Sunday, August 17, 2014

Tips for Arabs About Speaking (about Palestine) to Western audiences

I wrote this list today in Arabic on Facebook and Twitter. S. kindly translated it into English:

"Conclusions based on my experiences: for Arab students in the west. When I arrived in Washington I used to attend as many seminars, lectures and debates as I could. I would focus on the Arab speakers’ performance as they faced Zionists. I used to closely examine Abba Eban’s performance because he was the enemy’s best propagandist in the twentieth century.

1. Emotional rhetoric is not only unhelpful, it’s harmful. The PLO’s representatives used to try to elicit the audience’s tears, which made their performance appear cumbersome.

2. It’s important for the speaker to match the audience’s command of language and it’s even better to surpass it. This comes from reading academic and literary books, not the internet.

2. Credibility is important. The speaker should be careful not to contradict his or her own positions and statements. You should realize there is at least one Zionist who is keeping record of what you said over the years.

4. Don’t maneuver or deceive or play with words like the deceitful Arafat. Be forthright even if that means offending the audience.

5. Don’t address audiences until you’ve educated yourself on the Arab-Israeli conflict so you’re not ambushed with any question or fact. I used to see Zionists weigh Arab speakers down with details they had no knowledge of.

6. You should reach a level of knowledge that enables you to discern sources of information. During the attack on Gaza I read in foreign languages Arab bloggers who were presenting information from British tabloids.

7. I learned from Abba Eban the importance of speaking fast (I may do that too much sometimes). He used to speak without stopping to catch his breath, which would capture the audience’s attention, I noticed.

8. Don’t limit your reading to one side. You must read the enemy’s academic and political literature. Many from our side read only Chomsky and forget that he, notwithstanding the importance of his creticisms, is not a historian or political scientist.

9. Don’t allow your radicalism to drive you to falsify your positions.

10. Don’t overestimate the importance of addressing the West. Remember that Palestine will be liberated from there, not from the West, in spite of American public opinion. "