Hateful Cousins


What is she, Arab or Jewess?

The general assumption is that all Saudis are Muslims. If, within 300 years since the first revelation, Islam had spread across the Arabian Peninsula, then every Saudi should – at least – not be Jewish, right?

So goes the theory.

Stop reading here if you’re sensitive about this. I try not to offend anyone. Though I realize that I can’t make EVERYONE happy. Move on if this isn’t working for you.

If a girl who is neither Jewish or Arab hangs out with either for the first time, she will have a hard time making out the difference between the two races.

The very reason why I suspect in Jewish Saudis is because the typical Arab is so much like the typical Jew. (I realize I’m dreadfully stereotyping here.)

In fact, Jews and Arabs came from the same origins. The languages, the physical features, the names of days, the tendency to argue incessantly, the food and that deep hate towards each other. At a glance, these everyday things can make it hard to differentiate between an Arab and a Jew.

So why can’t they socialize? Is it because familiarity breeds contempt? Why can’t they be confused for each other?

Ha. The Middle East is a region too sore with religious wars. Mention an Arab to a Jew, or a Jew to an Arab, and watch them twitch in disgust. And you can’t blame them for that anymore. Too much bad history between any two relatives tend to do that in any family.

But let’s think happy thoughts.

Anthony Lowenstein* once said, and I paraphrase, that a person who removes people from their homes, claiming lands as theirs and shedding the blood of innocents does NOT make a good Jew. (I would add: Nor Muslim, or Christian, or Communist).

If, and this is a big if, there are Jewish Saudis, then their outward behavior has been typically Arab, and exemplary for a Jew. For not only maintaining their religious core and keeping it private (as how religions should be practiced in the first place), but also by adhering to Anthony Lowenstein’s minimum standards of a good Jew.

If, again, there is a Jewish Saudi, then he’d behave as low-profiled and as effective as any old money would. (Unlike how some members of any newly Ruling Family have been known to behave when they’re bad.) The Jewish Saudi would probably look like the Starbux cafe in the Sanctuary of Mecca**: a paradoxical complexity that is being taken for granted.

Enough of this talk.

I have faith in pluralism; that people of different religious and social backgrounds can live side-by-side without bloodshed, and exchange each other’s stories without arguing.

Though, maybe not today. Not between the Jews and Arabs of the Middle East. Not in a single blog post.

* Anthony Lowenstein is a Jewish reporter and a Palestinian sympathizer.

** An Islamic tradition states something like: One of the signs to approaching Day of Judgement Day is the return of Jews to al-Madinah. If that tradition is accurate, then it's no wonder that not a lot of Muslims are fazed by the 2012 version.

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