By Ayoob Kara.
I recently had the privilege of visiting the Chicago History Museum, which documents the history of the city of Chicago. This includes a special exhibition on the Jewish immigrant experience in the city.
While in the museum, I approached 10 different Americans and asked them if they ever heard of the Druze nation, and I was shocked to discover that none of them knew anything about the Druze nation.
The fact that 10 Americans who cared enough about history to visit the Chicago History Museum, which is in an upscale educated area in a major metropolitan city, never heard of the Druze nation speaks volumes for how little Americans in rural areas or less educated neighborhoods know about the Druze nation. This speaks very poorly from my perspective that average Americans don’t know anything about their partners in the Middle East who support America and Israel. It creates a very bad feeling.
Of course, the Druze nation plays a pivotal role in the future of the State of Israel and America’s involvement in the Middle East. The fact that so many Americans don’t know anything about the Druze speaks very poorly for the American educational system. In fact, last year, the Washington Post reported that America’s National Assessment on Educational Progress scores on US history, geography and civics were so low that US Education Secretary Betsy DeVos called them “stark and inexcusable.” Only 15% of 8th-graders scored proficient or above in U.S. history along with about a quarter in civics and geography.
However, for a long time, too many Americans did not know key facts about their own country, such as the names of all fifty states in the union, let alone anything about nations in other parts of the world. For example, a statistically representative national Gallup Survey in 2003 found 53% of Americans did not know that the first 10 amendments to the Constitution of the United States are called the Bill of Rights, 33% did not know who delivered the Gettysburg Address, and 42% didn’t know the title of the national anthem.
American TV host Jimmy Kimmel selected a random group of adults, many of whom were college educated, and asked them to identify just one country, other than their own. Only one person in the video was able to comply. Even more scary, two thirds of millennials in the US never head of the Auschwitz Death Camp.
Due to their poor educational system, average Americans don’t understand at all what is happening in the Middle East and around the world. The ignorance of the American masses causes American presidents to make horrific foreign policy decisions, such as supporting the Iranian nuclear deal, withdrawing from Afghanistan, or supporting the Arab Spring revolutions, which led to the ascent of radical Islam across the region. After conducting this study, I now understand why they make so many foreign policy blunders. When you don’t have the right information, it is easy to make mistakes.
What saddens me is that if average Americans don’t know anything about the Druze nation, then they also don’t know anything about the Yezidis, the Kurds, the Azerbaijanis, and all the other nations in the Middle East, who are so friendly to the United States and who stand opposed to radical Islam.
It is therefore of utmost importance that Americans learn more about what is going on in the Middle East. America’s failure to understand developments in the Middle East can lead to US presidents to make mistakes that will embolden radical Islamists to the detriment of America’s strategic allies in the region and this goes against America’s global interests.
I would therefore argue that the ignorance of average Americans is a strategic threat to the United States, which one day could lead to another September 11 occurring on American soil.
Ayoob Kara was born in the Israeli Druze town of Daliat el-Carmel in 1955. He completed his army service in the Israeli Defense Forces with the rank of major and studied business administration and public policy. He served in the Knesset from 1999 until 2006, and as Deputy Minister of Development of the Negev and the Galilee, Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office for Special Functions, and as Israel’s Minister of Satellite Communications and Cyber.
In 2015, Kara recognized an opportunity for bridging diplomatic relations between Israel, the Middle East, the Gulf countries and other Islamic states in the region, and he promoted a regional economic conference between the countries. After the election of President Donald Trump, Kara met with him, which led to the economic conference in Bahrain, which concluded that there is a need for a non political body to initiate and promote the economic initiatives for the region.