The following revealing and at times maddening discussion was cut short by Facebook (the post was flagged as spam) because of the nudity in the photograph illustrating the article we were discussing, so I have reprinted the discussion here.
In the blog post on Medium, which was titled Israel is in the heart of the Muslim Arab world, not in the “Middle East”, I made the point that “Israel … is an interloper — it does not belong in the Arab world where it was planted by force, against the will of its Palestinian-Arab inhabitants, both Muslim and Christian — the overwhelming majority in 1947–48. The Western colonizers who founded the apartheid state have imposed many elements of their culture on Palestine (some good, some bad) while at the same time stealing (co-opting), not only land and erasing Palestinian history but also traditional Palestinian Arab culture and food and making it their own.”
Amazia Ido: On everyone of the participants in the Tunic project thousands othrs detest it. Sadly you portray here a monolithic Israeli society, ignoring the similarities between the hostile peoples who have to find way to share the land
Rima Najjar: Amazia Ido, I am making a point whose validity you are unable to see and wish simply to deflect.
Arwa Merriman: Amazia, hard to share land as you say when people homes are being confiscated, their olive groves are being bulldozed, people are being thrown into prison without being charged with a crime (see the many cases of Palestinians going on a hunger strike while in prison in order to combat this injustice) and refugees are not allowed to return to their homes. The territory of Palestinians is growing smaller and smaller as they are hemmed in and policed and what little land they do have is covered with Israeli settlements and checkpoints. This does not sound like a desire to share to me.
Najib Alaoui: Very well put, Rima. I often use the medical imagery of a forced surgery to carry out an unwanted transplant. The body is the Middle East, with all its diverse ethnic, cultural, and religious mix, and the transplant organ is the colonial Israel that was taken from the Western body and planted into Palestine. As is well known in medicine, such transplants would always be rejected by the whole body. This is the natural order of things, where foreign bodies would be rejected by default. Instead of dealing with the foreign intrusion, the sponsors of the said catastrophic project proceeded to uproot, cut off, and poison the rest of the body to make room of the new imported foreign unwanted and chopped up toe!
Λάμπρος Καλλένος: Actually, Mesopotamia, or “Middle East” was a part of the Hellenistic world. Then came the era of the Arab raids…
Najib Alaoui: You can keep your delusional lies to yourself. “Hellenistic world?” What planet/world did you come from? You mean the Byzantine and Roman invasions that were kicked out by the indigenous populations? And please take your racism away to someone who might put up with it.
Rima Najjar: “Middle East” was coined by the British reflecting its European-centered view of the world – differentiating between the “near East” -i.e. Turkey and the “far East” – i.e., China. Shouldn’t regions of the world be designated by reference to their own culture, rather than how they are situated in relation to European powers? In the case of the “Middle East”, that would be the Arab world, and the Zionist Jewish entity is an interloper there.
Rima Najjar: I like the surgical analogy, Najib. The patient has been rejecting the foreign body for a long time now.
Em B. Karmi: Time for Chemotherapy to kill that cancer!
Najib Alaoui: Foreign cultures and practices forced upon the people of the region.
Najib Alaoui: Identity theft
Eugene Makhlouf: Najib Alaoui … and Identity assassination on the other side of the coin.
Najib Alaoui: Yes, absolutely. It’s like the other guy, in a different comment, calling it ” Arab raids” ( note the racism?), and then ” Hellenistic world”. Never mind role reversing and disgusting projection right there!
Ahmad W, Ayase: Eugene Makhlouf well, the identity of the occupier should and must be assassinated in the occupied lands. european identity to be practiced in europe.
Christopher Ben Kushka: discourse like this brings me to the point where i think it would be a good idea for non-germans and non-jews to study german history.
Rima Najjar: I don’t understand your point, Christopher.
Christopher Ben Kushka: biologistic terminology is totally unfit imho to portray a political situation correctly and help implement political solutions. beside the 100s of made-up “anti-semitic” events made up by zionists to foster their cause, there is also real anti-semitism. one of its trademarks is portraying jews as parasites living on and off the “organism” of the peoples they are alien to. it portrays “the jew” as being a wanderer through time and space with no original place to call home and therefore being bound to bring havoc and destruction over the “host peoples”. That’s why.
Rima Najjar: “biologistic terminology”?? How is that a comment on my post?
