When I was growing up, we socialized with a lot of Arabs — from Israel, Jordan, Egypt, Syria, etc. I don’t know why that was possible back then — if we were anomalies or if, back in the 1970s, the hatreds of the Middle East hadn’t yet made it to America. It probably helped that most of these Arabs were Christians, although not all were. I remember these people very fondly, and the lavish meals they prepared are forever enshrined in my memory.
It was at one of these meals that a young woman from Damascus told me something that is also forever enshrined in my memory. Arabs, she said, are programmed to fight. It’s in their nature. Imagine yourself offering a group of Arabs a plate of cookies, she told me. You say “Would you like a cookie?” In the West, they would say “Yes, please” or “No, thank you.” In the Arab world, one will say “Those aren’t cookies, they’re tea cakes.” And another will jump up and say, “Tea cakes, you fool? Those are biscuits.” Then, a third will grab at the plate, spilling it on the floor, and say “You idolators! Those are crackers.” Then, she told me, before you know it, the food is being ground into dust on the floor as the Arabs in the room fight to death to force the others to yield to the label the wish to affix on those cookies (or tea cakes, or biscuits, or crackers). Arabs, she said, won’t know peace until they learn how to stop fighting.
Have you got that little anecdote fixed firmly in your head? Good. Now read this news story Sadie sent me:
Fifteen people were killed or injured in tribal fighting in Yemen after a male donkey chased an ass and raped it just near the house of its owner.
Newspapers in Yemen said the owner of the ass got mad after he saw the donkey attacking his animal, prompting him to chase the donkey and hit it.
The attack infuriated the donkey owner, who called his armed tribe men and asked them to take revenge.
“The problem snowballed into an armed fight between Makabis tribe, which owns the donkey, and Bani Abbas which owns the ass…15 people were either killed or injured in the battle,” the Saudi Arabic language daily Aleqtisadiah said, quoting newspapers in Yemen.
Read the rest here.
Let me repeat what that lovely Syrian lady told me all those years ago: Arabs won’t know peace until they learn how to stop fighting.