A Nonviolent Action to Stamp Out Extremism and Violence
The failure of the Arab world to engage in strategic communications and effective public relations has made all Arabs an easy target for exploitation and unjustified criticism.
Our just causes, from liberating Palestine to confronting the lies about Islam, have suffered tremendously because of this failure.
As a result of our absence, the void has been filled by three loud voices: the biased mainstream American news media, the Arab extremists who distort the fundamental truths of Islam for their selfish, anti-Islamic causes, and Israel's extremist government, one of the most brutal and violent regimes in the Middle East.
But it is not too late to marginalize the fanatics, like Daesh (ISIS, ISIL) and al-Qaida, and counter the clever public relations Israel uses to disguise its brutality and undemocratic oppression of Christians and Muslims.
I recognize the concept of "the Arab World" is misleading. The truth is that despite a shared culture, Arabs live in 22 different countries enjoying numerous national identities and religious diversity.
Yet, there are many nonviolent actions moderate Arabs can embrace to regain the higher ground and counter the racism of the Western news media, and the violence of Daesh and Israel.
Strategic communications and public relations can be powerful weapons in the war against injustice. One way is to place powerful messages of justice and freedom on postage stamps.
Every Arab country should create a postage stamp that honors the victims of extremist violence by Daesh, al-Qaida and Israel, and counter the lies propagated by the biased Western news media, especially in America.
The Arab world can jointly issue commemorative stamps in each of the 22 Arab countries that share a common theme. The stamps can make a powerful statement about the need for justice.
One of the most powerful, non-violent messages would be to commemorate the victims of Arab and Israeli extremism.
More importantly, it is a means of bringing the vast majority of peace-loving Arabs and the small minority of Jews in Israel who reject their government's extremism together with one voice.
Stamps could include the statement in English and Arabic "Stamp out Extremism, Stamp out Violence," and commemorate victims of extremist violence, such as:
—Jordanian Pilot, Moath al-Kasasbeh, who was murdered by Daesh, the terrorist organization that falsely claims that it represents Islam. The stamp would include al-Kasasbeh's photograph.
—The people of Gaza brutalized by Israeli occupation. It could feature a photograph of one of the hundreds of children killed by Israeli soldiers this past summer.
—Americans killed by extremism, including: Rachel Corrie, killed by Israeli soldiers while trying to stop the Israeli demolition of a Palestinian civilian home on March 16, 2003; Muhammad Abu Khdeir, burned alive by Israeli settlers on July 2, 2014; and Peter Kassig beheaded by Daesh on Nov. 16, 2014.
—The Holy Arab city of Jerusalem, which remains under occupation. Jerusalem is a city where the rights of Muslims and Christians are continually brutalized. It should be internationalized.
—Another would showcase the faces of three people, representing Muslims, Christians and Jews, as the true face of democracy and the belief that we can live together with respect.
This postage stamp campaign would rally the righteous and the moderates together around powerful and important symbols countering extremism and redefine the true war on terrorism.
Bringing the Arab world moderates together would create a clarion call to drown out the voices of extremists and terrorists. It might even empower the increasingly silent voices of the Israeli peace movement, which is disappearing faster than Middle East Christians.
The Arab countries might even go one step further by requiring that these stamps be placed in every passport for citizens and diplomats.
The "Stamp out Extremism, Stamp out Violence" campaign would create a powerful unified voice that accurately reflects the Arab and the Middle East, a voice that reinforces demands for justice and an end to violence.
The pen is mightier than the sword, but more powerful yet is to use injustice to create a unified movement that is missing in the Middle East.
Ray Hanania is an award-winning Palestinian American columnist managing editor of The Arab Daily News at www.TheArabDailyNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @RayHanania. To find out more about Ray Hanania and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit www.creators.com.
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