Christopher Ben Kushka: surgery, transplant, foreign organs being rejected by palestinian body, a “natural” state of a society….. and so on and so forth. this is not political and neither historic analysis, but biologistic. and while your article allows is not unambiguous, it is the discussion and comments here which further deepen my worries. sorry for not keeping my mouth shut, but i´m not looking for a fight tonight, nor for a learned discussion. not tonight, but happy to continue any other time if you like to
Rima Najjar: Christopher, I see. It fits exactly with the topic under discussion here. What is the Zionist project but a transplant operation explicitly meant to prey on the Palestinian body politic? I am sick and tired of this deflection.
Christopher Ben Kushka: it is a colonial settler state occupying, killing and oppressing and ethnically cleansing the indigenous palestinian population. tell me one single aspect of israel´s horror regime there which is not included in that one sentence; plus: tell me why we should be any less motivated to stop the injustice and terror committed by the israeli state when we solely cling to political terms?
Najib Alaoui: Christopher, you can’t pick and choose as you please. You try to censor us for describing the accuracy of what’s taking place and try to impose your own discourse of European racist history by playing the anti-Semitic card? Sorry, we don’t subscribe to European racist discourse and we don’t use it. We talked about politics, and used very apt illustrations to describe what happened. I find your attitude very hypocritical too. What is ” settler” and “ethnic cleansing” if not a transplant? You can’t have your cake and eat it too.
Najib Alaoui: Sorry, Rima, I hadn’t seen your previous comment where you addressed the same point! I’m also sick and tired of the way German and other racist history gets often imposed on us, as a tactic to muzzle us from describing exactly what’s taken place.
Christopher Ben Kushka: a) i´m not censoring and it would be very difficult for you to prove otherwise. b) the line of argument here is pretty much the same used by xenophobes in europe to portray the “muslim/refugee/african” menace to the “real” inhabitors of the land. c) describing it as a transplant ultimately calls for the removal. now while rima at least should know that i´m dedicating much of my life to the palestinian cause and that includes the end of israeli racist rule. but when avoiding biologistic terminology you are free to fight for the political liberation while leaving an open door for “all sons and daughters of the land” -including the sons and daughters of the colonisers- to live there; as long as they are willing to decolonise their minds, give up their privileges and grant all indigenous people their rights. as much as you can teach people hate and racism, you can also re-educate them and teach them compassion, democracy and rights. in contrast: you cannot teach cancer to stop growing, nor an implant to withdraw. that´s the difference between a political and a biologistic perspective. – d) last but not least: we´ve recently had this discussion on rima´s wall about a cartoon using features which were almost identical to the ones of nazi-era cartoons. i´m not forcing the european racist discourse on you. but you cannot deny that the palestinian perspective doesn´t exist in some kind of a bubble unconnected to the rest of the world. (btw: i invest much of my energy into trying to convince the german public that vice versa it is totally illusionary to see middle east politics *solely* from the standpoint of german guilt for world war II and the annihilation of european jewry. same standards i apply here.)
Najib Alaoui: You are just trying to use diversion tactics. I’m familiar with your kind of tactic and I won’t buy into it. You can use that with someone from Europe where it might apply, but I’m not the one for that. I’m not a fan of your kind of patronising either. If you want to discuss the topic of Israel, being a foreign body, that was picked up from European and planted into Palestine, as part of the colonial project against ALL of the Arab world, you are welcome. If you want to discuss German history, that’s a different subject, and you may need a different post for that.
Christopher Ben Kushka: would you point out please where i´ve been patronising?
Najib Alaoui: Your whole take is patronising. You can give your viewpoint, but don’t try to dictate to us how we should describe the realities or the history of it all. As Rima in the article, and others pointed out regarding identity , you are trying to project your own viewpoint on what we actually said. The Israeli occupation of Palestine is nothing like that of the refugees that escaped to Europe. You do your own standing and contributions no good by resorting to these kinds of conflations.
Christopher Ben Kushka: you are right. it´s a slippery road conflating arabic refugees to europe with israeli rule over palestine.
Najib Alaoui: Thank you for the discussion, Christopher. Talk some other time. Peace.
Christopher Ben Kushka: salam, najib! [Sends photo featured above]
Λάμπρος Καλλένος: So…., because we live among a sea of muslims, we should not be allowed to swim? much more to swim naked? In that case, I think the problem is with the conservatism of the sea, not with our nakedness. Right?
