PM: Stop blaming Israel for weak Arab voice
Arabs should stop blaming Israel for their woes and instead embark on a more assertive campaign to win the support of the United States, Prime Minister Rafik Hariri [ of Lebanon] said Saturday.
“If we really want to influence American policy, we should be strong in our country, plan our ambitions and decide what we want from others,” he said during a ceremony at the Sheraton-Coral Beach Hotel to mark the 80th anniversary of the creation of the American University of Beirut’s Alumni Association.
Hariri said that a new world was created following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States with different priorities, enemies and classifications and which has targeted the Arabs and Muslims.
“A violent challenge would not benefit our interests, regarding the imbalance of powers, and nor would kneeling before such an attack, since it would not serve Arab and Muslim interests,” Hariri said.
The prime minister stressed that despite the increasing number of Arabs living in the US, “our political presence and influence are almost absent”.
He said that among the “many” reasons for this paucity of influence was “the lack of a unified strategy for our opinion within the American society and leadership.”
“A heavy presence is required within the centers of American decision-making,” he said.
“It is easy to hold others responsible and blame Israel and the Zionist lobby for being influential in Washington,” he said, stressing that Arabs should also have an efficient presence there.
He added that holding the moral high ground was no guarantee that one’s rights would be attained.
Hariri urged participants not to despair and to learn from the past in the current “delicate and dangerous situation.”
“We should not leave the battleground for the enemies of the (Arab) nation and the enemies of this country,” he said.
The event was attended by several prominent personalities, as well as AUB president John Waterbury. Hariri was presented with a commemorative shield. In response, he praised the efforts of teachers who persevered to teach more than 800,000 students during the war, stressing that they deserved the tribute more than he did.