tv Book TV After Words CSPAN November 28, 2010 9:00pm-10:00pm EST
jim, it's a pleasure to be here with you. we've known each other a long time and i must say i really enjoyed reading the book. there was a lot of new but there were some things that surprised me and i want to give you an ample opportunity to talk about how you came to a lot of your conclusions but i thought i would begin a little with where
we are right now, because obviously all of this effort began after 9/11, an effort to explain the arab world to the united states and vice versa. where do you think we are right now? because there have been some disturbing incidents, threats to burn the koran, the controversy over the so-called ground zero moscow. have we believe made progress over the last ten years in terms of mutual understanding? >> yes and no. there are clearly signs of progress on some levels. my community, arab-americans are i think institutionalized themselves in a way they were not for the years ago. those institutions who work toward understanding have reached i think a lot maturity, middle east institute and the like i think are doing wonderful work. within the jewish community there's a tremendous new
development in the way of organizations that are advancing jewish air of a communications and dialogues across the country. the reception the book is getting is wonderful and indicative of the fact people are wanting to reach out at the same time there is on another level a hardening attitude here and it is the same in the arab world. i look in the book and corporations they're doing marvelous work of doing good citizens, projecting america in the middle east. if the state department has reached a better approach, come to a better approach doing the work they do in the region. we certainly are we beyond where we were in the year -- era, and in the same time they are stuck in the arab world saying this is horrible. but you know, it's the kind of the uneven development where there's good stuff and bad stuff.
on balance, i think we are probably better off than we were a decade ago but i also think we've got some really difficult problems to solve that are not getting any easier. >> you mentioned charlotte. i had to be reminded of this incident after line 11. tell us who charlotte had been before she came into the state department and what her idea of public diplomacy was. >> she was a great advertising executive, legendary. uncle ben's right, etc.. she was somebody who got the job to sell america abroad, some folks in our work said my god why are they appointing her and i thought ghosh, if she is as good as doing this as she was in her other stuff let's give her a chance and went to see her. she said what should i you? i set listen. she wasn't a good listener, and her idea of marketing brand america without paying attention
to what people were actually thinking, what they were saying, in beijing on the level where people's discourse was was a fatal flaw. she said she would buy advertising and change attitudes, and the wanted dead or alive poster really played into al qaeda's hands as did some of the commercials where they were offering the networks. huge amounts of money to carry them and it looked like america was trying to buy friends. it didn't work. and it was unfortunate because that is the moment when people were asking really important questions on both sides, and i feel we squandered the opportunity to reach people. >> host: i remember these infomercials about the wonderful lives of muslims in the u.s., and they my experience travelling of the middle east most people know they have a good life here, muslims have a good life here. that wasn't the issue and don't think it ever has been. >> guest: in addition to that,
those stories were coming out and being trumped by the banner on the bottom of the television set about the middle east when this is going on. they're talking about her work on one level than i was working on the bottom level and is the people being detained and the numbers were increasing in the first few weeks every day. the numbers were getting higher and then the roundups of 5,000, 3,000, and then tell stories about the detentions that were taking place abroad and here. there was no thought that if you're doing this on one level but tromping it on low level of real policy toward just wasting money. >> after charlotte left, they brought in her care and hughes who had been so close to president bush and she went on listening to the middle east but a lot more talking also been listening. i remember her living in saudi retial where she was lecturing of the women and got the power to drive. >> guest: and we had a conversation about that, she and
i, before she went on the trip. >> host: did she accomplish anything? >> guest: she did, and charlotte did, too. again, made mistakes, but one thing she did is open that office in london, and the rapid response unit was smart. but on balance, i think she failed, and care and he was in the same way did some smart things. one of the things i think the last big accomplishment was changing some of our programs, to the more man driven programs and enhancing the visitor program aspect because people want to come here, they want to study here. it was becoming more difficult to do so. she changed some of the programs in the nepy outreach program that brought students here, that brought professionals here, and i think karen hughes did some good work on that level.
where she feels is she talked to much and boasted to much, and at one point i remember her saying to an audience and we've done this and we've done that and air it women in the audience said if you really are doing good things our cultures is don't talk about it so much. it doesn't look right, and i think it is a temptation of translating the politics she did in america to doing that kind of work in the middle east. wasn't an easy shift for her to make. >> host: one aspect you look at in the look and i think is very important is what extent americans now or understanding the muslim world, the arab world, and you have some statistics i thought were distressing, if i can find them here, that only 370 u.s. colleges offer arabic and there were at least at the time you wrote this, only 2,400 students in advan ced arabic in the u.s.. what happened?
