Monday, February 10, 2014

Ziad Asali : The Road to the Arab Civil State

Good Advice

"...This tumultuous period of transformation and change presents a historic opportunity for the Arab peoples, and their elites, to regain self-confidence and once again believe they have the ability to overcome their challenges and the power to determine their own futures. Explaining away uncomfortable realities by citing oft-repeated theories about “Zionist and international conspiracies” or “hidden hands” should not be allowed to seduce Arabs into any kind of withdrawal from the reality or the broader world around them.

Such conspiracy theories are repeated with abandon. They rob the Arab people of their ability to assert their rights and responsibilities as citizens, and to take the initiative proactively to determine their own futures for themselves. It is high time that Arab societies face up to their internal problems and external challenges, rather than blaming others. They should develop new social compacts and legal and political processes that will allow them to unite and shape their own futures, rather than passively waiting for events to unfold, and all the while learning from the experiences of other regions and countries.

There is a historic opportunity for a new, galvanized Arab intellectual life to inform and participate in empowering a new consciousness that embraces the inescapable reality of global competition and the urgent need for Arabs to raise the levels of efficiency and professionalism in their societies.

Let’s begin by correctly identifying what’s going on: these are civic transformations that must be the basis for the creation of fully formed, well functioning modern societies that are united within themselves and competitive globally. But for this to happen, intellectual, social, cultural and political discourse in the entire spectrum of the Arab world must begin to find ways of promoting pluralism, tolerance, freedom, accountability, rule of law and real equality for minorities and women.

This will not be easy. A recent UNESCO report that confirms that half the children in Arab states lack the fundamentals of a basic education demonstrates that all too clearly. The future of the Arab world relies on developing the necessary mechanisms for social and economic development and real international competitiveness.

These challenges are gigantic, but the crucial thing is to begin moving in the right direction. Once the process is underway, it is the responsibility of like-minded people to work together and develop the necessary compromises and consensus views that can begin to coalesce on the ground and online to develop a better and safer future for the region. The path will be long and difficult, but it is unavoidable and failure cannot be an option."

Ziad J. Asali, M.D., is the President and founder of the American Task Force on Palestine

Dr. Asali was born in Jerusalem, where he completed his elementary and secondary education. He received an M.D. from the American University of Beirut (AUB) Medical School in 1967.  

The American Task Force on Palestine (ATFP) is a 501©(3) non-profit, non-partisan organization based in Washington, DC.  Established in 2003, its mission is to articulate and educate about the United States national interest in helping to create a Palestinian state living alongside Israel in peace, security and dignity. 

ATFP is committed to strengthening Palestinian-American relations at every level. The Task Force supports Palestinian institution-building, good governance, anti-corruption measures, economic development, and improved living standards. ATFP holds that these same values are relevant to the broader Arab world, and that the question of Palestine is inextricably linked to regional realities and developments.

ATFP provides an independent voice for Palestinian-Americans and their supporters and advances human rights and peace. It categorically and unequivocally condemns all violence against civilians, no matter the cause and who the victims or perpetrators may be.

ATFP builds effective and durable working relationships with government departments and agencies, think tanks and NGOs, and the media. It has developed lines of communication with the US and other
relevant governments in order to pursue its policy advocacy goals.  AFTP’s Board of Directors is made up of noted Palestinian Americans who agree with these principles.

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