Since two years ago, researchers at Washington’s Middle East Institute and Cairo’s Al Ahram Center have been working by mutual consent to examine the existing crisis in the U.S.-Arab relationships. We have frequently found that we used to have common national values and objectives. However, our dialogue is currently characterized by anger, frustration and lack of understanding - evidence of the tensions developed between our societies. To our Arab friends, this situation is the result of the U.S. politics in Iraq and Palestine. In reality, that is not the only reason. Our respective cultures and our crossed stereotypes lead us to mutual distrust.
Such lack of trust can be seen in the democratization policy of the Arab world. The United States plans to act positively but the Arabs consider that such policy only tries to develop the U.S. and Israeli influence even more on the region. All of our policies in the region are in advance suspicious for the Arabs. Nevertheless, there are matters demanding our cooperation, but that will not occur as long as the Arabs believe us deaf to their concerns, as long as we see them stuck to the past and always accusing the rest of the world for their problems. That understanding difficulty will be settled only through public diplomacy.
The exchange among researchers, university scholars, politicians, NGO leaders and so forth must be increased. The mass media should encourage exchanges in order to make reports and articles on each one of the two worlds and its cultures. The recreational areas should also get both sides involved. It is likewise necessary to make room for inter-religious dialogue.

Daily Star (Lebanon)

« Some ideas for better U.S.-Arab dialogue », by Edward S. Walker, Daily Star, May 3, 2005.