Category Archives: Jews

On the Persian Gulf: the Disappearance of Saleem the Jew……

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Saleem Yehudi, Saleem the Jew. That was what everybody that I knew called him in those days. That is the way my father and uncles called him when I was a kid. Saleem is a common name in the Middle East, and they were distinguishing him from some other Saleem(s) they knew. There are/were Arab Saleem, Iranian Saleem, Jewish Saleem, African Saleem, etc.
My father often took me along when he had some business near the port in our small capital city on the northern mainland tip of the Persian Gulf. In those days the dhows and fishermen boats were moored to piers right downtown, just behind the Seif Palace. Often my father stopped at the small front office used by Saleem Yehudi. I recall the man behind his desk, he seemed old to me as a child, but he was probably middle aged. He always gave me a piece of candy or a cookie or two, no doubt to keep me from fidgeting and getting into trouble while he talked with my father.

Then a day came when there was no Saleem Yehudi. A day when I realized that I had not seen him in a long time, maybe a few weeks. I don’t recall his name coming up at our afternoon meal Sofra (roughly the equivalent of a Western dinner table). Normally in my family we discussed all developments, everything and everybody. Adults and kids, men and women eagerly participating, interrupting…..

One day I was tagging along behind my father on the way to the port, when I suddenly asked him “Where is Saleem Yehudi, father?

There was a long pause before he said “Gone….. They’re all gone“.
Gone? Gone where, father?” I’m not sure if I was concerned about Saleem the Jew or the piece of sweet he gave me.

Another long pause before my father said “Probably gone to Shiraz, or Tehran….” Then another pause, he usually thought out what he said to me, “Or maybe some port in Iran. They can’t go to Iraq anymore……. Maybe Israel“.

Saleem the Jew, another fellow traveler who disappeared, almost certainly involuntarily……

But that has been the story of the Middle East, from the days of Babylonia and Cyrus until now. Just like Saleem Yehudi, others of other faiths, Arab Muslims and Christians, were also displaced, sometimes forcibly, by the same conflict. They still are in parts of the Old Mandate of Palestine (now Israel and the ever-shrinking Palestinian Territories). It goes on among Arabs as well: in Syria, Iraq, Egypt, Yemen, the Persian Gulf and other places. The ethnic cleansing goes beyond interfaith, to inter-sectarian. A mad search for an ever narrower false homogeneity that never seems to stop these days. It goes on and it dooms the region, especially the countries undergoing this ethnic and religious cleansing.

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

New Trendy Bigotry: Rent a Jew, Rent a Muslim, Rent a Bigot (or Elect One)………

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“Do Jews get a discount when they buy a car? Do they own McDonald’s? Do Jews control the media and international banking? Do any of them live here anymore? These are among the questions German school children ask Jews who volunteer in a new outreach program with the provocative name, “Rent A Jew.” The Jews in question are not actually “rented” since they volunteer their time. But they do present themselves as living exhibits of something young Germans hear about constantly, thanks to their curricula on Germany and the Holocaust but rarely see: living, talking, walking Jews as they live their lives today. The program – launched in 2015 by the Munich-based Janusz Korczak Academy in collaboration with the Jewish Agency for Israel – is beginning to catch on. The Jewish Agency provides funding for the program, which mixes education with humor. “Rent a Jew,” the group’s tagline urges. “You will never forget your first.”

What next? Rent-a-Muslim for the Trump and Bannon and Gaffney kids to learn from?
Some say Muslims may be the “new” Jews in Europe and the United States. The next target for frustrated underemployed Christians and Evangelicals who can’t wait for “The Day” when all Jews are expected to convert to their peculiar old sect started by Jesus of Nazareth.

I don’t believe it, this thing about Rent-a-Muslim. It takes a long history, many centuries of suspicion, discrimination, abuse, and massacres to get to where the Jews are. And requires us to have a lot of talent that makes others realize their own shortcomings, which we don’t have yet. Besides, Muslims are nowhere near being group targets of life-and-death situations: there just are too many of us, and we are not one race or one nation. We come from all over.
Even the New Neo-Republican Party can’t build that kind of a wall. I believe that in this Congress and at the New White House they are realizing that and focusing on their real long-term enemy: a well-educated and healthy American people.