i felt there is going to be this big interest in the united states and americans learning arabic? >> guest: there was. if you look of the members before 2001, there's a dramatic increase. >> host: that's a dramatic increase? >> guest: from where it was. the problem is the resources aren't there and the professors aren't there to the teaching. colleges don't have the money to hire. what we need is to take a program like eisenhower's national defense education act and redo it. congress did appropriate some additional funds for the critical language program, but 10 million, $20 million is not enough to cover the need is there. so you have a tremendous demand on students -- from students who want to take arabic. colleges don't have the teachers or the resources to hire teachers, a lot of schools will bring a local in arabic speaker to do a course here or there, but not enough to bring students to the level so they actually can either qualify for a degree
or pass the test that would get them to the next level, so the demand is there and supply is not. >> host: is the trend line still for demand? >> guest: the trend line seems to be for more demand because business and law enforcement, government agencies monday. >> host: intelligence -- >> guest: but the number of unqualified speakers are not there and so what i am looking at is the fact we need to put resources into this and we are not doing it. >> host: when you talk of studying arabic there is one incident you describing the book. obviously it's helpful if you can begin studying at a younger age, and there was a school that was set up in new york that was supposed to teach arabic from the very beginning. talk about what happened to the halil kabren academy in new york. >> guest: the academy in new york was almost a precursor of
the park 51 mosque explosion. it was the same cast of characters, started a campaign, and it exploded just like pork 51. it got localized and new york. the headlines in the new york post brooklyn, al qaeda comes to new york and that kind things and creating a real fear. this is the same people as daniel pipes -- pipes wrote a paper in "the new york post" saying just studying arabic would lead people toward islam and extremism. >> host: in the pie isn't arabic? was in the middle east scholar? >> guest: maybe he has inoculated himself immune from it, the problem was people obviously were afraid and believe it, and the campaign reached a level of hysteria. the poor woman, an extraordinary woman who was the person who was put in charge of the school had
been at an event where students were wearing a shirt that had the word in sada -- -- new york and the students meant it literally, on econ as a coming out, peeling off of the younger generation rising up in new york and doing great things. but "the new york post" pleaded as a call for the insurrection and violence, etc., and she wanted to define the word "literally," which only infuriated pipes and company more, and by the end of the accord, major bloomberg and others in new york were saying to hurt you got to step down and leave the job. and by then, it was over. they had tainted the public discourse about the school that by the time it opened, it was no longer in arabic school. it was longer, you know, meeting of the very special need that
the school was going to beat, and it is today a rather weak imitation of itself. >> host: now this was in the mid part of the decade. what do you think is going to happen within the community center in lower manhattan? >> guest: i don't know. the dust has settled a bit. i think people are calmer. the question is will faisal be able to raise the money. or will people be sort of scared off from supporting -- i just don't know. i think the repercussions will be with us for a long time. clearly this has had a greater impact overseas than almost anything that we have done in the last several years, and as i say in the book people don't judge us by what we say about ourselves, we are judged by how we behave and we behaved very badly on this one. literally every presidential candidate on the republican side
with the exception of chris christi, who appears to be somebody who people would like to be on the running, came out and not only spoke about the moscow but said some pretty horrible things about islam. gingrich's comments for all of. sarah palin, mike huckabee, it really was rather shameful. >> host: a couple films that come up in light of this. you talked about daniel pipes and so on. all of the so-called expert on islam. even someone like tom friedman. is it partly because we have the satiable needs for talking heads to simplify things and boil them down? his it because some people are making money off this sort of have become an industry now talking about muslims and arabs in this way and is their anything we can do about it? >> guest: i think there is a cottage industry that's been around for a long time. the anti-arab, and how muslim
crowd that has done quite well for themselves. the stories recently about sort of commingling of the non-profit and profit money on the part of some of the characters is really quite disturbing. and, you know, there were some other political groups on israel's site. they did not engage in the activity they turned a blind eye to the fact that look, daniel pipes were steve emmerson were, you know, battering and tarnishing the image of the arab-american and muslim groups well, just let them to meet with a wink and a nod, they use their work and would never stand in the way of telling them or go to them and say stop, this is not in the interest of building harmony between people. you know, the networks i think have a real problem and the if
field miserably. the rolodex has gotten thinner and thinner and stuff sadr. -- fatter. was there so many additional people -- >> guest: i don't know why it just the fact that maybe i told o'reilly to stop one too many times and he didn't want me back on. it wasn't something that i enjoyed doing. you know, the kind of sort of a dark alley late night fight the you get into for entertainment purposes? nunes stopped the news and discussion stopped being serious, and i think that they like the folks that figure to because they are totally good for writing or sensationalist enough. but you take a steve emmerson who was wrong about the world trade center, wrong about oklahoma city, wrong about so many times but he is a good talker and that is what they want.
