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May 12, 1989 - Image 95

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1989-05-12

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

BETH ABRAHAM
HILLEL MOSES

The Many Similarities

REBECCA CRISS

Imlay City High School

I

n recent years Arabs and
Jews have been at war
with each other. Verbal
— assaults and bloody confron-
tations have filled the lives of
those who live in the Middle
East. All Americans are con-
cerned with the fate of those
. ._ who are suffering, but
Americans who have ties to
the Middle East share that
suffering. For peace to come to
that troubled part of the
world and end the anguish of
all concerned, Arabs and
Jews must realize the
cultural bond they share.
The history of Arab and
Jewish civilization is marred
by the persecution of Euro-
pean powers. Many foreigners
have attempted to label the
Arabs and Jews as incompe-
tent and evil. They sought to
enslave or even eliminate the
Middle Eastern cultures,
thereby seizing their land for
themselves. Whether the
persecutors were Nazis, in the
case of the Jews, or the
British and French, in the
case of the Arabs, the result
was the same: mistrust of out-
siders and a lingering sense of
oppression. An unswerving
resolve to never again allow
the enslavement of their peo-
ple and the desire to give
their children a happier life
are more positive conse-
quences of their experience.

This determination,
however, has led people of
other ethnic backgrounds to
see the Arabs and Jews as
grasping and greedy in their
demands for land and other
possessions and rights.
Harsh, unfounded stereotypes
such as these can only lead to
increased discrimination and
bitter feelings on all sides.
The facts are these: Jews are
not money-grubbing, com-
plainers and Arabs are not
fanatical terrorists.
America has brought peo-
__ ple of different cultures
together and given them the
chance to challenge these
stereotypes. Those of us of
Semitic descent see the truth:
we are simply people. We have
the same dreams and aspira-
tions that others have.
Perhaps we are misunder-
stood because we refuse to let
the world forget the profound
suffering our peoples have
experienced.
What has helped the Arab
and Jewish communities
through those difficult times
has been our cultural ties, our
reserve of faith and our strong
family bonds. We came from
the same part of the world

originally. Our cultures are
linked in a variety of ways,
from the foods we eat to the
style of our traditional music.
When our families came to
America, they brought their
customs with them to ensure
the passage of those treasured
practices to future
generations.
Religion has always been an
integral part of the lives of
those in the Middle East.
Some have fought and died
for their beliefs. Religion is
also one of the things that
draws families together. The
rituals of prayer and celebra-
tion, whether Judaic, Islamic
or Christian, provide con-
tinuity and stability to fami-
ly life and give parents a
chance to introduce their
faith to their children. In
Semitic cultures a family's
religious habits come before
all other matters.
Just as Arab and Jewish
families thrive on shared
faith, we also flourish on our
connections to loved ones.

The well-being of the fami-
ly unit, including even dis-
tant relatives, is of para-
mount importance to
American Jews and Arabs. In
my own case, my grand-
parents sacrificed much in
order to provide my father
and his 12 brothers and
sisters with a college educa-
tion. Later all but one of my
father's 'siblings came to this
country. They immigrated to
stay together as a family.
Arabs and Jews have much
more in common that there is
to keep them apart. All one
has to do to see the connec-
tions is to look at our roots.
Our cultures are built on
many of the same corner-
stones. We have both faced
persecution and prejudice.
Because of these shared
bonds, and with little regard
for the gulf that supposedly
separates Jews and Arabs,
friendships can evolve bet-
ween the Semitic peoples. I
am an Arab and 'my best
friend ever since we were
young children is Jewish.
Minor differences in religion,
culture and outlook are not
barriers between us. Instead,
they open our minds and
hearts to the reality that peo-
ple have a kinship which lies
below the surface of national
rivalries.
I believe that we are ap-
proaching a time when the
'differences that exist between
ourselves and people who are
of other nationalities and
religions will be overlooked.
The strife between the Jews
and the Arabs will end
because Jewish and Arab

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THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

95

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