Aggregator • Mideast Youth • ID=78346
Changing the Middle East can become quite frustrating to say the least. Suppose you believe deeply that change is in order. You rally the troops. You take to the streets.
You dodge a bullet or two, if you're lucky. And when it's all said and done, new
elections are held, the old guard may even be ousted from power, or so you
think, and in come a new crop of leaders who leave you guessing as to whether
the change that they have in mind is in sync with the change you were hoping
What's wrong with this picture?
People are putting their lives on the line, and so far at least, there remain strong
doubts as to what it will all mean. There seems to be a dis-connect between the
aspirations of the people on the one hand, and the kind of change that is
likely to come about on the other.
What do the people on the street want? It's hard to say for sure. Maybe they don't even
know. But there are hints. Mohamed Bouazizi, who started it all in Tunisia, was
college educated and without a job. His was the story of many in the Middle
East. He sold fruits and vegetables to support his mother and sister. When the
police harassed him, and confiscated his cart, he set himself on fire, and set
the Middle East ablaze. What was he telling us in that final act of despair? My
guess is that he was saying that he needed a way to support his family, and he
needed as well the freedom to live his life as he saw fit.
So it could be said that at the heart of the Arab Spring is a yearning for good paying
jobs, and personal freedom.
And yet, as clear as this may be, there is still a gap between the change that people want,
and the change that is likely to come about. So how do you bride this gap?
You can't depend on slogans. Slogans come and go, and are subject to the whims and
fancies of those who set out to exploit them. You can't depend on violence.
Violence begets violence, and you end up with leaders who assume power because
it is in their nature to be even more violent than anyone else. You can't just
hope that things will work out. Most times, power vacuums are filled in a grab
for power, by leaders who are not inclined to listen to their people.
So what can you do to get your voice heard, and to bring about the kind of change you can
only imagine? You build a model, a model that inspires a sense of hope, and
that delivers on that promise with jobs, with dignity, and with personal
freedom. We're not talking about a make-believe model. We're talking about a
real model that you can see and touch, a model that will shine as beacon of
light, for all to see, and for all to follow.
Want an example? Build a Green Industrial Zone in the most unlikely of places, in
Rafah, Gaza, and use it as a new model for the Middle East. Make it an Arab
initiative, to be funded by wealthy Arab investors. And let this model resonate
with hope on as many levels as possible. If you believe in empowering women,
then finance female entrepreneurs so that they can start their own businesses.
If you believe in educating young people, then include a vocational school to
teach needed skills. If you believe in sustaining the environment, then use
state-of-the-art research and technology to address some of the environmental
issues endemic to the region, such as: clean water, food production, healthcare
and green energy. Imagine Jews, Christians and Muslims showing up to work, on a
daily basis, and building a new Middle East.
If you believe in the rich legacy of Arab dignity and pride, then reclaim it with a new model
for the Middle East, one that can be replicated in a bid to revitalize the
entire region with jobs, and with the personal freedom to which we are all entitled
by virtue of our common humanity. A model of this sort will make very clear
what we are fighting for, and how to get there.
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