Thursday, January 29, 2009

How Arabs reach out to their Iraqi “brothers”

I find it interesting how some Arabs try to reach out to me on my blog and other blogs. Recently two of my Arab brothers, a Lebanese Australian and a Palestinian American, dropped by to “reach out” by leaving some friendly, Arab-like comments for my post “Obama Talks to Arabs & Muslims”. The Lebanese Australian brother’s first comment on my blog:

Finally the curiosity got the better of me.
Books you're reading:
Elie Wiesel?!!
For godssake mojo!
Elie Wiesel who's closer to a viper than to a weasel? For godsake, mojo!! Should I remind you how despicable this person is? This 'benefactor of humanity', the "great advocate for human rights' who never had anything to say about the Palestinian tragedy but scorn, contempt and accusations of anti-Semitism? Do you provide bags for those who feel like throwing up or should I bring my own?”

So Elie Wiesel is despicable, and I should not have his book displayed on my blog, lest my Arab brothers may vomit when visiting here. I did not know that Wiesel was a journalist for the Irgun, the militant Zionist group that participated in the attack on Deir Yassin in 1948, but I don’t think he deserves to be called “despicable” and I haven’t seen evidence that he supports the expulsion of Palestinians from their homes. Before this discussion, I knew Wiesel only from his book Night.

After the lovely exchange with my Lebanese Australian brother, who has attacked me for my “sectarianism” on other blogs before, a Palestinian American brother chimed in with this comment:

"So Mojo, it is not despicable to support colonialism and settlements in Palestine"?

It depends on what “colonialism” and “settlements” mean, I responded. I insisted that I haven’t seen evidence that Wiesel supports the expulsion of natives from their homes. Colonialism is not necessarily the expulsion of natives from their lands, he retorted. He compared Jewish settlers to the Taliban. Some Jewish settlers are fanatical and some have engaged in horrific violence against Palestinians, but like the Taliban they are not. I wrote that I often see Arabs making inappropriate comparisons, “like comparing Guantanamo to Saddam-like imprisonment, or like comparing Abu Ghraib before 2003 to Abu Ghraib after 2003. Like comparing the IDF to Nazis. It is embarrassing.” He said “you are the embarrassment Mojo.”

He demanded that I tell him if I believe Hamas is a terrorist organization or legitimate resistance. The Arabs are in love with resistance. They drink, eat, and breathe resistance. But they have no answers when I point out that many Arabs who’ve lived all their lives just miles from occupied Palestine ended up traveling hundreds of miles to the east to mass murder Iraqis, except to say that it’s much easier to enter Iraq than to enter Israel or the West Bank, and that I should not use the term "3arab jarab". They have no answers to my bewilderment at the large number of non-Iraqi Arab suicide bombers who have killed and maimed mostly innocent Iraqis. They stay mum when I compare how the Arabs have resisted the occupation of Palestine to how the Arabs have resisted the occupation of Iraq. Apparently they would rather compare Israelis to Nazis.

He went on to write: “The good thing is our Shia brothers in Iraq overall support Palestine and the Palestinians. You are in the minority when it comes to your community and that is a good thing.”

So naturally I had to defend myself and show him that I do in fact support Palestine. I have written about Palestine on my blog. I support Palestine’s right to contiguous independent statehood, to freedom and prosperity, to peace. But I loathe the Palestinians who showed support for Saddam and Zarqawi. I will always call Arabs who supported Saddam and Zarqawi “3arab jarab”.

A few comments later my Palestinian American brother wrote this:

"Mojo, that is why i am reaching out to you but i feel that because i am Palestinians you are automatically rejecting me and judging me and my views.

I believe you support Palestine but i also believe you can't have it both ways, you can't be critical of only Arabs but not Americans who back these Arabs or who back Israel."

I asked him to give me an example of my sectarianism. He responded with: “I said i never saw you use the term Arab Jarab when it comes to Shia death squada. It is always in reference to Sunnis from what i have seen.”

Me: “There are Shia jarab, for sure. They just haven't killed any of my relatives. And the Shia jarab did not incite sectarian conflict in Iraq. There would have been no Shia Death Squads of there were no Sunni Death Squads like Al Qaeda to begin with.”

My Palestinian American brother, reaching out:

“You have no proof of that claim on death squads, it is all assumptions on your part.

Can't we argue there would be no Sunni death squads if they weren't disenfranchised?”

That’s when I found no patience left in me. I wrote “So the Baathists, with the help of 3arab jarab like Abu Musab al Zarqawi, responded to de-Baathification by blowing up markets, buses, police stations, weddings, funerals, universities.“

This is how my Arab “brothers” have reached out to me. It’s not the first time I’ve been called “sectarian”. Maybe I am sectarian. Would I be “sectarian” if the hardcore Baathists and their Wahhabi allies had not mass murdered Iraqi Shia in the first place? I doubt it.

It is not enough to commend the American President for wanting to help establish a contiguous Palestinian state. It is not enough that I have expressed sympathy with Palestinians who were expelled from their homes, who lost their children to Israeli bombing. Apparently Iraqis must express support for Hamas as well, or at least agree that Hamas is a legitimate “resistance” organization. We must condemn American support for Israel and US foreign policy in the Middle East in general, even as the same Arabs who hate America emigrate to America and become successful in America. We must not become angry when our Palestinian American friends say “bad move Shia” when we express joy or satisfaction at the hanging of Saddam or one of Saddam’s henchmen - we should at least find the humor in such statements, I am told. We must agree with our Arab “brothers” that Americans caused the sectarian conflict in Iraq, and IF Sunni Arabs caused violence in Iraq, it is because they were disenfranchised. We should not “demonize” Palestinians by linking to articles that show how some Palestinians supported Saddam or Zarqawi. We should avoid discussing Saddam's crimes before 2003, and if we must discuss life for Iraqis before 2003, we should say that it was better than after 2003, and we should blame the Americans for that and nobody else. And we must not display on our blogs books written by such “despicable” characters as Elie Wiesel.

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