i had one little episode with one of the networks will, col. they called me and said we want you to come on about afghanistan tonight and i said i want to afghanistan. and she laughed and said nobody ever says that to us. [laughter] but we don't really want you on as an expert, you are a good talker and i said i don't do that, sorry, and i hung up and felt that is what it has really become. >> host: the plater industry. >> guest: the people who were good little clips here and there but let's put them on. the damage it does when you have some of these folks as steve emmerson defining the middle east or daniel pipes defining the entire culture or religion of people was horrible. and it's taken a real toll. people ten years ago when asked the question do you want to know more about arabs and muslims, 75% of the american people would say yes, that is down to 60%. more than half actually -- >> host: they are shutting down.
>> guest: they are saying i know, i know enough i don't need to bill more. and on the republican side it's almost 80% think they know enough and don't need to know more. what that means is they have been watching fox, they've become educated, but what they've become educated and are the stereotypes, the myths, and a lot of horrible things about arabs and muslims which isn't true which is why i wrote the book. >> host: let's talk about some of the language in the turnaround. abs fascinated you discuss in the book in the mid-70's i think it was benjamin netanyahu, now the prime minister of israel, got some advice from pr people about how to planned palestinian militants and real palestinians to brand them as communists because that was the bogeyman of the time. >> guest: actually it was terrorists and soviet -- as religious fanatics since i will fanatics. the use of the term islamofacist
you write in the book that president bush used this at a press conference. >> guest: used it once. >> host: and then maybe somebody told him back and said this isn't the term. but that terminology unfortunately is still with us in a lot of places. how can you can't lead islamofacism. >> guest: on echols levels that sounded disturbing. one is taking a religion and using it in that way was quite distressing to people of faith on the muslim side. i also thought the way that during the bush administration they can flee to iran in particular as the sort of headquarters of the common term and sort of tried to match it up against the old soviet empire was quite distressing in that iran will never be more than a third rate power at best. it will never be nazi germany or pro shop in their wildest dreams.
they will never reach the level of power. >> host: they are not invading their neighbors. >> guest: and don't have the capacity to. their armies have been destroyed, their armies that bonn, they are a weak state struggling. they have the leader who makes so outrageous comments and wants to provoke more than anything else. he likes to be outrageous, it gives him a good press at home as he is attacked back. >> host: it doesn't get such good press at home -- >> guest: yeah, that's it andp also in the broader region people who are angry at america look and say if they are attacking him, i like him. that sort of when the president bush would give a speech, seeing this is a global empire, and i'd think to myself that's notp helping people understand what' going on here. and far more thoughtful was the way, for example, jim baker, when we were going into iraq, sort of kept in perspective.
this is something that cannotp stand, but let's not blow it out of proportion. this is not a global empire in the making and our veryp existence or survival as a free people at stake. i think that was a horrible exaggeration. that actually has done damage to our political discourse. >> host: let's talk about what the arabs do think since that is the heart and soul of this book, and the polls that zogby brother has done, what do you think arabs want and how different is that from the stereotype being promoted?ppwp >> guest: i would see the stereotype is this: people will say to themselves those guys go to bed at my hitting america, we get in the morning hitting israel and spend the day watching, you know, one of the arab networks and fueling their hatred or sitting in a mosque listening to a man who is getting them even angrier. the reality is a good to that it
might thinking about their job, worry about their kids, thinking about their health care, get up in the morning and think about whether or not their kids are going to have an opportunity to advance their lives and during the day, the work hard at their jobs, they come home and watch television and the number one rated shows are movies and after that or soap operas and trauma and entertainment. eda is what television the same reason we watch television. i had a funny experience last weekend. i was in the middle east, and i was with a number of folks including some very prominent american jewish leaders, and we were at a conference one night after the dinner there was entertainment and it was an e egyptian woman singing and one of the jewish leaders i was standing next to was marveling at the woman and at the song he didn't understand the words but what sort of and for gold and then he looked over at some of the palestinian leaders who were
there, ministers and some of the government officials and they were clapping along and moving their hands and were so enthused over it, and he said i am seein something different that i never saw before. and i thought one thing i saidp about this whole discussion that the experts, you know, guys who knew five words in arabic and could use to ennis entrance and they were madrasses etc and the words they needed to know words about love and see even the night and thinking of you and this is what was moving this culture. but i don't think we understand these are people just like us coming into the only picture that we see of arabs are young and guys shaking their fists or the angry faces of protesters. but that is not who people are. it's sort of like a story i tell when i was living in central pennsylvania.
