Archive for israel

stereotypes n’ truths

ive been meaning to blog about this incident for some time but never really got around to it. i meet a lot of interesting people in the area where i work and some of them leave impressions on me, although i would never blog about any of our clients. recently, a photojournalist for a well known New York newspaper came by and started discussing his work with me while he was waiting (i repeat, not a client). he showed me pictures he’s taken in the middle east, mainly of children living in slum conditions. i asked him about the places he’s been to and he mentioned Iraq.

he developed enough of a rapport with me to discuss his own beliefs but he was still nervous enough to punctuate his speech a few times with the statement “between you and me…”

“between you and me” in this particular context meaning he was privileging me with his insight and trusting me with his thoughts…

he began to talk about encounters he’s had with Saddam Hussein’s personnel and how he had the honor once of meeting the man himself, and he thought him a great leader who had the courage to stand up to the U.S. government and Israel. i interrupted at some point to ask what he thought of those who consider him a brutal dictator, and what about the experiences of persecuted minorities like the Shia. he dismissed it as American propaganda and said that Saddam in fact never went after women and children, unlike our government…and how he was forced to be a firm leader because of people who threatened his rule…nevermind the historical inaccuracies of his views which i’m not about to get into.

there was one particular incident he remembered fondly, when he got to see Saddam in person…although he didn’t get to actually talk to the man, he got to watch him swim…yea, the degree to which this guy idolized Saddam did border on creepy homoeroticism…

and if his views on saddam weren’t enough, he then thought it would be a good idea to let me in on his views on the jew. the jew, a singular thing used by bigots to describe an abstract, conspiring multi-headed monster. the jew, according to the photojournalist, is cursed by God and forever marked, hence the crooked nose. the jewish bankers and politicians are why we’re in a recession, why the economy tanked, probably the reason for every bad thing to ever occur to him since birth. and then there was his theory, although technically it isn’t a theory because according to him its been foretold in the bible…of course…that there will be another great depression, even worse than the first, and the jew will assassinate Obama in order to incite a race war that will distract people from the economic situation.

ok. so i know there are lots of crazies out there running around with their crazy beliefs…but this is still kind of surprising (and slightly horrifying) because the dude works for the popular press…and although i know the world’s kooks aren’t limted to insane asylums and the east village, this encounter still bothered me mainly because of his assumptions and the reasons behind them. he thought he could expose me to his bigoted, ignorant beliefs because by virtue of my background, i could only serve to validate them…because i guess all muslims hate jews and love saddam? what i think is even more disturbing though are the reasons for his assumptions…and there is definitely a reason for why he felt he could share his warped beliefs with this particular muslim, whom he had just met. i’m not a real person to him in the sense that he knows nothing about me personally, so his openness wasn’t due to some genuine bond or trust between us. im just another arab face he’s stereotyped and he wanted me to join him in his hate fest, to nod my head in approval, to validate every word…and he’s no doubt talked to other arabs who’ve done just that. he’s talked with enough of “us” to come to the conclusion that these are the standard views of arabs/muslims, and so it wouldn’t be presumptive and just plain wrong on his part to think he could approach any one of us and expect an affirmation of his hateful views. and that’s what made this encounter especially sad.

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Random Encounters

Great spirits have always found violent opposition from mediocrities. The latter cannot understand it when a man does not thoughtlessly submit to hereditary prejudices but honestly and courageously uses his intelligence. –Albert Einstein

I’ve been working for a small law office in Brooklyn for about 3 weeks now and have come across some interesting people. This morning a man (Caucasian, probably in his 40s) came in who had come in once before during my week of training. The first time he came in, he asked if he could have a poster that was up on our office window. He was really taken by the artwork and knew nothing else of the subject matter, neither did he especially care for it at the time. The poster is an advertisement for the National Popular Conference for Palestinians in the U.S.

The guy came by today just to let me know he actually looked up the artist and he was very impressed by what he found. He then picked up another poster for an upcoming event that had a photo of a little girl from Gaza with rubble in the background, and asked how can people not be moved by such an image? I said well, apparently the world doesn’t find it that moving based on the state of events. He replied how people just don’t care and it’s sad.

As disappointed as I am in people sometimes, I also find it hard to believe that most people simply don’t care, and we began to talk about the impact of the media on the public mind and how I’d rather give the world the benefit of doubt because people are probably just ignorant and unaware of the full story. He looked at me and chuckled and said “God bless you kiddo, but as you get older you become more and more cynical. The world is just selfish.” He then talked about his grandson and how he’s trying to keep him on the right track and prevent him from becoming one of those selfish types.

Despite his jaded views, talking to this man was incredibly reaffirming and just refreshing. I mean the man didn’t know much about the issue before and he did some research on his own based on a poster he happened to pass by that really spoke to him– and now he’s trying to cultivate the same beautiful spirit in his grandson. For me that’s all the reassurance I need, despite his contrary view, that there is hope for humanity yet in this troubled world.

This experience definitely makes up for another encounter I had with some crazy Daily News photojournalist, also white and in his 40s or so, who went on and on about the evil nature of Jews. He also praised Saddam Hussein and kept calling him a hero, and said how unlike the American government, the man never killed women and children. Umm, really??! He also let me in on a “secret” about how we would spiral into a deep depression and Obama would be assassinated for the purpose of inciting a race war that would distract people from the economic collapse and keep them from blaming the real culprits, who are naturally, the Jews.

What hurt me about this encounter was that he acted, and even mentioned, that he was letting me in on his thoughts because he trusted me and knew I would understand. In other words, because I am Arab, I would naturally agree with his views and what he apparently perceives to be the typical views of Arabs and Muslims. I don’t know what disturbs me more though, his views, or the possibility that he’s right in his assumptions?

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Israel using Holocaust guilt to continue Gaza op, says British Jewish MP

This is an Associated Press piece that the Israeli Haaretz decided to publish. The American press on the other hand conveniently bypassed it…

Kaufman, a frequent critic of Israel who was raised as an Orthodox Jew, commented on the claim that large numbers of the Palestinian victims were militants. “I suppose the Jews fighting for their lives in the Warsaw ghetto could have been dismissed as militants,” he said.

Kaufman urged the British government to impose an arms embargo on Israel.

“My grandmother was ill in bed when the Nazis came to her home town…. A German soldier shot her dead in her bed. My grandmother did not die to provide cover for Israeli soldiers murdering Palestinian grandmothers in Gaza,” the MP said.

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The IDF has no mercy for the children in Gaza

Latest by Israeli reporter Gideon Levy…

History has seen innumerable brutal wars take countless lives. But the horrifying proportion of this war, a third of the dead being children, has not been seen in recent memory. God does not show mercy on the children at Gaza’s nursery schools, and neither does the Israel Defense Forces. (Haaretz)

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Gaza Attacks– Interactive Guide

The Israeli Attacks on Attacks

An interactive guide to the conflict day by day…

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scathing piece by Levy in haaretz…

Haaretz.com– Twight Zone/ Trumpeting for War

note:
“Granted, on the English Al-Jazeera channel, an excellent and balanced station whose Gazan reporter Ayman Mohyeldin deserves a Pulitzer, the horror was more horrifying and the despair less comfortable.”

can you remember the last time *anyone* in the US praised al-jazeera for *anything*?

-najam

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