Arab fanaticism has only been driven by America through Hollywood. But of course there are Arab terrorists and oil sheiks, he questions whether a black person on TV is only a criminal or are all Jewish people shyster business people. He asserts that these are only stereotypes and these stereotype images stick. (Uri Dromi).

The last myth that he deals with is that Arabs reject reforms and will never change unless they are pushed to, by the West. But data from the Middle East countries shows that the people there want social as well as political changes. He further recommends that Americans should learn from from America doing business in the Middle East. He suggests that America should be there politics the way they do their business; listen to the other side in order to understand what the other side wants. He commends business people and the way they conduct business in the Arab world and hope that politicians will take a leaf from that example and conduct politics like the business people conduct their business. (Uri Dromi).

Finally, Zogby points out that the misperception will impact the next Americans generation negatively as he complains that the US education system teaches little about the Arab world. He suggests at reducing the knowledge gap between the Arabs and the US so that false US perceptions may be debunked. (Uri Dromi).

The book’s relation to present day international relations and politics

The Middle East is one region that the west has never understood. According to the US, it is one part of the world that harbors terrorism and therefore need be attacked to abolish terrorism and encourage an ambitious democratic reform. The book Arab Voices asks questions, collects the answers and gives out results and answers that will help the west see clearly and understand the middle east. The book brings into relief the myths, assumptions and the biases that have held the West from understanding people from the East. (Mirazi, Hafez, et al).

According to the Zogby; Cross-Cultural Understanding, he says that he had examined the US for a long time on how it has too often gotten it wrong and concludes that by looking at the government agencies and programs, media outlets and NGOs that are getting it right, he highlights the lessons they provide that can show a way to a more promising and prosperous future. The Arab voices carried out data on more than a decade of polling in the US and across the Arab world about what really Americans think about the Arab people. The polling by the book was intended to allow the Arabs describe themselves and their attitudes towards the current relations and situation, give their values and aspirations and their political concerns. (Mirazi, Hafez, et al).

The book’s central quest is to build bridges between the Arab world and the West and especially between the Arabs and the Americans. Therefore, the book’s primary audience is Americans and Arabs with information and insights based on scientific polling. The polls provide a framework for the book and buttresses Zogby’s observations on what the Arabs think. The book simply insists that both sides should listen to each other or they will be behaving in a counterproductive way. In turn also, Arabs need to understand Americans in order to counteract the negative stereotypes planted on them. (Mirazi, Hafez, et al).

Overall, the book:  Arab Voices What They Are Saying to Us, and Why It Matter is a sane and reasonable call for sanity and reason not only between Arabs and Americans but the whole world in generall to bolster peace and understanding between different nations with different culture. We can only hope of some impact.