May 27, 2006

Ghosts

It is no secret that Arabs in Iraq are pissed off at Arabs in neighboring countries who cheerleaded Saddam Hussein and who now rally behind the head-chopping car-bombing fanatics tearing the country to pieces. But they aren't the only disgruntled Arabs around.

Check out the latest post from Perpetual Refugee, a Lebanese blogger visiting and writing about Israel. See what happens when someone from Lebanon tries to make personal connections with Arabs in Israel. You won't read anything like this from a mainstream reporter, especially not from the likes of Al Jazeera reporters.

He didn't deserve that kind of treatment, but at least his story has a happy ending.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at May 27, 2006 12:14 PM
Comments

The funny thing is, most of the Al Jazeera reporters in Israel are local hires - ie, Palestinians-with-Israeli-citizenship/1948ers/Israeli Arabs/whatever the term du jour is.

In other words, they're ignoring their own story - or maybe their editors aren't interested in hearing about it.

When the Refugee told me the story about the nargileh bar owners in Jaffa, I wasn't surprised; I'd heard the same thing from a couple of other Arabic speakers who'd tried to have a habibi-habibi conversation with Arab business owners in Jaffa. It's a different story in the Galilee and in Haifa, but for some reason Jaffa Arabs like to keep their heads down. I think I know why, but since I'm not sure I'll avoid speculating here.

Posted by: Lisa at May 27, 2006 01:56 PM

You cannot imagine the difference you and your pals in the ME are making in the history of the world. You are opening doors and windows of that world that the West needs to know. We desparately need to understand why the fight against Islamofacists is not just important for the survival of Western Civilization, but why it is vital for the continuance of Israel, and the advancement of other ME states.

Posted by: DagneyT at May 27, 2006 02:35 PM

Thanks, Dagney. The problem Perpetual Refugee is writing about here, though, has more to do with the deficiencies of Arab Nationalism than with Islamofascism.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at May 27, 2006 04:02 PM

Lisa,

Feel free to speculate. Your guess is better than mine. I can't even speculate about the psychological differences between Arabs in Haifa and Jaffa. I spent one afternoon in Jaffa and only drove through Haifa.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at May 27, 2006 04:04 PM

Next time you come to Israel I'll introduce you to some smart, articulate Arab-Israeli journalists in Haifa. Better you should get the story from the original source, no? ;) It'll be excelllent material for your blog, and also a good reason for us to go on another road trip together.

Posted by: Lisa at May 27, 2006 04:44 PM

You got a deal, Lisa.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at May 27, 2006 05:01 PM

I've heard that when Israel was first formed, the schools all taught Arab as a second language. The reason, supposedly was because the new nations expected to have close ties and relationships with their neighbors. We'll since that didn't quite work out, they switched to English as the second language taught. I'm not sure if it's true. I have eaten in Arab owned restaurants in Israel in Arab villages, and they were speaking Arabic and Hebrew both.

PS - love the blog and will try and donate when I can afford it

Posted by: Just a Voice (ann arbor) at May 27, 2006 05:40 PM

Perpetual Refugee is doing something very interesting to Lebanese and all Arabs I presume. The first time I met Israelis in Aya Napa, Cyprus, i was filled with curiosity and apprehension. To me, it was like meeting Martians for the first time, IN THE SENSE that a)I never actually thought I would meet one, and b)the way they are portrayed it is as if they are not really human, really real. So it was an interesting experience for me to realize that when it is all said and done, we are all human beings after all.

Posted by: Omega80 at May 27, 2006 07:20 PM

Omega, meeting Martians in Aya Napa sounds fun.
Now imagine actually going to Mars. And finding out that it's no different your backyard. Spooky.

Lisa, I'd love to try out Haifa but it's that 'they're watching me' paranoia thing. Spooky.

Posted by: The Perpetual Refugee at May 27, 2006 08:00 PM

interesting. i had a very similar experience walking through the arab section of haifa. i felt like all eyes were upon me and could immediately recognize me as a jew. i didn't feel threatened, only carefully observed. a very strange feeling. and very much, i think, going on only in my own mind.

Posted by: benjamin at May 27, 2006 11:27 PM

It is no secret that Arabs in Iraq are pissed off at Arabs in neighboring countries who cheerleaded Saddam Hussein and who now rally behind the head-chopping car-bombing fanatics tearing the country to pieces.

I may be mistaken, but I believe that those now tearing the country apart have little to do with either Saddam Hussein or al-Qaeda. They're Sunni and Shi'ite militias and death squads.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at May 28, 2006 01:08 PM

Where does the paranoia come from? The airport questions?

Posted by: lebanon.profile at May 28, 2006 01:09 PM

This is a logical consequence of Arab rejection of Israel - in order to reject the right of Israelis to live they have to deny all sort of realities, including the existance of the 1948 Palestinian-Israelis.

It's obvious at it's root that the rejectionist stance is deeply inhumane... My question is why are Arabs willing to be that inhumane?

Posted by: Josh Scholar at May 28, 2006 03:46 PM

>>>They're Sunni and Shi'ite militias and death squads.

And to which of these does Zarqawi belong?