Rima Najjar: Λάμπρος Καλλένος – you know very well that’s not the point here. I personally have nothing against nakedness, although I prefer not to see it in public.
محمد يوسف: I wonder if muslims would be granted sharia rights in Europe living among sea of Christians and Atheists.
Λάμπρος Καλλένος: Of course not. Why would they?
They are free to stay away.
محمد يوسف: Exactly.. so the Israelis are.. living among us in our own land after they occupied it with Zionist Europe’s help .. Why are we supposed to accept this?
Λάμπρος Καλλένος: You are not supposed to accept it. As any people under foreign occupation, the Palestinians have the right to resist their oppressors.
But anyone thinking to impose sharia stupidity in Europe will obviously face our resistance.
Ahmad W. Ayase: ^ your countries need to resist israel then instead of supporting it on every criminal case, if not, I will come with my sharia and i will be your neighbor
Λάμπρος Καλλένος: Are you threatening us? Are you serious? 🙂 🙂
Μολών λαβέ. [“Come and get it,” according to Google Translate]
Search your history. You will find the meaning of this there.
In addition, we will also support any social and political movements against sharia in any country that is still imposed.
Λάμπρος Καλλένος: In addition, we will also support any social and political movements against sharia in any country that is still imposed.
محمد يوسف: So why are you objecting on Israelis or anyone living in the Islamic region to follow our way of life when you refuse for Muslims to follow their own way of life in your region… isn’t that hypocrisy ?
Λάμπρος Καλλένος: Dear, you are making gross logical mistakes.
> So why are you objecting on Israelis or anyone living in the Islamic region to follow our way of life when you refuse for Muslims to follow their own way of life in your region… isn’t that hypocrisy ?>
Rima Najjar: Λάμπρος Καλλένος what do you know about sharia law?
Λάμπρος Καλλένος: I know that sharia law is oppresive, without tolerance and tottaly without freedom.
Rima Najjar: That is not true; you should educate yourself.
محمد يوسف: LOL god I used to thınk only Americans are stupid.
Michael Katz: I don’t disagree with this, Arabs and Muslims are clearly the majority in that area, but I think it’s most helpful to frame things in terms of individual rights, as opposed to collective rights of ethnic/religious groups… The latter is the basis for Zionism, Nazism, and other forms of ethnic nationalism… The U.S. is majority white and Christian, but the people who define it as a white Christian country are generally looking to violate the rights of minorities… I’m not saying anyone here is looking to do that, I just don’t want to give Zionists any opening to make that claim.
Rima Najjar: My post and the discussion here, Michael, is about culture and identity – not about “ethnicities”.
Christopher Ben Kushka: yes, but you portray “the” arab/muslim culture as pretty monolithic- which it surely isn´t. when it comes to nudity, i think it makes a great difference whether you´re forcing your nudity on someone else, or just enjoy it in a private space. in the context of the photos here: were conservative people chased away to make space for this particular photo?
Rima Najjar: Christopher, of course we are using generalities in such a discussion, and the point is not about nudity. Tunick’s activity is used here to illustrate a general truth – that the Zionist Jewish state in Palestine is an interloper, a fact often disguised by the use of “Middle East” instead of “Arab World”.
Michael Katz: I understand your point, I know you’re not advocating for fundamentalism, but I think some left-leaning people, who might be inclined to support the cause, could see it that way… In other words, I don’t think criticizing nudists will win people over in America… That’s all I’m saying… Right now, support for Israel is about 70%… If we can shave off just over 20%, it’s a whole new ballgame… This happened with same-sex marriage and marijuana legalization over a period of about ten years… It’s happening now with Palestinian rights… When it reaches critical mass, members of Congress will start to flip, and the funding will get cut.
Abraham A. van Kampen: Are you ready for this … Most Israelis have NEVER been to the Middle East, other than Israel. They’ve never set foot outside their own confines, unless they have dual passports.
Rima Najjar: What’s your point, Abraham?
Najib Alaoui: Except the ones from the Maghreb, many of them go back, as they have families or family friends still living in the region, but unfortunately, Zionism has brainwashed them into Netanyahu mentality too. I think it’s very accurate to describe Israel as a European country in the Middle East. This is just a fact. As the resolution of the situation, then there is international law and Palestinian rights that make that very clear what should be done.
