Posted by on October 27, 2010 in Blog
Philadelphia and Chicago (then Houston and home to an event at Georgetown). It's been busy and a learning experience. Events in Philadelphia (at Villanova and the World Affairs Council) were both great. It appears from this blog that I made at least one convert.
Not all were impressed. One distinguished gentleman followed me out of the WAC event to lecture me about the Quran. "You know," said he, "that it is a book about murder and hate..." He proceeded to quote Surah's the way some folks quote the bible, telling me that in "Chapter, such and such, verse, such and such, you know it advocates such and such." I quoted the Old Testament right back at him (with its references to God commanding the massacres of hundreds of thousands of Israel's enemies (Moabites, Canaanites, and so many others) just to let him know that anyone can play that game, if they are so inclined (I am not - but, in this case, it seemed the only way to end a tiresome conversation).
The problem was not the Quran, but his obsession and the degree that he has fueled this obsession listening to Bridget Gabriel and the like – whom he also quoted.
After a wonderful session in Chicago with their Council on Global Affairs, I walked through the windy city (and it was windy), to do a late night radio show where, once again I was reminded of the reasons why Arab Voices can be so important. Again I run into obsession: with questions almost exclusively focused on Israel, Holocaust, Sderot, Hamas, etc.
At one point, I was asked about the Arab obsession with Israel, to which I was tempted to respond "that's your obsession, not theirs - don't project." Do Arabs care about what Israel does; hate their treatment of Palestinians, Lebanon etc? Of course, they do. But is this the only thing on their mind; does it consume their days and nights, and shape and color their attitudes toward everything else? No, of course not. In fact, I wrote Arab Voices to shatter that myth, born of prejudice, which assumes that Arabs have this monomaniacal focus on Jews and Israel. Golda Meir for example once said that she "felt bad for the other side." We, she said, make music and art, love and laugh. But "they only know how to be angry and hate us." Wow! That's obsession – her’s, not "theirs". To which I would be tempted to reply, "get over yourself." But that wouldn't accomplish anything. So I wrote a book, as a corrective, instead.
That should always be our goal - to encourage, not discourage, conversation. It can be difficult, but more often than not, it will bear fruit. What do you think?