A new video proposes a new way to fight terror

Most of my activity in Arab countries aims, in one way or another, to help build international partnerships with local actors supportive of liberal universalist principles. The many obstacles to such ventures include linguistic and cultural barriers, suspicion about foreign involvement in domestic affairs, and plain old ignorance on both sides of the divide. In trying to help bridge these gaps, I’ve begun to produce short bilingual online videos that expose viewers to specific opportunities for human engagement — and offer a means to establish direct, personal contact with a potential partner in one click. The productions are made possible by support from the Foreign Policy Research Institute in Philadelphia.

For your viewing pleasure, here’s a sneak peek at the latest installment ahead of its formal launch. It’s called “Outside the Box.” It introduces the “culture of lawfulness movement” — civic actors in the US, Latin America, Europe, and elsewhere who fight organized crime by promoting the rule of law — and argues for their relevance to stabilization efforts in war-torn Arab lands. You can watch it by clicking here, or on the box below:

Follow the menu options in the last 60 seconds of the film and you’ll also find your way to more substantive information about the people and organizations spotlighted, as well as a means to get in touch and explore cooperation.

Over the next two weeks, I’ll be working to promote the video via social media in ten Arab countries. I also hope to win an audience for it in the West, particularly among supporters of the “competitive soft power” approach to foreign policy. It will be a learning experience: Viewing patterns as tracked by YouTube Analytics, together with personal feedback and social media chatter, will hopefully help to improve the next video. Your own critiques and advice would be greatly appreciated. And if you’d like to Tweet the video, you can do so in English here or Arabic here.

On a personal note, in producing “Outside the Box,” I especially enjoyed laying down the soundtrack. On top of the rhythm section, you’ll hear me playing piano as well as the Nay, an Arabic shepherd’s flute. This particular Nay was a gift from a nephew of Palestinian intellectual Sari Nusseibeh, in the village of Abu Dis, back in the summer of 1992. He made it himself, and I’ve been playing it ever since.

Happy holidays to you and yours.


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