Abraham A. van Kempen: Thanks for the question Rima … Most Israelis have a myopic view of the Middle East … they really don’t know what it feels like being in the Middle East. I do have the comparative advantage of having two European nationalities and passports so I can freely travel, using different passports incase one country doesn’t want to recognise the stamp of another. I don’t meet too many Israelis elsewhere in the Middle East unless, as I’ve stated earlier, they have dual passports. Israelis are not allowed to enter elsewhere. I’d like to see a change. But first the Israelis need to recognise the value of the other. Someday!!!
Najib Alaoui: They can’t, Abraham. Israel is illegally occupying Palestine. We can’t just normalise it without resolving the problem. Arab states have already been deceived into many concessions so many times, but Israel just uses them and does even worse things that were part of the condition for the concessions in the first place. The Palestinian cause is the core of everything and anything to do with any of our interaction with it. They think they are so smart to try and negotiate separately with different entities, but it won’t work.
Mati Milstein: Does not declaring an entire region to be Muslim exclude Christians, Jews, Bahais, Druze and other minority religious communities also indigenous to the region? PS I’m not making reference here to Zionism or Israel/Israelis.
Rima Najjar: Mati Milstein, no it does not; it is simply a fact that the vast majority of people in the Arab world are Muslims and their culture and identity, regardless of religion, is Arab.
Christopher Ben Kushka: which is why there are people self-identifying as arab jews.
Michael Katz: Rima, that’s what I mean… I know what you’re talking about, but this is a propaganda war… The way things are worded makes a difference… Zionists know left-wingers associate the term “Christian country” with violating rights… Then they’ll say Palestinians want the Muslim version of that… It gives them a chance to go off on a tangent and put Palestinians on the defensive, they should be on the defensive.
Matt Milstein: Drawing on my own personal experience, I know full well how Americans Jews and Muslims react upon being informed that they are living in the Christian United States. Certainly, this is accurate in some respects, but to unilaterally subject minority communities into an involuntary declaration of majority national religion most certainly takes a toll on both the communal and individual levels. While our region is without a doubt majority Muslim and certainly culturally Arab regardless of one’s individual religion, I wonder if the experience of minority non-Muslim communities in the Muslim Arab world might parallel those of minority communities in the United States. In other words, do non-Muslim minorities in this region feel quite so comfortable when their world is declared to be Muslim?
Rima Najjar: Well, the culture is Arab, and that means a culture very much informed by Islam. This is the culture that Arab Muslims, Christians and Jews identify with. I understand what you are saying, Mati Milstein, but that’s another conversation altogether. If you have any thoughts about what I am actually saying in the piece, I’d like to hear it.
Najib Alaoui: Mati, the difference is between everyday practice, as we all know it, and ” what ifs”. Everyone knows the region as Muslim/Muslim majority countries. It might also be fitting to point out, it’s the only region in the entire world, where many indigenous populations were able to keep their own ethnic diversity, religions, and cultural particularities. This didn’t happen in the West, especially not in Europe, and yet it’s the opposite that gets told by propagandists.
MA Assi: IsraHell has no future..apartheid regimes are doomed.. Whr is white South Africa??
Rima Najjar: Thanks to all who participated in this discussion. I have expanded the piece to include the following:
“Middle East” was coined by the British reflecting its European-centered view of the world and differentiating between the “Near East” — i.e. Turkey, and the “Far East” — i.e., China. Shouldn’t regions of the world be designated by reference to their own culture, rather than how they are situated in relation to European powers? In the case of the “Middle East”, that would be the Arab world, and the Zionist Jewish entity is an interloper there.
The fact is, the culture of the Arab region is Arab, and that means it is a culture very much informed by Islam, a culture that Arab Muslims, Christians and Jews identify with. And it is a culture that European Zionist Jews regarded as inferior, in keeping with what Edward Said calls the “dispossessing movements of modern European colonialism.”
The notion that some cultures were advanced and civilized, others backward and uncivilized; these ideas, plus the lasting social meaning imparted to the fact of color (and hence of race) by philosophers like John Locke and David Hume, made it axiomatic by the middle of the nineteenth century that Europeans always ought to rule non-Europeans.