U.S. support for Israelis over Palestinians, President Bush's
crusade' against the Taliban and the presence of American
troops in Saudi Arabia contribute to the rising anti-American
sentiment in the Middle East, Yvonne Haddad, a professor at
Georgetown University's Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding,
told a PRSA symposium on Oct. 31.
Dr. Yvonne Haddad, left,
and Lee Hamilton
"Every city and town in Palestine has a ground zero,"
noted Haddad. While Palestinian suicide bombers are given
front page coverage in U.S. papers, Israeli tank aggression
is hidden in the back pages, said Haddad. "There is a
distinct feeling of a Judeo-Christian conspiracy against Muslims."
She called the U.S. military presence in Saudi Arabia and
U.S. policy toward Iraq motivating factors behind the terrorist
attacks of Sept. 11. Haddad faulted President Bush for the
use of "crusade" to describe the war on terror.
That term led many Muslims to believe that Americans were
waging war on Islam.
Haddad explained that many Muslims were offended by the U.S.
destruction of the Taliban in Afghanistan because the Taliban
stood for Islam.
Furthermore, the U.S. explanation that we were trying to
help the Muslim women oppressed by the Taliban actually worked
against us according to Haddad. She explained that Muslim
women have formed their opinion of American women from watching
T.V. reruns of shows like Dynasty and as a result assume American
women to be 'whores.'
In fact, Haddad noted that the Muslim reaction to a Laura
Bush speech in which she stated her desire to help Muslim
women was that Bush should first take care of her own two
daughters before worrying about the plight of Muslim women.
"This Israeli/Palestinian issue is poisoning U.S. relations,"
said Clyde Prestowitz, president of the Economic Strategy
Institute and former Commerce Dept. official.
He stressed that the images Muslims are bombarded with via
cable T.V. networks like Al Jazeera reinforce the perception
that the U.S. is not fighting a war against terrorism, but
a war against Islam.
Prestowitz called the Israeli settlements in Palestine 'poison.'
"We are seen as being complicit with the expansion of
these settlements. When we call Ariel Sharon a 'man of peace'
we look bad," said Prestowitz.
He sided with Haddad on the overwhelming negative impact of
the U.S. involvement in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict on
Muslim attitude toward Americans.
According to Denise Gray-Felder, VP of communications for
the Rockefeller Foundation, "Americans persist in operating
like a nation of ignorants." She has noticed in her international
travels that foreignors are far better educated on world affairs
than U.S. peers. She attributes this to a cut back in U.S.
media coverage of foreign news.
Gray-Felder called for a need to lessen the competitive nature
of U.S. language with regard to world affairs and take a more
Lee Hamilton, former congressman from Indiana and director
of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, agreed
with Gray-Felder saying, "We must create a perception
that the U.S. is a benign power."
Clyde Prestowitz, left,
and Denise Gray-Felder
"Style counts. The way you do things in diplomacy means
"Hamilton talked about the air of mistrust that exists
side-by-side with the enormous respect foreigners have for
Hamilton believes there are those that harbor a violent form
of anti-Americanism because of our foreign policy and those
whose anti-Americanism is grounded in resentment of U.S. power,
America is increasingly seen as an 'imperial power' as more
and more U.S. troops are stationed around the world concluded