Besides, Muslims don’t make good scapegoats. We make better goats than scapegoats, given how our native countries are managed.

Maybe Rent-a-Bigot can become a viable business in some coastal states. A quaint conversation piece on one of the two coasts. Unless you elect a whole passel of them and let them loose on a country.


FYI: unlike the myth being encouraged in extreme right wing media, not many Muslims prefer slitting throats. Many prefer AK-15 (but that would be a Russian connection no?). One other thing is worrisome, tough: many of us like our food, especially our meat, Kosher (except we called it Halal after we copied it from the Jews about fifteen centuries ago).
More on this later, possibly, stay tuned…….

Cheers
M. Haider Ghuloum

Jesus Economics: He Comes to America at Christmas, Walks Into a……………..

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Someone posted a poll on social media early today about whether Jesus would be allowed into America. Here was my response:

  • He, Jesus Christ, would probably be put on a no-fly list.
  • If not, some other passenger (almost certainly an American) would complain that he feels uncomfortable with someone dressed in a robe, a hairy raghead mumbling some strange language, on the same airplane. So, Jesus would be bounced off the flight.
  • Let‘s assume that he manages to make it, perhaps walking across from Mexico or Canada. He will not be allowed into any church because his attire (robe and sandals) is deemed un-Christian.
  • Besides he wouldn’t know what a church is. Jesus would look for a synagogue upon arrival. Lucky for him, like me in my teens, he’d most likely land in New York City.
  • He wouldn’t be any more welcome in a synagogue than in a church. Memories of the Diaspora and pogroms and massacres and the Holocaust do not fade easily. He might be allowed in a mosque but only with the hope of converting him, and not for long.
  • He would also wonder who this namesake of his was, whose alleged birthday is celebrated by corporate America so eagerly. From September to January every year.
  • Once enlightened he would wonder what did Amazon and Apple and gas prices and NASDAQ have to do with him……

Cheers & Have a Merry One……
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

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Lesson of the Jews: Should Muslims Cower after Every Wahhabi Act of Terrorism?……..

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Personally, I see that Muslims have been cowering these past few days in the face of public bigotry. I must add that I have noticed this “bigotry” only through the media, which tend to magnify the importance of every unusual position and statement. After all, the crimes of terrorism have been committed by a Wahhabi minority, and they have targeted Muslims and others. The Wahhabi terrorists no more represent Islam than the Trump bigots represent a majority of the American people.
We should remember what happened to the Jews of Europe, who also cowered as they faced open popular and official bigotry and were easily shipped like cattle to their deaths across a bigoted Europe. Bigotry needs to be condemned loudly and publicly, especially by its victims.

Cowering in the face of bigots gets you nowhere, just ask American blacks who have lived through the Old South (and much of the North). Muslims in the United States should condemn this Wahhabi terrorism, as they have mostly done, but they should also confront the noisy minority of bigots forcefully and publicly. While keeping in mind that this is an election season, and that is when the mutants come out…………
Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

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Moses Without GPS: a Jew in Cairo………

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“An Egyptian journalist conducted an experiment in which he dressed up as a Jew and asked passersby on the streets of Cairo for directions to a nearby synagogue – with nearly serious consequences for his physical safety. The Cairo-based Internet news site DOTMSR sent the journalist to the streets of Cairo dressed in overtly Hassidic garb – sidecurls, skullcap, beard, and a hat. The “Jewish” journalist was then subjected to threats of violence, epithets, slurs, and shoving from hostile locals. In one scene of the video, the journalist shows an Egyptian a note with Hebrew writing on it. When asked if he is an Israeli journalist, he responds in the affirmative, prompting the Egyptian to hurriedly walk away without responding to his request for directions…………”

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum                          Follow ArabiaDeserta on Twitter
m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

Cultures: Willful Arrogant Europeans, Insecure Islamists, Surviving Banu Quraydha……

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So a bunch of willful arrogant French journalists and other European cartoonists draw insulting childish cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed. Probably knowing exactly what it would provoke, maybe with an eye toward circulation and/or publicity or some public accolades among their literati peers. Art of the kind they probably wouldn’t dare do of, say, the Queen of Denmark or Queen Elizabeth, or even Charles de Gaulle. The queen’s head on the body of a dog, for example. Such re the creative inspirations of the Euro-artistes.
They have the right to do it. And they have the right to assert that right by doing it. Even if les arabes don’t have the same right to wear the attire they want on the streets of Paris. Even knowing that les arabes on the fringes of their society would be up in arms. Responsibility is a personal choice.

