July 01, 2006

Anti-Semitism Part II

The ‘natour’ (janitor) of the building has very generously contributed to my difficult story on anti-Semitism in Lebanon. Yesterday he had commented that now that Holland was out of the World Cup, I really should remove that Dutch flag. He wanted to eliminate all the flags as the World Cup progressed, so that in the end we’d have only one country left on the building. “Germany, in shallah”, he said. I did not comment on that. I thought it rather amusing that a grown man would have such childlike pleasure in organizing this flag war on our building, but hey, what the hell, so yesterday I removed the Dutch flag.

When I got out of the door this morning, he said: “Now that Holland is out, you should be with Germany.” Was he hinting at me installing a German flag on my balcony? Over my dead body! Germany, of all places! The Dutch have a rather checkered past with the Germans, much like the Lebanese have with the Syrians. It is not quite comparable, but there are some similarities. We only had to deal with the Germans for 5 years, so we shouldn’t complain (as much as we do). But cheer for the German team?
“No,” I smiled politely. “I will not cheer for the Germans. The Germans are like the ….” I didn’t want to say ‘Like the Syrians’, because I did not want to insult him. Maybe he is pro-Syrian, I don’t know. Maybe someone in his family is from Syria, who knows? Who cares, but whatever the case, I don’t want to insult him, so I was trying to be careful with my words.
He looked at my face, which must have had a rather painful grin. “Aaaah,” he said, suddenly nodding understandingly, “they are like the Jews!”
Right. It is a perfect lead for my story.


jooj said...


ten years ago, I might have had a much more biased opinion about jews. I might have used the word jew and Israeli interchangeably, just like many lebanese, esp. the southern.

Now, I can put my emotions aside and see it more objectively. I can draw a line.

I am sure there are a lot of good jews, even Israeli ones. But I can not praise their virtues more than condemning their vices. Just not ready for it.

Please continue writing. I have really enjoyed ready your posts.

the perpetual refugee said...

I used to group 'them' all into one. Jews and Israelis.

Now I group them into three. Jews. Israelis. Israeli government policy.

There are many Israelis that are not Jewish. I'm not even talking about the Arab population. I'm talking about secular Israelis. They don't eat Kosher. They don't observe the Sabbath. They just want to live their lives.

There are many Jews that are not Israeli.

And then there is the Israeli government which follows the same sort of model as the U.S. No matter who is power, from whichever party, the policy is king. The people occupying the chairs of power only implement one policy. Policy has one vision. One long-term vision.

Anonymous said...

It is scientifically wrong to call an Arab anti-Semitic, as the Ancient Semitic people are today's Arabs and Jews. Arabic is, like Hebrew, considered to be a Semitic language.
Anti-Jewish is probably what you meant. You might be true, but like "jooj" said, Lebanese and Middle Eastern in general often (mis)use the word "Jews" to talk about Israelis, probably because before 1948, we referred to the Jewish colonialists as, well, "Jews", because Israel hadn't been founded yet. And i guess the tradition was perpetuated