Posted by: Carlos at May 28, 2006 06:22 PM

My question is why are Arabs willing to be that inhumane?

Because it's the JOOOOooooOOOOooos fault.

Posted by: Carlos at May 29, 2006 06:47 AM

Lisa: "I'll introduce you to some smart, articulate French-Canadian journalists in Montreal."

Well, actually it was "Arab-Israelis" - not French-Canadians - but you can see how absurd this statement sounds when applied to Canadians, as an example, and not Arabs. Why? Because no one feels the need to refer to French-Canadian journalists as "articulate," let alone "smart."

These "smart" Arabs, by the way, are clever enough to realize that this kind of talk is condescending.

Posted by: altec at May 29, 2006 10:23 AM

I've read the stuff coming out of Arab news outlets, and they don't sound all that "smart" to me. They sound like friggin morons. That, or they're just frightened government lackies towing the party line.

Posted by: Carlos at May 29, 2006 11:08 AM

Altec -

I actually don't see anything condescending about the phrase "smart, articulate French-Canadian journalists in Montreal."

If someone were to refer to me as a "smart, articulate Jewish-Israeli journalist in Tel Aviv," I'd be flattered.

I used the term Arab-Israeli in order to specify, not classify or condescend. If I had written that comment to an Israeli, it would have read simply, "smart, articulate journalist."

And in fact the journalists I had in mind are people with whom I am currently working on a story that we initiated and pitched together, for a newspaper in the USA.

I'm pretty sure they'd laugh at you for assuming that I was being condescending.

I wonder why you assume so much about me, my views and my life without knowing anything about me?

Posted by: Lisa at May 29, 2006 12:11 PM

Lisa:

When did I say anything about your views or your life? I said it was pretty condescending, in a discussion about Arab-Israelis, to say that you knew some "articulate" ones.

High-profile blacks in America are described as "articulate" by liberals. Some of these people don't appreciate it, and I think it's fair to say the same about Arabs.

Posted by: altec at May 29, 2006 01:21 PM

Oh for heaven's sake, altec. What are you, the PC thought police? Give me a break. I described a human being, who happens to be my friend and colleague, not to mention a fellow Israeli, as smart and articulate. It's a compliment.

Either you are willfully misunderstanding me, or you don't know anything about my country.

Posted by: Lisa at May 29, 2006 01:29 PM

That, or they're just frightened government lackies towing the party line.

"Toeing the party line."

Party line are toed, not towed. Cite.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at May 29, 2006 03:52 PM

Oh, and that should be "lackeys," not "lackies".

"Friggin" should also have an ending apostrophe, as in friggin', to indicate an incomplete gerund.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at May 29, 2006 04:29 PM

>>>Party line are toed, not towed.

Interesting. I learn something new every day.

>>>Party line are toed, not towed.

That should be "party lines are toed," plural. Or "party line is toed," singular.

Posted by: Carlos at May 29, 2006 06:47 PM

DPU's law of blogging language correctness - when pointing out errors in another commenter's post, the correcting comment will contain at least on error.

I hereby claim this law, and if someone else previously has posted this law, well, that would be an error on my part worth pointing out.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at May 29, 2006 07:01 PM

Ahem. ...the correcting comment will contain at least ONE error.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at May 29, 2006 07:02 PM

DPU,

You prove your own point.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at May 29, 2006 07:55 PM

Because no one feels the need to refer to French-Canadian journalists as "articulate," let alone "smart."

Altec, You've obviously never spent time in New Hampshire, Vermont, or Maine where people routinely tell jokes about dumb French Canadians. Unfortunately, and quite unfairly, the idea of an "articulate French-Canadian journalist" would strike most people in northern New England as a non-sequitur.

Posted by: vanya at May 30, 2006 06:32 AM

Vanya -

That's interesting, but it more or less proves my point about patronizing comments. It makes me cringe when say, Barack Obama is referred to as being "articulate." It's condescending. The same thing with Israeli Arabs. People have ingrained stereotypes about them being familial, tribal, unreasonable, etc., and so liberals try to find "tame" Arabs (i.e. Westernized) to make us all feel better.

It's ironic that Sephardic Jews are supposed to hate Arabs more than the Ashkenazi Jews. I would say that their dislike of Arabs is purely of a political nature (e.g. not wanting the Pals to get a state) rather than personal. With the Israeli Left it's the opposite: they're more than willing to make a political agreement, but put them in the same room as a Gazan construction worker and they'll jump out the window.

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Essays

Terror and Liberalism
Paul Berman, The American Prospect

The Men Who Would Be Orwell
Ron Rosenbaum, The New York Observer

Looking the World in the Eye
Robert D. Kaplan, The Atlantic Monthly

In the Eigth Circle of Thieves
E.L. Doctorow, The Nation

Against Rationalization
Christopher Hitchens, The Nation

The Wall
Yossi Klein Halevi, The New Republic

Jihad Versus McWorld
Benjamin Barber, The Atlantic Monthly

The Sunshine Warrior
Bill Keller, The New York Times Magazine

Power and Weakness
Robert Kagan, Policy Review

The Coming Anarchy
Robert D. Kaplan, The Atlantic Monthly

England Your England
George Orwell, The Lion and the Unicorn