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Being Palestinian
Makes Me Smile

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  • 20150325_zahr
    A quick lesson on “allah”
    by Amer Zahr March 24th, 2015 (14 Comments)

    Last week, in upstate New York, many residents of a small town got all bent out of shape. Pine Bush High School decided to celebrate National Foreign Language Week by reciting the Pledge of Allegiance in a few different tongues. The plan was to have students narrate the pledge in Italian, Japanese, French, Spanish, and… yes, Arabic. Well, on Wednesday, an Arabic-speaking student took to the school’s intercom and pledged allegiance to the flag in her heritage’s language.

    And exactly what you imagine might happen happened. Some students started hissing and booing, and a number of parents called the school in protest. By the end of the day, the principal announced an apology over the school’s intercom system. I guess these kids texted their parents. When I was growing up, we didn’t have cell phones. The only way your parents heard from you in school was if you got sick, got in trouble, or faked that you got sick.

    Without getting too much into the whole fiasco, I think …

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    20150318_zahr
    When racism is a minor offense
    By Amer Zahr
    March 19th, 2015 (14 Comments)

    Imagine this.

    A ninth-grader sits in school every day. He has no disciplinary problems. He is the only black student in his French class. His teacher constantly refers to him, in front of other students, as “the thug.” On one occasion, she says, “Look, the thug is here.” On another, she calls on him by saying, “Ok thug, what’s the answer?” In yet another instance, she declares, “Let’s ask the thug.” She even calls him a “thug” in other languages. The other students laugh, following their teacher’s lead. She does this for some time. On one particular day, she decides to refer to him as “the nappy-headed thug.”

    The child finally tells his father what is going on. His father approaches the school administration, complaining about the teacher’s bigoted remarks. He asks for a public apology from the teacher. He is told he will receive no such thing. The father then approaches the press to tell his son’s story.

    We all know what happens next. Al Sharpton shows up at …

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    20150312_zahr
    She wished there were more Palestinians like me
    By Amer Zahr
    March 12th, 2015 (11 Comments)

    This past Monday night, I participated in a panel debate at the Jewish Community Center in West Bloomfield, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit. The panel consisted of five Jewish Americans and me, a Palestinian American. The audience was almost entirely Jewish, with a couple Palestinians. Somehow, my eyes found them immediately. Basically, it was about two hundred Jews and three of us. It reminded me of my numerous flights to Tel Aviv.

    We were discussing the upcoming elections in Israel, and I was asked to speak in light of the emergence of the Joint Arab List, a new force in Israeli politics that has consolidated the once-fragmented Arab parties into one new group. (Yes, I’m a comedian, but I can speak in full sentences as well.) This new faction is expected to win a significant amount of seats in next week’s elections.

    The event was organized by Michigan’s chapter of the Zionist Organization of America. Now, before my BDS friends lose their minds, I was not “normalizing.” …

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    20150228_zahr
    We need to talk about white people
    By Amer Zahr
    February 28th, 2015 (10 Comments)

    We spend a lot of our time talking about immigrants, minorities, and foreigners.  But we almost never talk about white people.  And we should.  After all, there’s so many of them.  According to the 2010 US Census, the United States contains 223,553,265 of them.  They make up 72.4% of the country’s population.  (For some reason, that number also includes all of our nation’s Arab Americans, but that’s another question for another day.)

    Despite their strong numbers, many white people feel that they are losing their country.  And, well, they are right.  Many social scientists have proposed that by 2042 white Americans will become a minority, just like the rest of us.  And they don’t seem too comfortable with that.  They want their country back. Yes, “their” country.  See, white Americans believe something essential about themselves.  It’s something that the rest of us can’t really grasp.  Simply put, they believe that this country belongs to them.

    Why do I say this?  Well, I went to school in this country, in a community …

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    20150214_zahr
    From ‘American Sniper’ to Chapel Hill
    By Amer Zahr
    February 14th, 2015 (8 Comments)

    After Tuesday’s events in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, some are saying that the triple murder of Deah Barakat, Yusor Abu-Salha, and Razan Abu-Salha was just an ordinary neighbor dispute with a horrific outcome. As Craig Hicks’ lawyer told a judge, “Unfortunately these victims were there at the wrong time at the wrong place.” (Someone will have to explain to me how your own home can ever be “the wrong place.”)

    News outlets tell us that Hicks is an “angry man,” that he was known as an “equal opportunity offender.” They tell us these victims just happened to be Muslim. They tell us they could have been anything. They tell us it was about parking.

    If you believe these three victims were killed over a parking spot, then you probably still bake cookies for Santa Claus.

    Well, we Muslim and Arab Americans see things a little differently. And maybe it’s because we live in a different world. We’ve been saying that anti-Arab and anti-Muslim bigotry has reached dangerous levels. We …

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    20150211_zahr
    Murdered for being Muslim, and the news is unfazed
    By Amer Zahr
    February 11th, 2015 (11 Comments)

    The killing of young, promising college students would normally be a pretty big story.  Shootings on or near campuses are usually a hot topic for cable news outlets.  The horrific execution of three young Americans would ordinarily dominate our televisions.