i lived in philadelphia for about ten years before then and we were then out in the small little thomas teaching and state college and the next-door neighbor came to me and said did you really live there and i said yes. and he said with your family? and i said yes. he said weren't you afraid? i said no, not really. why?p people get murdered their everyday. and by what that's all he sees in the newspaper and that is the only story that we see about the arab world here or about iran.p so the fact there is a normal life people and egypt are actually happy and pleasant and fun to be with and something th would be beyond americans the couldn't understand because they never see it so i wanted the book to sort of tell the story these are the people as they are, folks like us with kids and jobs and hopes for the future and we need to understand that. like the need to understand us as we really are for us to move forward. >> host: i think one thing
that upsets me my husband and i were based in cairo for eight years in the 80's and i wrote lots of features about life, ordinary life and that each of sinn sense of humor and all the rest and held holidays are celebrated and we don't have so many foreign correspondents for the united states anymore so the only kind of stories we're getting hour from war zones because they done esters who go to the portuguese know that they can solve the stories and may be more difficult to sell the feature that used to be a stable -- >> guest: and without getting into the israeli arab conflict is that the israelis are understood as people here so that we see them as people like us, but we see arabs ansi object or abstraction and largely increase and not like us and so in some ways the absence of the foreign correspondent now the absence of people who will tell
the first story doesn't hurt the israeli side because they've already established themselves in a culture and the air live site never really did. the one from invisible which is where they were before the 67 war, to yemen. >> host: there is a campaign that the talk about, the deal legitimization campaign. don't you detect that they are having to defend their society, their policies a little bit more these days i think particularly after the flotilla incident of the turkish ship. >> guest: defend their policies yes, and they ought to because the policies are indefensible, but to defend the people i don't think so. i think that they are, like i said, i think that they have in green and to agriculture the sense that they are the people like us. it goes back as i've written the book -- >> host: paul newman in exodus. >> guest: yes, it was a very clever sort of overly of thepp israeli-arab story on the cowboy and indian story and we watched
it before we know the indiansp were actually good guice, too. we watched it and set of god, you understand them, they are just like us, they want to be free and happy and the savages are doing everything they can to block them and worked. that is what to this day we've identified the arab-israel conflict as the israeli people wanting to be fee versus the palestine problem and that this is a problem to be solved but not real people to care about and identify with. i think if you ask people think of israel they can think of people coming palestinians, they can't think of people or people like us. >> host: people like this have not been marketed in this country. >> guest: part is a palestinian problem and arab. they haven't done the marketing, but at this point it doesn't matter whose fault it is we have a job to do and that is we are to invested in that region lives
at stake, to many interests, extended to much political capital we have to know if the arabs aren't going to be selling job we have to go over into the learning themselves. >> host: we are going to get recommend so i am not going to get too deep into the u.s. policy. we will get into that soon. but just tell me briefly how you became who you are and the sort of professional area, you are christian, born in this country. why this? how did this become your mission in life? >> guest: i always felt close to the culture. i grew up in that era. it was who i am. happily ever did before english is a child, a mother who was an extraordinary and gifted person who valued learning and was as i
showed from some of her letters in the book so determined that we would be proud of who we were and of our heritage. on was doing my graduate work and was very active and in the middle of all of that i got a fellowship from the middle east to do some research. i was working in religion and revitalization movements and to the idea of studying the refugee camp and seeing what was going on with the trauma of the experience being in the camps for as many years. i collect all the stories in one camp. it was south lebanon, and the day i left a woman driven my arm. she was the woman who actually introduce me to many of the people and she steered me down and said we've told you everything and what are you going to do.
and i remember sitting next to my wife on the way, and said our lives are never going to be the same again this is a transformative experience and i found out about something i didn't know about and i learned about it in a personal way. i could put faces on these people. i had their stories. i knew where they had come from, what they were experiencing and how desperately they wanted to go back to the lives the to the forced to leave. and it was a few years later the price started the palestinian rights campaign and if you know, it was funny because i was involved in antiwar stuff and remember speaking at a rally about vietnam and somebody from the jdl, why are they letting the arab speak? i was of iridescent but i felt that arabs were people from over there and i was an american. once i started a campaign it was
over. i was like the arab guy. it is like a gay person coming out. people don't look to the same anymore. that is what was happening to me. i was proud of who i am come still am, wouldn't do anything different in my life. the work i do is important and i feel good about it. >> host: you're going to take a quick break and come back in just a couple of moments.
