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The land of the free? An Arab migrant questioning democracy in Western media

The land of the free? An Arab migrant questioning democracy in Western media

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إقرأ باللغة العربية:

حين يسقط بلد الهجرة من عينك، أي بلد يبقى لك؟

The stifled rights of Palestinians and the bloody events of the past week have made me lose my respect for my adopted homeland. It has made such a resounding fall from grace in my eyes that leaves me no room to deny my emotions or delude myself. If your homeland doesn't stand by you or feel for you, then what use is it?

From public opinion that blindly adheres to an astonishingly bewildering and sensational approach to random conversations with strangers that reveal an unsettling blend of ignorance laced with hatred (or hatred laced with ignorance) to official complicity, denial, fabrication, and concealment accompanied by official, moral, financial, and military support, to the favoring of one life over another, to the darkest atrocities in regional and global wars, all of this has dug a chasm between myself, the immigrant from the Arab world, and my new industrialized, young country, to the point that it has pierced my core of trust.

How can I love this new, modern country?

How can I love a country that demonstrates selective, limited, and one-sided compassion and concern?

How can I accept its rejection of the rights of Palestinians, the Palestinian cause, or any other just cause, merely because it opposes those events and issues, without seeing this as a rejection of my very essence?

When the Syrian war erupted, my presence in the United States was urgent and new. My process of social integration was an urgent necessity, still untainted by the idealized notions and fantasies of the American dream. I went back to social media as a hungry ghost, seeking news from the locals rather than the media's polished words and narratives.

The stifled rights of Palestinians and the recent bloody events have made me lose my respect for my adopted homeland, making such a resounding fall from grace in my eyes that I can't lie to myself anymore. If your homeland doesn't stand by you, what use is it?

The only escape from the television screens and the voices proclaiming their injustices was a return to my roots. When the August 4th tragedy and the devastating port explosion occurred, I sought empathy from the new community that I had recently joined as an American citizen. I launched donation campaigns for the benefit of three non-governmental social organizations and managed to collect a decent sum of money, contributing to the surface treatment of the socio-economic issues in the suffering community. My effort to do something, rather than passively watching from a distant foreign land that widens the gap between immigrants and their homeland during natural or orchestrated disasters, proved to be successful.

However, the sense of solidarity I encountered created the illusion of brotherhood that did not seem far-fetched or impossible. I say "illusion" because it failed in its first test, a simple one. Despite the Middle East always being characterized by complexity, the essence of the question persists: How far does your sense of humanity extend, and where does it stand?

The media as a mouthpiece for politics

The first illusion was shattered through the coverage of recent events by the American media and historically respected institutions such as The New York Times, where they referred to defenseless Palestinian victims as "dead", as if their deaths had come naturally, while they said the Israelis were "killed". This pattern then continued with the selective coverage of events, where the media focused on stories that suited their agendas and its coverage painted the Israeli ally exclusively as a victim, while they skillfully formulated headlines to be provocative and shocking. They preempted scenarios that unveiled ulterior motives, manipulated evidence to conform to their desired narrative, and presented one-sided humanitarian stories designed to influence public opinion, even if they're illogical. These stories are aimed to evoke sympathy, obscure the truth, whitewash the narrative, and solidify opinions and stereotypes that paint the Arab population negatively, all the while portraying the Israelis as an invincible military force on one hand, and as innocent, victimized people on the other.

American media and historically respected institutions such as The New York Times referred to defenseless Palestinian victims as "dead", as if their deaths had come about naturally, while they said the Israelis were "killed".

Isn't such media being anti-Semitic too, or has this term also become monopolized, and these institutions are now beyond suspicion?

Why do we only hear, read, or see one perspective, one media, and one loud voice? Where have the terms that individual Americans and institutions hold dear gone? Terms and rights like 'freedom of thought and expression', the same rights that are enshrined in the US Constitution. What about media responsibility, accountability, and legal scrutiny? Where is the democracy they want to spread throughout the world, whether the world wants it or not?

Does self-sufficiency create ignorance?

The United States boasts about its ability to be self-sufficient, owing to its size, stature, and position, along with its domineering and hegemonic relations with peer nations and third-world countries, the term it has branded us with long ago.

In an informal survey I conduct every semester, I find that most college students in the United States haven't left, visited, or lived in a state other than their home state throughout their lives. What's intriguing is that a significant portion of their families haven't ventured beyond their own state either, for various reasons, including the country's self-sufficiency, size, and location.

At the same time, many of those occupying prominent and medium-sized public platforms strive to encourage American citizens to explore beyond the country's borders, to learn, grow, and open their minds. Paradoxically, the Arab world seems to know more about Americans than Americans know about Arabs.

We've witnessed the openness of Americans toward Ukraine. During the Russian war in Ukraine, numerous Americans found themselves sympathizing with Ukrainians, eager to assist in any way possible. The symbol of a sunflower against a blue backdrop, signifying Ukraine and its cause, gained widespread recognition. Americans began to vocalize their condemnation of Russian aggression against Ukraine. They began to delve into Ukraine's history, follow its news, and develop a genuine interest in its affairs. Books and articles detailing Ukraine's struggles against the formidable Russian adversary captured the attention of newly awakened Americans, resulting in their fervent criticism across various professional institutions, universities, schools, places of worship, and social gatherings.

I wonder why Americans don't approach the Palestinian issue in a similar fashion. Why do they rely solely on the same sources for their news? What freedom of opinion is there when expression and media are one-sided? Or when people obtain their news from social media platforms originally programmed to reinforce anti-Arab and anti-Palestinian perspectives? And influence those still harboring doubts to adopt the same opposing stance against Arabs, Palestinians, and their supporters?

Due to the official stance of the United States, we find that positions hostile towards Palestinian supporters manifest in being fired from jobs, facing threats of termination and accusations of treason, especially in professional institutions and universities

Even if the United States remains this self-absorbed, citizens still bear the responsibility to educate themselves, particularly in the midst of the above-mentioned manipulation in the media landscape.

There are vast options of diversity and difference in today's media landscape. With a simple click of a button, we can read local news written by Arab voices, or engage with people openly, sitting down with neighbors from different nationalities and hearing their stories straight from the source.

Penalizing alternative opinions and accusations of treason

Due to the official stance of the United States as an official ally and protector of the Israeli entity, we find that accountability and positions hostile towards the supporters of Gaza and Palestine manifest in being fired from jobs, facing threats of termination and accusations of treason, especially in professional institutions and universities.

For instance, the website contains information on a large group of pro-Palestinian supporters who are viewed as opponents of the Israeli entity. It presents their names, photos, and personal information, such as their full name and the names of the universities, schools, and workplaces they've worked in, in addition to full profiles detailing everything they have written and expressed.

How can I love a country that exhibits selective, limited and one-sided compassion? How can I accept it rejecting the rights of Palestinians without seeing it a rejection of my very essence? When your adopted country turns against your people, where do you go?

The danger lies in the impact and repercussions of such a website. Many American institutions prohibit hiring professors and students with such viewpoints after they graduate, solely due to their opinions and opposition to Israel, among other political stances.

This electronic "fear mongering" and smear campaign disrupts the lives of Arab Americans in a frightening, arbitrary, unfair, and unconstitutional manner. It is just one of the tools funded by Zionists to silence alternative voices.

In conclusion, and with absolute regret that my words may not fully convey, I have come to realize that I am now orphaned, bereft of a homeland.

* The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Raseef22

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