    This morning I woke up to the tragic news of the murders of Deah Shaddy Barakat, 23, Yusor Abu-Salah, 21, and Razan Abu-Salah, 19.  Deah and Yusor were recently married, and Razan was Yusor’s sister.  They were a family.  And they were killed by a white man, 46-year-old Craig Stephen Hicks.  I learned about their killings through a text message as I was just waking up.  Then I did what I always do each morning.  I turned on CNN.

    CNN would give me more info, right?  It had to be the top story, right?  This must be hot news, right?

    As I switched to CNN, I felt a weird sense of anticipation.  Arabs and Muslims are always in the news, but not like this.  I was wondering how CNN might …

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    20150130_zahr
    There are no excuses for ‘American Sniper’
    By Amer Zahr
    January 31st, 2015 (4 Comments)

    By most accounts, American Sniper depicts its Arab Iraqi subjects in a simplistic and shallow fashion.  No one has accused director Clint Eastwood of portraying the Arab characters of the film in a manner that is nuanced or layered.

    And I don’t mean to be too elementary, but that is really all that matters.  When a movie like this, like many others before it, simply treats Arabs and Muslims as either villains or helpless victims, we need not delve any further.  We should simply call American Sniper what it is: racist.

    Sure, the acting is good.  The cinematography is good.  There’s a struggle.  There’s a love story.  But it’s racist.  So that’s it.

    Earlier this week, in a column for CNN, Dean Obeidallah analyzed the film.  Dean is perhaps the most recognizable Arab American commentator in the media.  He frequently writes for CNN and The Daily Beast, and he periodically appears on cable news networks offering commentary.  Also, he recently debuted a weekly radio show on Sirius.

    Dean has …

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    20150123_zahr
    Why is Netanyahu crashing Congress? By Amer Zahr January 24th, 2015 (7)
    20150116_zahr
    Where do I apply for “terrorism expert”? By Amer Zahr January 16th, 2015 (12)
    20150109_zahr
    I refuse to condemn By Amer Zahr January 9th, 2015 (28)
    20141226_zahr
    Jerusalem, Yerushalayim, (Al-Quds) By Amer Zahr December 26th, 2014 (19)
    20141226_khalifeh
    Santa, All I want for Christmas is… By Hadeel Khalifeh December 26th, 2014 (0)
    20141102_oudeh
    Ten ways you might be an Arab By Sam Oudeh November 2nd, 2014 (2)
    20141009_zahr
    Headline: America still clueless about Islam By Amer Zahr October 9th, 2014 (5)
    20140926_jallad
    A Palestinian wish By Nadine Jallad September 26th, 2014 (3)
    20140917_oudeh
    Ten things you need to know about Arabs By Sam Oudeh September 17th, 2014 (122)
    20140902_zahr
    The occupier has no clothes! By Amer Zahr September 4th, 2014 (5)
    20140828_zahr
    Where is my black president? By Amer Zahr August 28th, 2014 (8)
    20140827_zeidan
    The jobless activist? By Lexi Zeidan August 27th, 2014 (0)
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    Why my test score is different than yours By Lexi Zeidan August 20th, 2014 (2)
    20140815_zahr
    Being black, being Palestinian By Amer Zahr August 17th, 2014 (5)
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    Light at the end of the tunnel By Lexi Zeidan August 8th, 2014 (0)
    20140808_naji
    Tyrant on FX… Not so racist after all By Firas Naji August 8th, 2014 (2)
    20140808_oudeh
    Israel’s new plan of self-defense By Sam Oudeh August 8th, 2014 (5)
    20140805_zahr
    The accents of the Israeli team By Amer Zahr August 6th, 2014 (35)
    20140730_zahr
    What is Netanyahu up to? By Amer Zahr August 2nd, 2014 (7)
    20140728_elnajjar
    Losing my mind in Gaza! By Dalia Alnajjar July 28th, 2014 (1)
    20140723_zahr
    To Jon Stewart… thanks, and no thanks By Amer Zahr July 23rd, 2014 (36)
    20140720_zahr
    Israel, listen, I know what I’m talking about By Amer Zahr July 20th, 2014 (4)
    20140719_khatib
    From a mother In Gaza By Maysoon Khatib July 20th, 2014 (4)
    20140718_zahr
    Palestinians need to act appropriately By Amer Zahr July 19th, 2014 (11)
    20140718_muaddi
    Informed Compassion: Reflection on the events of July 16, 2014 By Susan Muaddi Darraj July 18th, 2014 (0)
    20140716_kemp
    Celebrating, Lebanese-style By Michelle Nasrine Kemp July 16th, 2014 (0)
    20140716_oudeh
    The Facebook Intifada By Sam Oudeh July 16th, 2014 (0)
    20140716_hassan
    Palestinian will cannot be broken By Zaha Hassan July 16th, 2014 (1)
    20140716_zahr
    Israel never surprises me By Amer Zahr July 15th, 2014 (8)
    20140709_kemp
    Fellaheen rule! By Michelle Nasrine Kemp July 10th, 2014 (1)
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