>> "after words" with james zogby and barbara slavin continues. >> host: jim, we were talking about how you got into this. now you started in the early 70's, and this must have been an incredibly challenging time. this is when we had palestinian terrorist attacks, black september. how did you manage it? >> guest: well, we didn't deal with the issues of that sort, although we were very clear in condemning terrorism and actually pretty harsh. i got some pretty harsh letters from people in the different palestinian movement condemning what they did and was very public about that. but we focused on human rights. we focused on people who were being tortured under occupation, and we focused on some of the problems that refugees were heading in different countries, and so why not overtly being a
political organization, i.e. we didn't take positions on a range of political issues but we talked about individual cases we were doing what basically amnesty international wasn't doing. amnesty at the time wasn't taking cases in america for adoption because they were afraid of losing support here, so only london amnesty to palestinian cases. so if we came across a woman prisoner who had been tortured in prison or a young in american, sammy, who had been detained for months and forced to sign a confession, we picked individual cases, house demolition cases, etc., people in the camps were being treated badly by lebanese authorities, etc.. that's the stuff we did. so in some ways we were not the palestine solidarity committee. it existed. we were not to the friends of
the plo group. that existed. we were a human rights campaign and so some of those issues didn't affect us, but we were cleared in condemning that stuff and need it very clear that it was -- not only was destructive of human life on the israeli side, but it was destructive of people of understanding of palestinians on the other side. it was bad for both. >> host: talk about the centrality of the palestinian issue for the arabs. you do i think if you're a good job in the book of explaining that there isn't in a way no such thing as an arab world. that there are vast differences from larocco all the way through many of these countries are quite dissimilar. but the palestinian issue does loom large. why is this? >> guest: there is an -- isn't an arab world on the one hand and there is an arab world on the a forehand. it's like there are catholics sensibilities, there are distinctly arab sensitivities, and one of the key issues is
palestine. i call it the wound that never heals. in some ways there is an existential identification the arabs have with that question, and there are people like them who hurt who remind them of their vulnerability, their loss of history, the sense of betrayal by the west. i would say, and some folks don't quite get it, but if they hear me all i think they will, the rule of palestine in the arab consciousness is not unlike the rule of the holocaust and the jewish consciousness in america. it's not a holocaust to be sure, it isn't people who've been exterminated, but it is a people like them who are vulnerable remind them of their own invulnerability and who hurt and therefore make them hurt for themselves. i have had ministers call me and
say the guy is that hate hamas and everything they stand for what they will call me and say i saw what was going on in gaza. those kids look just like mine. what can i do? on feel so powerless. that sense i think loom as large, you're right, in the air of a consciousness and we ignore it at great risk. >> host: as you have said many times it is the policies. , you know, all of these efforts to sell america to the arabs, and someone basically do not work when the united states is seen as somehow a powerless to resolve this terrible conflict to do more than put a band-aid on. >> guest: if you understand the arab narrative, which americans don't, it's like the native american narrative. that we are living in that region, foreigners came, carved up, states were created regime, regimes were put in place, the
land was promised to in the the people who then came and said we are going to modernize it and make it ours. it's like what about us? where do we fit in the story? and that sense of losing control has been so critical in in the air of consciousness -- arab consciousness and continues to be felt every day wind gaza happens or lebanon happens or when new settlements are built. the inability to control anything. and the false promise of the terrorist who promises kunkel by dealing a blow, it does in fact make some people say good, get them. but it's a product of the same crisis, the same crisis in history that has shaken the arab world now for so long, which is why the more we do to restore the palestinians a sense of dignity and ability to realize their ambition, it will reverberate beyond that.