Then there are the Islamists who could and should just shrug it off as one of the unpleasant facts of living in Europe, along with other distasteful things like free speech, wine, music, and casual sex. Hayat Boumedienne and her tiny bikini photos notwithstanding, of course. But some of them, a small minority, don’t shrug it off. So they kill a bunch of people they deem responsible.

But that is not the end of it. To go back fifteen centuries they need their illusory Khaybar or al-Khandaq. So they seek some Jews or Jewish targets, people who have nothing to do with the blasphemous cartoons, to hit. There is no need: Banu Qurayza (Bani Quraydha) are long gone from Madinah, beheaded and enslaved and expelled. Obviously those in Europe are not populating the settlements on the West Bank or bombing Gaza (but maybe now they will). Which means they are doing (with Jews) exactly as some of the European racists would do with them (with Arabs and Muslims): target them. Using them as convenient targets and scapegoats. But scapegoats for what?
Cheers

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum                          Follow ArabiaDeserta on Twitter

Censoring the Exodus: Big Moses and Little Yahweh…………

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Yesterday I saw the new Exodus film (Exodus: Gods and Kings) at the local complex. I saw the Imax 3D version. Quite different from the two older versions of the story of Moses, including the second Cecil B. DeMille one with Charlton Heston. The basic outlines of the story are the same; that we’ve all read in the Quran and the Bible. The special effects were superior, of course, but probably not superior to the, er, real ancient exodus? The main ‘Egyptian’ characters in the film did not look very ancient-Egyptian, most of them looked more ancient Jewish or Italian. The masses of Jewish slaves in the film looked more Mexican or Yemeni.

One more interesting aspect of the film. God, or Yahweh, is depicted as a little boy. He looks a lot like The Boy in Striped Pajamas, but cleaner and healthier.

I am certain this film will not be seen in theatres in Egypt or in any other Arab country. Once there may have been a remote possibility such film might be seen in parts of Beirut and Tunis, but that is not possible now. The older DeMille version was never allowed in any theatre in the region. Partly because in most Arab countries impersonating a prophet is not allowed: Salafis severely frown upon even the impersonation of people close to the Prophet (the Sahaba who were just ordinary folks with no holiness about them). Another important reason has to do with perceived modern political implications for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Although every Muslim school kid reads the story of Moses and the Exodus in the Quran.

Besides, we can’t have a film showing a bunch of Jewish slaves beating Egyptians, although the Egyptians of those times were pagan king-worshiping sister-marrying types, and were not even Arabs. Bad enough they have been beating on Egyptians and other Arabs, and handily, for sixty-six years now (with one exception in Lebanon and we know who that exception is).

Ours is an extremely sensitive region. Sensitive in some respects but not towards repression and official violence, from Bahrain to Egypt. Other films deemed “sensitive” have been banned in the past, even some that were reportedly filmed in Arab countries. Like Lawrence of Arabia and Cleopatra. Cleopatra? WTF……………..
Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum                          Follow ArabiaDeserta on Twitter

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

Pop-History? the Invention of Jews and Ashkenazi Arabs…………

      


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This writer, Jihad Al Khazin writes for Al-Hayat, the Saudi daily newspaper owned by Prince Khaled Bin Sultan (funny how Western media call it an ‘independent pan-Arab’ daily). He refers to Arthur Koestler’s Thirteenth Tribe (a book I have not read) and speculates that the Ashkenazi Jews did not originate in historic Palestine, but were converts, originally a people of the Caucasus who claimed they were Jews in order to avoid persecution. (I must admit that is a cute one, a first, a real change, claiming to be Jewish to AVOID persecution). He also says there are no monuments or traces of any ‘fake’ Jewish prophets or kingdoms in Palestine. Then he oddly adds that he heard all the details from a student at Georgetown University, which presumably makes it like some sort of a gospel.

