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Similarities and Differences: How Political Agendas Mold Public Opinion

Salma Hassaballa has produced two documentaries and written books in multiple genres. She is a member of the Egyptian Writers Union.

The design of an atom is very similar to that of the solar system, yet they are different. I believe that spotting the similarities and differences in things around us is a good exercise for the mind; it also may lead to conclude positive findings. In this regard, I studied the similarities and differences found in four different cases and I draw conclusions accordingly.


First Case: Israel State and ISIS

  1. They started as barbaric entities.
  2. They are annihilating the innocents as long as they are more powerful.
  3. They use religion to wage illegitimate wars.
  4. Both are planted in the Middle East by Western hegemonic governments’ involvements.

Nevertheless, Israeli crimes are blessed and supported by the world, while the Arab governments are silent in shame and disgrace. On the other hand, everyone condemns ISIS, particularly Muslims who are completely aware that ISIS has nothing to do with Islam!

Israel is made to stay, while ISIS is made to accomplish a certain agenda in the region, then disappear.


Second Case: The Ugly Woman and a Coup

The ugly woman stands for hours in front of the mirror, desperate to hide her facial flaws. And the more she’s ugly, the tougher her task would be. There is an Egyptian proverb that says: combs don’t help the ugly face!

Exactly like the coup, no matter how hard the coup supporters are trying to beautify it, it will remain ugly in the eyes of generations ahead, in the eyes of anyone who calls for justice, equality and freedom, and in the eyes of anyone who has eyes to see, ears to listen, mind to reflect and a heart to love and appreciate.

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Third Case: Israeli, Western and Arab Nations

They all support their leaders’ actions and decrees, and they all believe in the history proposed by their governments. However, the differences are found in the details:

  1. Israelis believe that they possess the land on which they are living, the Promised Land by their Lord. In that sense, confiscating lands, expanding settlements and even slaughtering the Palestinians are acceptable actions for some to fulfill that promise.
  2. Americans believe that their governments are fighting for a good cause: to save the world from terrorists and to propagate the good values of freedom, equality and democracy.
  3. Arabs believe that they have gained their freedom and independence, and they managed to abort the Western colonialism of the last century irreversibly.

However, most people believe in what “the elite," the few dominating rulers, want them to believe, which is rather different from the truth:

  1. Israelis think that they are the ancestors of the children of Israel mentioned in the Bible, and they have all the right to live on the land of Palestine because of their bloodline. However, it is hard to believe that God would ask his followers to kill and slaughter innocent souls and occupy their land by force on the pretext of a promise. Additionally, some intellectuals reveal different facts that shook Israelis' excuses. Shlomo Sand, an Israeli emeritus professor of history at Tel Aviv University, revealed in his bestseller book The Invention of the Jewish People the many pieces of evidence confirming that Ashkenazi Jews were descendants of the converters who lived in Medieval Kingdom of Khazaria [1]. They are not the children of Jacob as they think! If this is the case, where did the descendants of Children of Israeli go? Sand gives an answer to this question. He finds it reasonable to assume that a slow, moderate process of conversion from Judaism to Islam took place in Palestine/Land of Israel, and accounted for the disappearance of the Jewish majority in the country [2]. The author also quoted from Ben Gurion and Ben Zvi's socio-historical book Eretz Israel in the Past and in the Present with the following passage: “The Fellahin (farmers) are not descendants of the Arab conquerors, who captured Israel and Syria in the 7th Century CE. The Arab victors did not destroy the agricultural population they found in the country. They expelled only the alien Byzantine rulers and did not touch the local population. Nor did the Arabs go in for settlement” [3]. Long before the release of Sand’s book, the late Egyptian scholar Mustafa Mahmoud revealed in his book The Grand Conspiracy almost the same facts and information.
  2. Most Westerners don’t know that between 50–55 million people have died around the world as a result of Western colonialism and neocolonialism since the end of the World War II. This relatively short period has arguably seen the greatest number of massacres in human history. Most of them were performed in the name of lofty slogans such as freedom and democracy. Along with the 55 million or so people killed as the direct result of wars initiated by the West and pro-Western military coups and other conflicts, hundreds of millions have died indirectly [4]. Indeed, the road to hell is paved with good intentions. The philosopher Tarek Ramadan said: “We (Westerners) all have to do something which is – out of humility – to check our people. Because with the best means we can promote the worst attitudes. In the name of human rights, we went to kill people, in the name of human rights we can promote and support the war in Iraq and Afghanistan while so many innocent people have been killed. And I said it from the beginning never forget that the blood of Afghani or Iraqi innocent man or woman is as valuable as the blood of an American innocent man or woman” [5].
  3. Arabs, sadly, are still occupied. But instead of exploiting their resources by colonizing their lands, the Western hegemony and Israel are colonizing the minds of the population and having their proxies in leading positions, ranks and groups. The Egyptian Scholar Fahmy Howaidy quoted in his article “Uncommon Proverbs,” published at El Shorouk Journal (4/8/2014): “Long before, the Israeli occupation to Gaza surprised me because it is surrounded by Arabs from all sides, but when I grew older I learned that Israel has occupied all the Arabs except Gaza”[6].

Fourth Case: Belief and Brainwash

Everyone has a certain belief, whether he is a Muslim, Sikh, Christian, Jew, or atheist who thinks that he has no belief at all but is not realizing that believing that the universe had come out from nothing is a deeply seated belief. Beliefs extend beyond religious values to encompass political, economic or even moral views. And you will find our beliefs to a great extent affect our attitude, approach and conduct. If you start to debate any of those believers about his tenets, probably you will find a great opposition from his side, and you may end your argument by concluding that he’s brainwashed! But is he really brainwashed? Is embracing any belief a form of brainwash?

Throughout history, the perpetrators of the assassinations of political and religious figures think that they have a good cause for what they have done. That is what they believe, but is it the reality?

I guess that the main difference between believing and brainwashing lies in the essence of the belief—in other words, the credibility of what you believe. Is it true and real? Does it make sense? Or is it just an illusion and a chain of fairy tales?

The Preciousness of the Truth

The four cases may appear very different, however, they all point to one common value, which is recognizing the truth. In all cases, the truth is very precious and needs a lot of effort to perceive. It needs searching, analyzing, evaluating, connecting and concluding.

It is recognized by facing facts and denying lies and illusions, by evaluating consistency and excluding contradiction. Certainly, seeking the truth is a travel on long and bumpy roads. It is the only way to spread peace, love, and justice, however, and it is the only means to give a value and a cause to our life journey.


  1. Shlomo Sand, The Invention of Jewish People, English edition, Verso, 2009, P.246
  2. Shlomo Sand, The Invention of Jewish People, English edition, Verso, 2009, P.182
  3. Shlomo Sand, The Invention of Jewish People, English edition, Verso, 2009, P.185
  4. Noam Chomsky and Andre VItchek, On Western Terrorism: From Hiroshima to Drone Warfare, PlutoPress, 2013, P.1
  5. Is Islam a religion of peace? - Tariq Ramadan
  6. Unspoken sayings

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