and it will make people feel good. international justice works, the law does work that non-violence does pay off. that those who want to negotiate actually can accomplish something. but to date, the negotiators have been the ones who failed, and people in the arab world feel that. they feel people aren't listening to us. what else can we do? it is a sorry state of affairs. >> host: talk about the current state of the so-called peace process. where are we and what happens if it just dribbles out the way it seems to be now with the israeli prime minister refusing to extend the moratorium on settlements in the palestinianso refusing to come back to talk? >> guest: i feel bad for barack obama. in a sense that i had opportunities to talk with him when he was in the samet he truly understands the issues and wants to solve it is important to him but he gets elected in the middle of the gaza crisis,
takes office in the middle of the gaza crisis or the very end of it, and in this up with a prime minister who i personally feel is not at all committed to peace and has, if you look back at his record in the 90's is a master maneuver and is never tired of trying to outmaneuver and throw paint in one direction when he's moving in another direction. how many times do we believe and he says no idea we were going to make that announcement it's almost as this effort every time a u.s. official is going to mee with him the come up with an announcement. he's covering one while moving in another direction. but the net result is there was no confident in his commitment to peace, and if you want to make a new government it is there for the asking. he has padilla in the wings. he could form a government bill would support peace.
he doesn't want to support peace therefore he wants to continue to have the guys in his government who don't want peace so we can complain i don't want to do it, it's too hard. you have to help recover my right flank. he could dump those guys and bring those people who want to work with him. he just doesn't want to. and i think clinton did a great job of ultimately helping ease him out and burning barack obama in a just like the courage and bush before him, help get them out and bring him in. the question is will barack obama be able to do the same? i don't know. he has been demonized so much by the right to be and there. >> host: should he go to israel? of the complaints he's been to so many muslim countries now, turkey, egypt, saudi arabia, he has been in indonesia, he's given all these speeches of outreach to the muslim world. should he be trying a little harder with the israelis and the community? >> guest: he looked to the people we were in the end of the
bush term. where we were in a crisis of across the arab and the muslim world, and it was -- you know from the work you do that there was just no way you can underestimate the severity of the crisis from the two unfinished wars comegys processed characterized by neglect or recklessness on the part of the bush administration, amnesty all across the region, and the first challenge he faces is how do i get out of the school. the first place to get out of whole is to try to rebuild in the air and the muslim world. now he had gone to apec twice. he had given these remarkably pro-israel speeches. >> host: but he was running for office. >> guest: but i -- believe me, every word in the speeches were listened to in the arab world. the commitment on jerusalem, etc., reverberated strongly. it's very difficult balance act and i think they made the judgment let's start here. let's start with the wound of
gaza are still with us so the appointed michel and did outreach to the countries, he did the interview and then tried to convince the arabs to join. i guess maybe taking for granted that the israelis would be on board. at this point i don't know if there is a net gain in going to israel or a loss on the arab side. it had become very polarized and he is in a difficult to find. i'm not advising him. >> host: is the next move if you could advise? >> guest: i actually think they should have been tougher and still should be tougher with netanyahu. there is no loss to putting more pressure on him and sending a message of the absolute displeasure. only the possibility and i think in israel the israelis do not want to risk forfeiting the american friendship, and --
>> host: but it is not going to happen, let's be realistic. >> guest: when they tell me in as tough with him as scold them not one building, not were pretty tough. the point is there has been a meandering. they have gone from talked to a something that is a consistently abused child on the palestinian side and a spoiled child, tom friedman is right, on the israeli side, and there are two pathology's playing out the in the middle of the, your behavior has to be very consistent or both sides will only reinforce their policies than what we've done by ne during is confused
the abused child, the spoiled child and the process has gone absolutely nowhere. >> host: we just had our midterms and obviously a lot of people fought obama won't do terribly much in terms of pressure on this before then but now we had the midterm the republicans have taken the house, the strengthened themselves in the senate. what are the implications of that for the u.s. policy toward the part of the world? are you concerned it is going to make it even harder that we are going to see efforts to prevent war prisoners from being transferred out of guantanamo? you know, very strident record. what went ahead and? >> guest: on the guantanamo issue, that unfortunately, that is one of the issues when we first put in the arab world he got the highest points in the guantanamo and stopping the torture and in the guantanamo is the most difficult to address. so i think that issue is over. >> host: although they have moved a lot of people loaf with
