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Peace Roadmap

Selling a Vision of Hope: A Refreshing Alternative to Armageddon

Look inside Nissim Dahan's book Selling a Vision of Hope with Google Books.

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How to Beat the Ideological Extremist at His Own Game E-mail
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Written by Nissim Dahan   
Table of Contents
How to Beat the Ideological Extremist at His Own Game
A Sensible Strategy for the U.S. and the Western World
Public Diplomacy


When the President of the United States speaks, he usually stands at a podium that has the Presidential Seal affixed to it. The Presidential Seal features the American Eagle holding two things with her talons: a cluster of arrows with one, and an olive branch with the other. The message resonates loud and clear - while America is prepared to wage war whenever necessary, she remains eager to make peace whenever possible. And notice that the Eagle points her head in the direction of the olive branch - the universal symbol of peace.


There is no question that America has a fight on her hands. The enemy is fiercely determined and is emboldened by ideological conviction. Whether in Iraq, or Afghanistan, or some other place where the need arises, we will have no choice but to fight. The trick will be, however, to sustain and win the fight using both the "arrows" and the "olive branch," at the same time, and in equal measure.

Some would naturally ask, "Why should we have to invest in the Middle East, if we also have to fight in the Middle East?" The answer is simple. It is precisely because we have to fight, that we also have to invest. A Vision of Hope will elevate the fight on the ground to a higher moral plain and will inspire us to persevere until the war is won. In order to sustain our resolve, we have no choice but to inspire our own people, and people abroad who choose to partner with us, to rise to the challenge. We can use a Vision of Hope as part of our strategic arsenal to win the war against ideological extremism.


Picture in your mind a seesaw, with a Vision of Hope on one side, and the fight on the ground, on the other. As a Vision of Hope comes down toward the ground, as it is given substance in reality, it will raise up the fight on the ground to a higher moral plain. It will give the fight on the ground a moral clarity of purpose, which is indispensable to the struggle that lies ahead.

In today?s globalized world, an olive branch means nothing less than Selling a Vision of Hope. Give the man on the street a sense of hope, and you will have turned the corner on world peace. Nothing less will suffice and nothing more is needed. Start with a big vision, give it some substance on the ground, and soon enough the reality will become as big as the vision itself.


Such is the dynamic of change in the world, and such is the prescription for change in the Middle East. It is time to think out of the box that is us - to get over ourselves and beyond our differences. It is time, before time runs out, to dream the impossible and to make the impossible come true.

Comments (4)Add Comment
The stupidity is discouraging
written by Tonto, February 28, 2008
As you know, I've often responded to comments in MEY. I really get tired of the "you're racist and a bigot" I get from Esr'a. Shit fire! The most racist and bigotted people on earth are the islaminazis! The inculcation, from birth, that those people have recieved ellicites an immediate response like that. When I go to MEMRITV or Dhimiwatch or Religion of Peace, or get e-mails from Arymehr, I just shudder sometimes and lose hope that anything less than total war will solve the islam problem. That is the problem in the ME......islam is insane and HAS to go. smilies/undecided.gif In despair, I've bowed out of MEY. I can't stand sucking up to assholes that want to kill me and have such undeserved arrogance. Wanted to thank you for sticking up for me at times and wish you well...and success, even though I think you've taken on an impossible task.
Don't give up, Tonto
written by Nissim Dahan, March 03, 2008
Tonto, it is hard to ignore your sense of frustration. I've read many of your comments on the website and have found them to be insightful and worthwhile. But now, you have decided to walk away from that conversation. I wish you would reconsider. It is precisely because the discussion is so difficult, that it is so necessary.

I don't disagree with you that an expanded military conflict against extremism may be in the offing. The question is, Tonto, what can we do to prepare ourselves for that conflict?

My answer, as you well know by now, is to Sell a Vision of Hope: Speak to one another with Common Sense and with a sense of personal dignity. Invest in one another with jobs that inspire hope and that protect the environment. Use an Ideology of Common Sense along with some well placed Investment Dollars to sell people on a Vision of Hope. Sustain the hope with Public Diplomacy. And when necessary, fight, and fight hard, but position the fight within a Vision of Hope. Raise the fight on the ground to a higher moral plain by giving the fight a moral clarity of purpose.

