10 - The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, April 21, 2004
Why is it so easy to
discriminate against Arabs,
Palestinians, and MuslimsO
The Justice Department fingerprints all visitors and
immigrants from Arab and Muslim countries, despite
their personal histories. They say they will eventually
fingerprint all visitors from all countries, but have yet to
finalize plans to do so. Imagine if we started
fingerprinting everyone from African and Latin countries
in order to stop drug trafficking!
What's the first word you think of when someone says
"Arab"? "Muslim"? "Palestinian"?
When is the last time you can remember seeing a positive
image of an Arab in any movie or TV show?
There are over 3 million Arab-Americans in this
country... We're not all terrorists, we promise.
About 40% of all Arab-Americans are Christians. Only
about 20% of world Muslims are Arab.
A recent U-M study showed that "people who are
prejudiced against Arabs are likely to discriminate
against them when they think that no one will find out."
(University Record, March 22, 2004)
Who is the most famous African-American you can think
of? MLK? Malcolm X? Muhammad Ali? The most
famous Latin-American? J-Lo? Cesar Chavez? The most
famous Asian? Jackie Chan? The most famous Indian?
Gandhi? How about the most famous Arab? Osama?
Saddam? Arafat? How about the most famous Arab in
America? Can't think of any?
It is difficult to be openly proud of being Arab and
simulatenously succeed today in America... many Arabs
are forced to choose between their heritage and social
acceptance. Since being an Arab is not always visual,
many in our community cover their identities, either by
hiding it or lying about it. Sadly, the reality of deep
political discrimination touches every Arab-American,
causing them to continuously have to assert their
patriotism. Arabs, though they have been in this country
as long as Irish and Italian-Americans, are still seen as
foreigners, as a danger to all of "us."
Maybe it's easy to discriminate against Palestinians when
Israeli prime ministers tell us they don't even exist:
"There is no such thing as a Palestinian people... It is not as
if we came and threw them out and took their country.
They didn't exist."
- Golda Meir, statement to The Sunday Times, 15 June, 1969.
"How can we return the occupied territories? There is
nobody to return them to."
- Golda Meir, March 8, 1969.
Or maybe it is easy to believe Palestinian mothers send their
children to die for money when they tell us they are animals:
"[The Palestinians] are beasts walking on two legs."
-- Menachem Begin, speech to the Knesset, June 25,1982.
"(The Palestinians) would be crushed like grasshoppers...
heads smashed against the boulders and walls."
- Yitzhak Shamir in a speech to Jewish settlers, New York Times, April 1, 1988.
"The Palestinians are like crocodiles, the more you give
them meat, they want more" ...
- Ehud Barak, August 28, 2000. Reported in the Jerusalem Post August 30, 2000
Do Palestinians have any right of self-determination?
"It is the duty of Israeli leaders to explain... that there is no
Zionism, colonialization, or Jewish State without the
eviction of the Arabs and the expropriation of their lands."
- Ariel Sharon, Agence France Presse, November 15, 1998.
"Israel should have exploited the repression of the
demonstrations in China (referring to the Tiananmen
Square protests), when world attention focused on that
country, to carry out mass expulsions among the Arabs of
- Benyamin Netanyahu, Israeli journal Hotam, November 24, 1989.
Imagine if a world leader called blacks crocodiles, or Jews
beasts... surely, and rightly, the outrage would be huge.
Have Arab leaders said harmful things about Jews and
Israelis? Yes. It is wrong no matter who utters it.
Israel receives $5 billion from American taxpayers every
year, one-third of our entire foreign aid budget. We sustain
it. Shouldn't we expect more from her leaders?
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