-- >> guest: the symbol of it remains a scar that will not go away. on the arab-israeli concept the thing i fear most is today the press accounts of secretary clinton announcing more aid for republican congress is going to be free tough on aid and they are looking for ways to maneuver to get the israel aid separated from the palestinians and other programs so they can cut them and keep the aid protected. however, i think one thing that is good is keeping the senate even at a small margin and the leadership on the foreign affairs committee kerry and senator lugar this president will not have to deal with bill clinton dealt with which are the econ pond act that went through that really inhibited peace process -- it was an act that
required the state department to write the regular reports on the plo compliance terms they set up that were just outrageous terms that no percipient could even be. there was even a provision that no u.s. officials could meet with any palestinian in jerusalem. there was led jerusalem embassy relocation act. there was the religious freedom act that was clearly designed targeted countries. there was the iraq liberation act, the first step in this in the regime change issue and so many things that in the book on the president's desk with the majority's that he had no choice but to sign and it constrained the policy very severely. that won't happen right now. the one thing i fear is aid, but i believe the president has filled the power to change an opinion here and there, and i think he ought to make a little
could be an extraordinary salesman, and i think that he, himself, can be more vigorous and i think more consistent. the meandering has taken a toll. bill clinton might replace george mitchell? mitchell is a remarkable person and i would follow him to the end of the earth, with i think that the quiet diplomacy, the approach he used in ireland whereas one of the irish principles involved in these negotiations told me george's secret is he lets you talk yourself to death and when you are so bored if you're in yourself and he says okay are you ready to listen? the arabs and israelis -- >> host: they will never retired -- [laughter] >> guest: no. they are new to that and -- but bill clinton, went with him to gaza and bethlehem and jerusalem in 98. i saw him go over the head of the leadership in both arab and
the palestinian and israeli side, get people to do what they would not do on their own. he has an incredible ability to move public opinion. and right now we have to change opinion on the palestinian side and on the israeli side. you have to change policy here but change opinions there and if you would change opinion and bill clinton can do it, george mitchell, that is not the style he brings. team, clinton has sort of let the dough and spice it up a little bit and change the dynamic and then mitchell to sit and bring the people together. >> it is a priority for the president, want to see if he can continue with this. i want to go back to the book and a couple of things that surprised me. some of the things that went right by me during the 2006 lebanon war a state department
official after the assassination when we saw these demonstrations did was paula who called it the fever revolution and that it was actually below the knees called the independent which of course doesn't ring as well because the association with the palestinian uprising. i am amazed is this part of the freedom agenda banning that was at the time? >> guest: the freedom agenda banning was there and president bush, you know, i will never forget his, you know, for word march of freedom in afghanistan and iraq and when we think that now each place with the footprints on the march turned up to be a disaster. it was the joint squashing people and helping them move forward, but i was as surprised
as you when i found out that the feeder notion came from here. >> host: the american [inaudible] -- >> guest: and surgeon labor is it made it well in the country but the idea they wanted it to have a name that would resonate like the green revolution or the velvet revolution or the, you know, the whatever, was clearly an american issue. look, we handled it badly back then. everything we could to get the fear riel. it was an important victory. but once they were out we had the opportunity to help lebanon moved and we squandered it. >> host: the two kosmas six war war month-long war came after that come and -- >> guest: even the time in between where we could have done more, and all of the polling we do one of the things that strikes me is you will get on
division among partisan groups the tempter issues defined the people want reform, they understand the system has to be national unity and reconciliation and understand they cannot exist divided. people want emphasis on health care, education, etc.. we don't ever talk about the listings. what we end up doing is grinding ourselves down into things where they can agree and i think that when the syrians were out was the time to move together and possibly bring the french to talk about okay how do we help the lebanese move forward and reform the system and implement the last piece which is the national accord. >> host: which was signed in 1989. >> guest: and one of the things it is halting the the civil war but the syrians and instead of making the final changes that they had to make us
what to reform the system so they wouldn't of the sector in conflict again we never did anything and still haven't done anything with it and it is a system crying for change but we have to help it or someone externally s to help it and we haven't done that. >> host: saudi arabia could play a role there. one of the things you left out of the book was the phrase that i will never forget during the 2006 war when so many people were being killed in lebanon, so much damage was being done in the condoleezza rice, then secretary of state, called it the new middle east. >> guest: i guess i had taken enough shots at her in the book i decided that was enough. of a lie about -- the long and about it was a -- this is the new middle east, the old one wasn't so good anyway. i thought enough on her, already, that one was actually, that should have been there.
