Well, originally I didn’t intend to write here about politics, but I guess that saying something like that in the middle east is like saying that you’re not gonna think about sex during an orgy.
So that’s the deal: A couple of weeks ago, the New York Times dedicated two articles to the urban culture of two Israeli cities: Tel-Aviv and Haifa. Funnily enough, the original headline of the article about Haifa was “In Israeli City of Haifa, a Liberal Palestinian Culture Blossoms”(which I highly recommend to read here).
This headline has obviously made some people very pissed-off, namely: Israelis who were offended by the claim that there’s a “Palestinian culture” inside the borders of Israel, and Palestinians who didn’t like to see Haifa described as an “Israeli city”. Yes, welcome to the Holy Land: where people are pathetically touchy and insecure about anything that has to do with their little fragile national identity.
It seems to me that both of the “offended” parts by the NYT headline, share something in common: they are both denying reality.
This is not a secret that about 20% of Israeli citizens are Arabs. In Israel they are being mainly referred to as “Israeli-Arabs”, to stress out the difference between them and the Palestinians that are living in the Palestinian Authority and Gaza. But the reality is, that many of them are openly identifying themselves as Palestinians, or at least “Israeli-Palestinians” – meaning, Palestinians with an Israeli passport. And why wouldn’t they? After all, they are ethnically similar to the Palestinians inside the green line, they speak more-or-less the same dialect, and many of them even have relatives there. This is perfectly normal, and you can find this also in other areas of ethnic dispute – like for example the ex-Yugoslavian Kosovo Republic, where there are minorities which are obviously identifying themselves as Serbs, even though they have a Kosovarian citizenship, and they vote at the Kosovarian national elections, just like Israeli-Palestinians vote at the Israeli ones. Nevertheless, in Kosovo, so it seems, nobody says to them “why are you calling yourselves Serbs and not Kosovarian-Slavs, huh?!”
Unfortunately, however, nobody listens to me, and that’s why(probably because of Zionist-readers’ complaints) the NYT article’s headline was eventually altered from “Palestinian culture” to “Arab culture”…
From the Palestinian side, however, harsh criticism about this article actually came from one of the main interviewees in it: Ayed Fadel, the owner of Kabareet nightspot. He wrote:
First of all I think that this interview was my last interview ever, I am done with media!! In Arabic we say KHALLASNA !
I actually found this piece disturbing. It refers to certain aspects and neglects so many others that I personally mentioned during the interview, it portrays the modern Palestinian in a “Western” image that comforts white readers and make them say, “oh, they’re just like us!” Well no, we’re nothing like them, in fact, we’re very different and deep into the shit, and having to portray us in this image is insulting.
On the other hand, I do agree our community has developed and evolved and I love going to the places mentioned in this article, they feel like home, and because they feel like home, it’s disturbing the way they were illustrated.
While I do understand the writer and what she tried to convey, and I appreciate the effort being put in investigating this topic, but it’s a wider topic than this, and can’t be summarized in one article, there are so many points missing, crucial ones, that the lack of them make this article shallow, offensive and degrading.
Plus on that 90% of the interview we were talking about how the culture of the cultural resistance is growing and taking a place in so many levels, such as music, art, spaces etc. And how the Palestinian underground scene is getting bigger and bigger and full of creativity and how literally it is being a place full of intelligence and rebel agenda.
About quoting me: “We want a gay couple to go to the dance floor and kiss each other, and nobody to even look at them, this is the new Palestinian society we are aiming for.” Yes I did say that, but it was a whole build up for the conversation until I reached this sentence, and I was actually trying to explain how Haifa became a place where everyone can feel safe and comfortable, so I used one of the most extremist views that our society could accept. Also mentioning the Kooz queer film festival that we hosted without mentioning that one of the most important topics in it was the Israeli pink washing- IS MISLEADING – especially when I’ve been totally used as a “pink washer” with the quote above!!
I don’ know if what I am writing now is even enough to cover all what have been written in this article, but hopefully that could explain the situation and make it more clear that it was another trap by the white media, that is always trying to show us as the cool yay hipsters full of tattoos and piercings – far away from the grounded reality that we are facing and fighting every day!
We agreed to do this, thinking the results would be different, but they weren’t. Last chance given to white media and media in general, next time we’ll be more cautious, and we don’t allow anyone to categorize us under ” Israeli City of Haifa, a Liberal Palestinian Culture Blossoms” – dear editor, please liberate your liberalism aspects.
While he has a point in some of his criticism towards this article(like the pink-washing part), I found it funny to see that while he’s claiming that they’re not at all like western hipsters, he’s responding to this article exactly in a way that a western hipster would react.
In general, his complaining about the exclusion of his political agenda from the article is kind of silly. After all, this was an article about the Palestinian nightlife culture in Haifa, and not about political activism.
Also, unlike what’s implied from his comment, I really didn’t feel at all that this article is intended to give the Israeli government a pat-on-back for being soooo liberal and soooo accepting towards ethnic and sexual minorities, but rather to describe the special and relatively tolerant environment in Haifa city – which is quite unique both for the Jewish and the Arab societies in the Holy Land.
The funniest part, though, was when the guy wrote:
“this interview was my last interview ever, I am done with media!”
Dude, I have no doubt that the thousands of “white-press” reporters that were counting on interviewing you would be deeply disappointed!
Well, I think that’s all with Dead City Radio for today, kids! And remember:
All nationalisms are imaginary!