To do all this, Tonto, we must continue talking to one another, if for no other reason, than to consolidate support among moderate Muslims. And don't kid yourself; there are plenty of moderate Muslims- people who are open, who are not extremist, and who want nothing more than a better life for their children.

If we can somehow find a way to partner with these people, then we will be half way there to winning this thing. As I always say: The extremists will not be able to capture the public's imagination once people begin to imagine a better life for themselves.

Your voice is an important part of this equation. I would urge you to keep speaking out on my website, and even on Mideast Youth. We don't always have to agree. And sometimes, you may rightly feel that you are facing unjust criticism. But if you hold on to your convictions, even in the face of opposition, and if your views make sense, then eventually you may be able to persuade others, and thereby begin the march to a better day.

As for my project, you're right; it's as close to impossible as you can get. I know. But considering the alternative, what choice do we really have but to give it a try. As I am fond of saying: This may well be the time, before time runs out, to dream the impossible and to make the impossible come true.
Great ideas, but where do we start?
written by Bahij, March 15, 2010
It was extremely encouraging to read this article and see that there are people who understand the type of action that needs to be taken to improve the situation in the Middle East. The strategies that you provide for working towards peace are some of the most helpful and well thought out ideas that I have come across in dealing with the issue, however, as has been said, they are not easy to start.

What I found is one of the most often understated principles that you encourage is the emphasis on investment. Without investment in the Middle East’s economy, education and culture, even if we fight until the end of time it will not have mattered and a lasting peace will never settle.

However how do you get Western investors to see that their efforts are necessary in the Middle East? More importantly, how does one motivate them to invest?

Part of this has to come from the West gaining a deeper understanding of the cultures of the Middle East, because what we have now is a thin, superficial and mostly wrong impression of almost every culture in the region. Once Westerners are exposed to real Middle Eastern peoples and values - the widely accepted moderate values, not the extremist – then Westerners will see that Middle Easterners are not so different from themselves. Without this step I fear that investment will never take off.

The point that I most like about this philosophy is that it accounts for the fact that change cannot happen only from the top down. In order for change to take effect it needs to be a movement supported by the people. But how do we begin this movement? It’s confusing and frustrating to contemplate, but what kind of concrete steps can we really take to move this sensible ideal forward?
Thank you for your thoughts Bahij
written by Nissim Dahan, March 17, 2010
Bahij, first I want to thank you for your comments. It's not easy getting people to engage in that way.

I am glad to hear that you agree with some of my thinking. And you rightly ask: What kind of concrete steps can we really take to move this sensible ideal forward?

Well, I can't speak for everyone else, but I can tell you a little of what I've been doing. In the beginning, I sat down and thought about what approach could work. That, by itself, is important because many times we jump to action, even military action, without really knowing where we're heading, or what it will take to get there.

Then I wrote the book, and designed the website. I've also been corresponding, via internet, with hundreds of people in the Middle East, on such websites as, where I am a regular blogger.

In the past several months, I've been meeting with some very powerful and wealthy individuals, who actually have the ability to make something happen along these lines, including investment. For example, I had a one hour conversation with George Mitchell, who is the U.S. Middle East Envoy. I also met with a multi-billionaire in the West Bank, who empolys some 60,000 people. He said he would like to "partner" with me, although I still don't know what that means.

I think what I'd like to do is to involve myself personally with several concrete projects in the West Bank, and to leverage that platform into an involvement in the upcoming negotiations, even in a behind the scenes sort of way.

However, I remain open. I would be willing to get involved in anything that could possibly help to promote the prospects for peace.

Until then, I would like to continue corresponding with people like you, who care about the issues, and who bother to do something about it, even if it means something as simple as putting down your thoughts in writing.

I hope we can continue to talk to one another, and maybe, out of that will come a clearer idea of how to "sensibly move forward."
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