Israel Through Arab Eyes: An Unfiltered View
The prevailing narrative about Israel in Western discourse is markedly different from the views commonly held in the Arab world. For the vast majority of Arabs, Israel is seen as an illegitimate occupier, masquerading as a legitimate nation through the construction of settlements on land they consider not rightfully theirs.
This perception is deeply rooted in the consciousness of the Arab populace, numbering around 450 million in the Middle East, and is often likened to echoes of colonialism and apartheid. This stark contrast in perspectives highlights a significant divide in understanding and interpretation between the West and the Arab world regarding Israel’s role and legitimacy.
It is essential to clearly establish that autocratic leaders in the region normalizing relations with Israel have minimal, if any, noticeable impact on the lives of the local populace. This reality is often overlooked or unrecognized, particularly in the United States. This oversight underscores a significant gap in understanding the actual effects of diplomatic maneuvers on the daily experiences of people in these areas.
While I present these views, it’s important to note that they are reflective of a broader sentiment prevalent across the Arab world, rather than solely my personal beliefs.
Western media typically portrays Israel as a robust democracy. From the Arab viewpoint, this image is deeply flawed. Israel’s democracy, as perceived by many in the Arab world, is more accurately a hybrid, fragile, and fragmented system. This perspective, which has been gaining traction since as early as 2021, is rooted in the nation’s continued occupation and colonization of Palestinian territories — actions that fundamentally clash with the core principles of liberal democracy.
A critical aspect of this democratic shortfall, as seen through Arab eyes, is the stark absence of equality. The Arab minority in Israel faces a palpable disparity in political rights as compared to the Jewish majority. This inequity highlights systemic flaws within the Israeli democratic structure itself, reinforcing the Arab belief in the country’s democratic inadequacy.
From this perspective, the unwavering support that Western nations, especially the United States and European countries, provide to Israel is viewed as a continual approval of actions that are regarded by some as an ongoing genocide.
There is a notable change in perception among the younger generation, often referred to as ‘zoomers’ – those born in the late 1990s and early 2000s. This demographic group, less influenced by the political and propaganda-driven narratives of previous eras, presents a fresh perspective on human responses to Israel’s actions towards Palestinians. This shift suggests a new understanding of the situation, one that is less colored by long-standing political biases.
Social media, despite its tendency to censor Palestinian advocacy, has nevertheless galvanized millions of young Americans and Westerners into action. This surge in activism highlights a core belief among many in the Arab world: the unfiltered power of truth can surpass the effects of lobbying and political maneuvering. In the context of the Middle East, the attack by Hamas on Israel on October 7 is viewed by some as a successful act by what they consider ‘freedom fighters,’ though this perception is not universally held and is subject to significant debate and controversy.
The continuation of the current Western narrative about Israel not only fuels resentment but also exacerbates the strained relations between the Arab world and the West. This approach, often viewed as unsustainable by Arabs, misrepresents realities and alienates those who value authenticity and justice.
Despite the challenges, there remains a sense of hope for change and reconciliation. Central to this is the need for the United States, more than any other nation, to confront difficult realities about Israel’s actions and its own role in supporting them. Many in the Arab world are left questioning whether the U.S. is prepared to embark on this demanding path towards fostering a more equitable and just international community. This introspection and potential shift in policy are seen as crucial steps in the journey toward lasting peace and understanding.
The emergence of a new, unbiased generation offers hope for a world that aligns more closely with the values of equity and justice. It’s essential to recognize that no one is born with hate; it is a learned behavior. The continuous narrative and actions of the U.S., perceived as biased and unjust by many in the Arab world, inadvertently teach and reinforce feelings of animosity. To foster a more harmonious global community, the U.S. must reevaluate its approach, ensuring it does not contribute to the cycle of hatred and instead lead by example in promoting understanding and respect.