Comedian | Professor | Writer
(& Smartest) Arab
The life of a Palestinian can be pretty depressing. We have to deal with dispossession and the refugee life. Then there’s all the racism. And don’t forget the media misrepresentation, military occupation, checkpoints, and seizure of resources. Being Palestinian is relentless. There are no breaks. Just when it looks like everything’s OK, someone calls us “invented,” or “barbaric,” or “resentful,” or “hateful.” Those of us in Palestine have to deal with daily humiliation. Those of us everywhere else have to deal with daily explaining. “Have you heard of Theodore Herzl? Or the Balfour Declaration? Resolution 194?… OK, sit down, I’m gonna make coffee.”
But the worst part of being Palestinian, by far, is watching Israelis steal our stuff. I don’t mean stealing our land, demolishing homes, and building settlements. Yeah, all that’s bad. But I’m talking about the theft of our stuff… our scenery, our architecture, and our history. Nothing makes me more angry than seeing an Israeli tanning on a Tel Aviv beach, smoking a hookah. And don’t forget about the theft of our recipes. I don’t even want to tell you how many Jewish girls I’ve had to dump over hummus. Being Palestinian means having to watch Israelis constantly pretend they are us.
If you don’t believe that Israelis are trying to be like us, just go back and watch Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech at the UN a couple weeks ago. He was rambling, spouting conspiracy theories, promoting his own cultural superiority, and talking as if he was brilliant and everyone else was dumb. Need I say more?
I’ve always said that we Palestinians are contagious. I’ve never wanted to find a cure until now.
Last week, I was watching one of my favorite shows, “Homeland.” For those who might not watch it, the show is about America’s war against terrorism. Specifically, it focuses on the CIA’s attempts to kill or capture the head of some crazy Islamic terrorist organization called “Al-Qaeda.” At first, I was offended, but then I discovered that the show’s main plotline also features a white American terrorist, so that made me feel a lot better.
Anyway, last week’s episode featured an assassination attempt on Abu Nazir, the Al-Qaeda leader. The CIA had tracked him to Beirut, and was geared to take him out. Abu Nazir survived because the white terrorist guy, who is now a congressman, tipped him off. Yes, the show has a lot of twists and turns. The scenery was great and looked strikingly authentic. Afterwards, I thought, “Wow, I wonder how an American program about assassinating an Arab got permission to film in Beirut.”
Well, my question was immediately answered. After the show concluded, Showtime aired a short segment about the assassination scene. I quickly learned that the dramatic scene was not filmed in Beirut. Instead, it was filmed right down the road in Haifa, in Israel. The director explained how Haifa was the perfect stand-in for Beirut because of its “textures” and “Arabic face.”
I’m sure the producers of American-made “Homeland” had no problem getting permission from the Israeli Culture Ministry’s film commission to film there. $5 billion a year should get us Americans certain privileges. I mean, I don’t get any privileges when I go there, but whatever.
I can just imagine the conversation between the director of “Homeland” and the head of the Israel’s film commission:
Israel: Almost kill? We’d be happy to give you lessons.
Director: No, it’s fake… we’re shooting a TV show, and we need a place that looks like Beirut.
Israel: Well, you know we are a western democracy with western culture and ideals, right?
Director: Yeah, of course.
Israel: Then why are you calling us?
Director: Well, I just thought…
Israel: Ha ha, just kidding, you need an Arab-looking city, right?
Israel: No problem habibi, we have lots of those… I’ll send you a list.