>> host: >> guest: second edition is going to be. >> host: one of my personal favorites. when i was writing my book about iran, i was told that after the u.s. invaded iraq she told a bunch of senior u.s. officials the u.s. was going to do to the middle east what we did to europe after world war ii. this is another one of my favorites as somehow you can today template from one area and put it on another. >> guest: the reason that kind of thinking is there is because we don't see them as just one. we understand that we lost 3,000 people on 9/11 and the visit, that will be with us a long, long time and ought to remain with us and people who don't remember that americans lost and are still afraid and concerned to the security, etc., and angry about what happened will pay the price for not knowing that. but when i iraqis lost 100,000, when the lebanese lost 1400 a child to the country of
them civilian, and the palestinians lost the same number in gaza, and there will be a killing on the west bank and they will write an article that will say after a period of time but in that period when the israelis have 100 palestinians, and we just don't think of their lives as equal to our own. they just don't understand they live with this and feel this hurt and if we sold them for people like us sitting we would behave differently and our diplomacy would work better them. i use the line from my mom if you want someone to hear you, listen to them first because that means your respecting them as equal and therefore paying attention to them and that is the way you communicate. >> host: we are almost out of time. i recommend this book highly for the charts at the tables which are very surprising. a couple things that surprised me when you say that arabs don't
culture, they don't hate our freedom and they don't even eat women's rights, you found in one of the tables here that 81% of saudi's like freedom and democracy and a 76% of the saudis think that women should have equal rights. i thought that was quite remarkable. >> guest: i think that he was on the right side and is trying to move the country forward there are some entrenched groups like there are in every country was against women working in supermarkets and saudi arabia as cashiers from some of the religious guise of the supermarkets have maintained the courts have maintained they are right to do with and the struggle persists. that country is changed dramatically in the last 60 years. we have some 30,000 people six years ago, today it is 4.5 million. this incredible pressure when you have that kind of change and putting their lives of
fundamentalism with people being shocked by all that changed. i think the attitudes of most saudis today are on the right side of things. they want us to leave them alone and let them work out their own and change, and i think we can give them that kind of support. them for us to try to intrude. as i said in the book is the swedes came over in our health care debate and said of the us figure this out, or the japanese or the bridge came over and said your handgun problem is out of control, do it our way, we would get angry. we can't reform them, they have to come for themselves. >> host: what are some things that individual americans can do to educate themselves? >> guest: i have in the back of the book a last chapter getting it right, and i talk about things you can do, the world affairs council you can join with a great decision seriously by the foreign policy association, a great way for the communities to get together and do a reading and study and
engage in debates and votes on critical issues and then there are web sites. every arab country now has either its major arabic paper translated into english and on the web, or a great newspaper and english already that is read by so many people in the country, and they are a great organization here. i mean, if you go to the international crisis group for the world affairs council or some of the arab-american groups like my own, the arab-american institute, there is material available that you can -- isasi if you pick one arab country and read the newspaper every day, not just the front page with the letters to the editor, the, to reconsider what you'll becomes infested that you will want to know what they are doing. and it's a great way that you can comment on their op-ed and have others comment on your comments so you can engage in conversation long-distance. there's so many things you can do and an enlightened citizenry is what we need today if we are going to make the changes and played a role in the world that
we want to play. >> host: and -- >> guest: and you can buy the book. >> host: you can definitely by the book. what is your -- what surprised you the most of the polls you've done what was the most unusual finding? >> guest: i think -- you know, maybe because i know the region pretty well i didn't get surprised a lot. >> host: you weren't surprised -- >> guest: i think the women's issues were the ones that pleasantly surprised, okay? you want to think that they are moving forward, but i think the women's issues -- the right to work, women in the three quarter range, and the equal rights one, i think it is quite striking in all of those countries. we ask the question do women have equal rights and they will give you a not so yes answer. but should they have equal rights, and the numbers go up. that i think it's surprising. i didn't expect it to have advanced that much in the period of time since we have been
polling. >> host: one thing that surprised me on iraq, and yet again reports iraq was going to have a new government -- that the iraqi dislike intrusion and interference from iran as much as the dew from the united states. i felt that was interesting as well with the stereotype that somehow iraq is becoming an iranian -- >> guest: if you if we paid more attention to some of the polling in iraq early on, we would have altered our course. but maybe the iran thing, the iran question was critical in the whole region because it's not just the iraqi is the are concerned there. a lot of fascination over a recent poll that we did where we have here is looking favorably in some countries on the iranian nuclear program. but if you look at the other numbers, we have not looking favorably on a year on itself. nafisi iran as a threat, but there's always a screw you factor to the nuclear program.
it's like we opposed it and so people are going to say okay, he is defying you that may not be a bad thing, but they're still very concerned about iran's role, and i think we have so much more we have to learn about the dynamic, the complex political dynamic in the region i think the book only begins to open that investigation but so much more needs to be done, and our polling has been fascinating over the years and, you know, i just am so thrilled that we've had the opportunity to do it for the last decade and now a chance to get into print. >> host: okay and you're going to continue i hope doing this? >> guest: without question. >> host: mr. zogby is a pleasure to talk to you and thank you very much for this new book. >> guest: thank you, barbara. up next dnesh contends economic