The charge of “normalization” is a weapon used by impotent leaders

Ray Hanania’s Column


Some leaders become leaders by appealing to the issues of truth, knowing that although it may not achieve success immediately, truth almost always wins out.

Truth also does not always make you the most popular person either, which is one reason why so many politicians and government leaders tend to lie and exaggerate.

Not surprisingly, there are other leaders who prefer the short-cut to power, using ad-hominems attack and relying on basic, ordinary, run-of-the-mill demagoguery. That is, they make accusations so incendiary to evoke an emotional response that achieves a goal without worrying about the truth of the issue at hand.

Ironically, stupid, untalented leaders always resort to an appeal to emotion to establish and protect their leadership, and reinforce their power.

It motivated the Inquisition in Spain, launched the Crusades, and motivated a little known U.S Congressman, Joseph McCarthy, to seek this shortcut to power in the 1950s. The practice eventually borrowed his name, McCarthyism.

Not too surprisingly, McCarthyism is turning up even in the totalitarian, dictatorial ruled Middle East countries of the Arab World.

The weapon, this time is not “Communism” which fueled the McCarthy bon fires that burned innocent people at the stake, but a distorted little term called “normalization,” or transliterated from the Arabic, “tutwheel.”

Normalization, in its purest form, is the process of acting as if nothing is wrong. It’s a formal process that rejects the grievances of one side and pretends that the other side is not committing a crime, as the normalization process proceeds.

Yet the term is misused and abused by those who seek to appeal to the frustrated, suffering masses. In the Middle East, the accusation of “normalization” fans the flames of emotionalism among a people who are suffering not simply at the hands of a brutal Israeli government policy, but also at the hands of incompetent Middle East and Arab World leaders. These Arab World and Arab Diaspora leaders simply are incapable of standing up to Israel’s actions. And, they are afraid to tell the public our failure at Israel’s hands is the result of their failure to lead.

Why admit you are a loser when it is easier to attack someone else and blame everything on them?

Recently, Egypt’s so-called “Writer’s Union” expelled a member, playwright Ali Salim, accusing him of “normalization with Israel.”

Never mind that, well, the Egyptian government signed and its people accepted a full term peace accord with Israel. And never mind the more important fact that Egypt doesn’t have a free media and that a writer’s union there is merely an attempt to control writers who don’t tow the government line.

Never mind that Jordan, Morocco and several other Arab countries also maintain full force relations with the government of Israel and that even more maintain unofficial economic ties to the so-called “Zionist entity.”

And the strongest thing they can do in response to the Government of Israel’s use of F-16 fighter planes against an unarmed, civilian population is to declare in Arabic, “Whallah, hatha harram!”

Salim’s crime was that he made several trips to Israel, gave interviews to the Israeli news media and Israeli satellite TV. Not surprisingly, Salim was previously expelled from Egypt’s so-called “Actors Union” for “normalization with Israel” in 1997, too. The Egyptian dramatist has written 25 plays, several of which were popular in the 1970’s, and published a book in 1994 entitled “My Visit to Israel”. He claims to have visited the Jewish state seven times between April 1994 and July 1996.

That doesn’t even come close to the number of times other Arab leaders have visited Israel.

But clearly, the Ali Salim case is not about normalization with Israel. Because, if that were true, the so-called “Writer’s Union” in Egypt would have also banned every major Western news media outlet from working in Egypt, and censored every Egyptian government official who not only visited Israel but gave interviews to the Western news media, too!

The real issues are hard to see through emotionalism, but emotion is a powerful and easy feeling to exploit.

Israel’s government is a government of hatred. That is true. Ariel Sharon, through his leadership, appears to be in the early stages of Nazism, and is aspiring to become the Adolph Hitler of the New Millennium.

Israel’s country is a failure. It failed to provide security for its own people, Jews who have replanted themselves from lands that are anti-Semitic in Europe and the United States. And, Israel is a failure at democracy, too, acting more like Apartheid South Africa by using a person’s religion, race and ethnic background to violate that person’s rights.

A good Arab leader would have more than enough ammunition to attack Israel’s government, a country that violates every basic premise of humanity and civil rights, without resorting to McCarthyism against a fellow Arab.

But we are talking about impotent Middle East leaders incapable of explaining why “tiny little Israel” has kicked the crap out of them time and time again on the battlefield, in the news media and in the forum of international relations at the United Nations. The only thing they can do is to turn to another Arab they dislike and accuse that person of “normalization with Israel.”

Hey. At least it keeps the public focused on someone else, rather than on their own failure.

But sadly, the reality is that if we had more normalization in the Middle East, we probably wouldn’t be in this mess in the first place.

(Ray Hanania is a Palestinian American writer based in Chicago and a regular contributor to MMN. His columns are archived on the web at

Back to Top 

Like this ? Vote for it to win in MMN Contest