Mahmoud Salem
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There is a new show on MBC called "On the road in America", where a group of young arabs get into an RV and travel across the nation. The idea is to present the arab world with a more positive image of the US. And it seems to be working, at least on one of them:

Before visiting the United States, Amr disliked the U.S. and worried
everyone would think he was a terrorist. But said he was surprised that
most people were friendly and interested in learning more about him.

Now that Amr is home in Cairo, he is trying to share his new optimistic American perspective with friends and family.

But some remain unconvinced, he said.

The people who are making this show say that it has more credibility because it's privately funded, rather than the US state department initiatives. However, just a quick glance on the Board of Layalena, the company producing the show, can make any good conspiracy theorist' skin crawl:

It was produced by a nonprofit company backed by a string of
Washington heavyweights — Republicans and Democrats — including former
President George H.W. Bush, who aim to fight negative stereotypes of
America in the Arabic-speaking world.

The company, Layalina Productions Inc., has a board that boasts such
names as former secretaries of state Henry Kissinger and James A. Baker
III and former U.S. Representative Lee Hamilton.

Kissinger and Bush. Yeah, that will go well! 

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26 thoughts on “Arab Road Rules

  1. There was an extensive article about this show in the New York Times a while back (January? – when it started in the Mid East). They’re hoping to show it on American T.V. eventually.

  2. How can anyone hate a country they’ve never been to? It’s like saying “I hate carrots” if you’ve never eaten a carrot. And even if you visit a country and dislike it, what does that mean? You dislike the geography? The culture? The political system? Every last resident? It’s all quite silly.

  3. There is much more (ignorant) hatred of the United States from the Middle East than there is (ignorant) hatred of the Middle East from the United States. Conspiracy minded (ignorant) people will believe anything as long as it supports their convoluted irrational mindset. There are plenty of those folks in both places.

    Prior and during WWII the German population was taught to despise democracy and the right to pursue happiness as the individual saw fit by themselves. Of course now they realise they were lied to and wonder what they could have been thinking! The U.S. isn’t perfect for every inhabitant but at least there’s the chance to dream and achieve those dreams.

    As Sir Winston Churchill stated:
    Many forms of Government have been tried, and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of Government except all those others that have been tried from time to time.

    Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy, its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery.

    Some regard private enterprise as if it were a predatory tiger to be shot. Others look upon it as a cow that they can milk. Only a handful see it for what it really is – the strong horse that pulls the whole cart.

    If the human race wishes to have a prolonged and indefinite period of material prosperity, they have only got to behave in a peaceful and helpful way toward one another.

    Sorry, got a little carried away with the Quotes! : )

  4. well Kate, America has visited us with tanks and bombs. and it was really an insightful visit :), this is how large numbers of Arabs preserves America, the big white solder with sunglasses and a machine gun!

  5. Wael – To which country do you refer when you say “America has visited us with tanks and bombs”? Are you Iraqi or, are you using the word “us” in a collective sense?

  6. Actually, tedders, I’ve had quite a different experiece, vis a vis blind hatred of Americans in the Middle East – as an American who’s lived and travelled quite extensively in the Arab Middle East, I have yet to meet anyone, from cab drivers to close friends, who expressed hatred of me because I was an American, or even of Americans in general. While I’ve certainly encountered a large amount of (in my view, quite reasonable) anger regarding American foreign policy in the region and the American government, I’ve also found most people I’ve talked to in the Middle East far better informed about my country than my fellow Americans are about theirs, and quite capable of distinguishing between me and my government. Obviously, this is a gross generalization – I’m not making any broad truth claims, just repeating my own experience.

  7. Man, there are so many people that look exactly the same as these four young people here in North America. I can’t imagine anyone even taking any great notice of them. Now IF they were calling individual Americans ‘infidels’ and blowing themselves up, there may be a problem. Mind you the liberals would probably stand up for their rights to express themselves and somehow present them as the real victims, but hey, medication for these nuts is costly and noboby can make them take it.

  8. Wow, Wael, an entire continent filled with 300 million people visited you, and brought their bombs along? Must have gotten very crowded.

  9. #8 DGS says:
    “I’ve had quite a different experiece, vis a vis blind hatred of Americans in the Middle East”

    That’s quite encouraging to hear, I suppose I could ba as wrong at making sweeping statements as someone who hates America but has never been there!!