All this about the origins of some Jews may be of some historic interest, but it is of course quite irrelevant as far as the politics and facts (and fiction) of the Palestinian-Israeli issue are concerned. It is not the ‘race’ that matters. Many current Iraqis and Syrians and Egyptians and other “Arabs” including Palestinians are not of Arab origin either. Many Arab tribes were originally foreigners who emigrated to places like Iraq and Syria and Egypt after the Muslim conquests. It is not the blood, stupid; it is the culture and belonging, stupid.

This interesting piece was reproduced in Alarabiya (Arabic) website from al-Hayat.

Cheers
mhg

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com


Sinning Zealots: American Zionist Hayseeds Awaiting the ‘Final’ Final Solution…….

      


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“Despite an uproar in the Jewish community, former president George W. Bush is still slated to deliver the keynote address to a fundraiser for the Messianic Jewish Bible Institute in Irving, Texas, tonight. The MJBI trains people to persuade Jews to recognize Jesus as their messiah. Followers of the group believe that if enough Jews are converted, Christ will return to Earth. After Mother Jones broke the news about Bush’s appearance last week, “a small shitstorm…kicked up over the President’s decision,” writes Rob Eshman, editor of the Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles. “I have yet to meet a Jewish person who hasn’t heard about this,” Tevi Troy, Bush’s White House liaison to the Jewish community from 2003 to 2004, told CNN Wednesday. Troy had high praise for Bush’s support of Israel and the Jewish community, but, he added, “I would be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed.” A spokesman for the Republican Jewish Coalition did not respond…………..”

There is something hypocritical about these objections. After all, it is known most those right-wing (and a few left-wing) politicians who are more Zionist than Ben Netanyahu are doing it for the same reason. All these Bible-thumpers and occasional secret sinners (and I mean serious focused sinners: nobody sins like a zealot) are seeking to convert the Jewish people, eventually. Accent on “eventually”.
In fact they are certain that they will convert all the Jews, eventually. They anticipate that once all the Jews are gathered in the Holy Land (do they mean ALL of them?) and the Rapture dawns, they will all finally convert to the eccentric ancient Jewish sect inadvertently started by Jesus of Nazareth. Yep, that same sect the Europeans took to Rome and Constantinople so many centuries ago and made into a huge bureaucracy. Before the Americans took it over and converted it into a huge show-biz-style money machine.
And voila! No more Jews! With friends like these……….
I am not a suspicious and rude and crude person. If I were, I would opine that all these right-wing wannabe Zionists, all these Ben Netanyahu fans and groupies, have a sinister goal. They are seeking their own “final solution” for the Jewish people, only they are more genteel about it than the Europeans have been for the past six centuries. The favorite European methods of conversion have been gruesome and often unconvincing: the rack, the burning pyre, pogroms, indiscriminate massacres, and the gas chambers. Not the right way to win hearts (forget about minds). The American extreme right is smarter: it “knows”, it just “knows”, that someday there will be no more Jews. All they need is await the Rapture.

This is not antisemitism. After all, these good well-meaning folks would like the same fate for Muslims and Buddhists and Hindus and Environmentalists and Marxists and even for Northeast and West Coast Democrats.
Meanwhile the Israelis, knowing what is planned for them by these hayseeds, are laughing as their agenda becomes Washington’s agenda.

Cheers
mhg

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com


The Last Halal Kosher Kebab Joint in Kabul………

      


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“In his 50s, Simintov is the last known Afghan Jew to remain in the country. He has become something of a celebrity over the years and his rivalry with the next-to-last Jew, who died in 2005, inspired a play. Mindful of Afghanistan’s extremely conservative Muslim culture, Simintov tries not to advertise his identity to protect the Balkh Bastan or Ancient Balkh kebab cafe he opened four years ago, naming it after a northern Afghan province. “All food here is prepared by Muslims,” he said. Now the cafe, neat and shiny, faces closure because kebabs are not selling well – largely because of deteriorating security in Kabul…………..”

How did this man survive the hellish years of Taliban rule? He would have been an obvious target for them. Even many Muslims, both Shi’a and Sunni, did not survive their bloody years. Can survival be something that is, as Wendy Sherman might say, in the DNA?

Cheers
mhg

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com