  10. #8

    You say that people whom you meet did not hate Americans. I tend to agree with you.
    Majority hate American government but of course American government (republican or democrat) does not represent majority of Americans even if some Americans choose it.
    Many say American democracy is bad, but Americans are not.
    Some despise atheists and gays but that, of course, has nothing to do with Americans who are none of the above.
    Many think majority of americans treat blacks as second hand citizens, but that has nothing to do with you, personally.
    Many muslims look down on females in america who wear short skirts and uncover their arms and think that such behaviour is not decent and shows degradation of women in american society, but that does not concern you, even if you are a female because you are (so they think) different.
    There is not wonder that you did not meet people who hate americans, majority does not, they just hate this or that aspect of american culture, political system or the government , sometimes all of it, but not americans per se. After all americans have no part in any of it.

  11. DGS:

    I’ll second that. From an Arab’s perspective I’ve noticed that within the last few years anti-American sentiment has been solely directed at American Foreign Policy. For instance an average Arab would respond very negatively to names like :” G.W.Bush, Chenney, C.Rice, white house, pentagon, etc. However when asked about the American people the responses you’d get would be:

    1. If they haven’t met any they’d ask you about them and what they think about what their government is doing.
    2. If they have met some, they’ll usually say Americans are nice people but they can’t do much abut what their government is doing “which are the sentiments conveyed by American tourists”.

    There is usually no ill will or sentiment vis-a-vis the American people in general. This cannot be said about the Israeli (Arab and jewish) population though.

  12. Babs, I think Wael is using “we” to mean arabs or muslims in general. ie:

    “When we are wearing traditional arab “long shirts” it might appear to some people in the West that we don’t wear pants.” (collective we)

    as opposed to:

    “We put a bomb on a retarded person and detonated him in the market” (specific we)


    “God dammit. First we were stuck with a dictator who watched movies of people being tortured while he ate dinner, then we have a foreign military in our country and now we have a pointless and avoidable civil war. (Iraqi we)

  13. DGS,

    I second that, from an Arabs perspective I’ve noticed that anti-American sentiment in most of the middle east is directed mostly at American politics in the region. There is overwhelming hatred to American policy figures like George.W.Bush, C.Rice, Dick.Chenney etc. However when asked about the American people most Arabs will usually say Americans are nice people who can’t do much to control their governments foreign policy (which are the sentiments conveyed by American tourist or expats).

    The same however cannot be said about Israel’s (both Jewish and Arab-Israeli) populations. Mostly because of government and religious institution incited anti-semitism.

  14. heh Many of my friends including myself no longer give a rat’s ass whether Arabs like us Americans or not.

    If you like us fine please have a good day, and if you hate us, well Fuck You then Eat Shit and Die Mother Fucker!


  15. Many of my friends including myself no longer give a rat’s ass whether Arabs like us Americans or not.

    If you like us fine please have a good day, and if you hate us, well Fuck You then Eat Shit and Die Mother Fucker!


    eh maybe that waz a little harsh


  16. To those of you that claim that “Arabs” dislike American foreign policy but not American citizens; Do you think “Arabs” would like American foreign policy more or less if the American gov’t cut off all funding for Egypt and Palestine? How about the unprecedented funding to irradicate AIDS to Muslim Africa? Would this make the average “Arab” more or less happy with American foreign policy?

  17. Wael;

    You might want to consider that the biggest mass murderers of Arabs are other Arabs. Ask yourself why Arabs show more rage at American foreign policy, than Saddam’s genocidal antics, or the Lebanese civil war, or the Algerian civil war, or the Syrian’s government’s slaughter of all those civilians in Hama, or …etc etc … By comparison ‘the big white soldier with sunglasses and a machine gun’ has done minimal damage.

  18. Dear Fabian,
    I understand that killing bound POW’s is an cruel, heinous act, however, how many egyptian POW’s were killed during the 1967 war? If i remember correctly, Sharon was infamous for lining up POWs and rolling over them with tanks, (saved ammo)

  19. I’d much rather see a ban on censorship across the entire world when it comes to programming, but if this is all that you can get, then it’s a start.

    I’ve seen more than enough garbage being said about my country from ME television to last a lifetime. Even a small dose tells me that a large section of the world seems to be clueless about our reality (or reality in general, in some cases).

    At the end of the linked article is another link to the show itself. Saw the preview. My thought again was that if there is to be change in the ME, it will come from young people.

  20. I believe Daniel Pearl’s killers were displeased with American foreign policy, but had nothing against him. If I’m not mistaken, I believe the same could be said with regard to Terry Waide’s kidnappers and the UK.

    Certainly, the Palestinian youths who stoned my vehicle and sabotaged the train I was riding in riding causing it to derail had no ill feelings about Americans. I detected a certain miffed-ness with UN Security Council resolutions in their wanton violence.

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