From Russia with Love?

Part I – Why Russia was never the enemy but the USA is?

Part II – From Russia with Love

During the 50s, most or maybe all Arab countries became independent. Arab governments wanted to build their countries so they started sponsoring their best students to study abroad. North African countries sent their talented students, even Muslim scholars, to France and the Levant countries sent theirs to Russia. For this reason, there are plethora of French and Russian literature translated into Arabic.

In Jordan for example, we read a few of Maxim Gorky’s novels while in high school. At that time, I could even name few prominent Russian novelists. If that was not enough, I actually read few of their short stories that were outside of the school curriculum. Unlike English literature, were sisters living in big nice houses in the countryside tricking charming men for marriage, Russian literature felt more realistic to Arabs. Russians lived a harsh life. Russian writers describe a life full of misery and disappointment. Their stories do not end with the protagonists getting married or achieving their goal. You can hardly find an educated Arab who has not read Russian short stories or novels. We got used to the tragedy in their novels.

This type of literature found a new reader based in the Arab land and supported by The Arab Nationalist Movement. Arab nationalists became heroes. Until this time, there are group of Arabs who call themselves Nasseri (i.e., a follower of the ideology of the former Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser.) Nasser was in office between 1950 to 1970. He was for many Arabs a hero who was a socialist and anti-imperialist.

Egypt was not alone in its Nasserisim against imperialism and pro-socialism. Iraq and Syria adapted an Arab nationalist socialist movement called Al-Ba’ath party. This party was in full throttle supporting The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO.)

These movements were very popular among Arabs. It was time for Arabs to stand up for themselves after being silenced by the European colonization and the Turks before that. The mood then was the unity of Arabs against the imperialism. However, why it was the USA only that was and still been hated more than any Western Country?

Enter Israel.

To be continued …

Why Russia was never the enemy but the USA is?

Some young Arab men discovered that they did not have to believe in God to go or see heaven. They found it on earth without any effort from their side. It was right in front of their eyes. They actually lived in it. Maybe, it would be a better description if we said they lived it; they lived the heaven life. No hot dusty desert but cold and beautiful green sceneries. There, they saw breathtaking women they have never seen anything like them. Women who were very similar to how some Imams described during Jumu’ah (Friday) prayer. Gorgeous women with milky and pearls-like skin. However, it would have not been heaven if they could not touch these angelic women. In this place so called heaven, touching these women was not an issue. In the promised heaven, a man can have more than one woman. In this new discovered land, these young Arab men satisfied their fantasies. The more women they wanted the more they got.

The paragraph above is not an introduction to a short story but a period of time some young Arab men experienced. Between some times in 1950 to 1990, this newfound land although felt like being in heaven was actually known as The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). Also known as Russia.

So, beside the breathtaking women what else happened in Russia?

Everything exciting happened.

to be continued…

Jasmine

Every day…
He sneaks in violating her safety.
She shivers but stays quiet.
He holds her arms tightly.
She trembles out of fear.
He breathes rapidly with every move of his body.
She can barely breath under his heavy weight.
Drops of stinky sweat touches her naked body.
A line of tears runs down her beautiful eyes.
He then roars the sign of victory.
She squats in the corner, silently.

Now…
She lives in despair.
Her children are abandoned.
Her father is her rapist.

Once…
She was so beautiful.
She smelled like jasmine.
She had a pride and dignity.

Her name was Syria.
But now I recognize here no more.

My epiphany moment

I am not sure when, maybe one or two years ago, that I started drifting away from my plan. When I came to the U.S. to do my PhD my plan was to return back to Jordan as soon as I am done.  But life in the U.S. is so easy compared to anywhere else.  Living in the U.S. is very comfortable and it is a lovely place to be.

Two weeks or so ago I had my epiphany moment. I was sure what I want to do in my life. I am determined now to finish my PhD and go back to Jordan. I want to tech in Jordan and start a family there.

There are so many reasons that make me want to live in the U.S. But there are also so many other reasons that make me want to settle in Jordan. My number one reason is family. Being close to my parents, sister, brothers and my nieces and nephews makes me happy.

On another level, I think I have gained lots of experience in my 11 years studying and working in the U.S. Here, there are thousands of Computer Science PhD holders. Working in the U.S. may satisfy my eagerness for excellence  in academia and my hunger for financial satisfaction. But life is more than that.

I am writing this post to keep my promise. This is not going to be a one time post. I am going to keep updating it, hopefully. Writing things I want to do in Jordan, places nearby that I want to visit.

When I visited Jordan back in January 2013, I noticed how Jordan became a hub for its troubled neighboring countries. Syrian refugees, Iraqi immigrants, Yemeni and Khaliji (Arab Gulf) college students, Libyan patients coming to Jordan for its good reputation in medical care in the region. Jordan became a multicultural  country and I like that.

I want to teach Arab students but more important I want also to learn from this young Arab generation how did they manage to break the hardest taboo. I want to ask them how does it feel to not be afraid of the Mukhabarat. How did they manage to say enough is enough. The future of the Arab region is so promising. It is of course going to get worse before we can see the light at the end of the tunnel. But I want to be there hoping I can also make a change. I like teaching and I believe it is an honorable job.

Here is a video I want to share with you about the beauty of our Arab region. A country that I always dreamed of visiting but didn’t get the chance to is Lebanon. Here is a beautiful video from Lebanon. 

Americans are aware of the crises in the Middle East

Yesterday at 11 pm, I received an email from one of my employers. She is an American professor.

Hi Malik

I hope that your friends and family in Jordan are staying safe with all that is happening in nearby Syria.  The news just seems to get worse and worse from that corner of the world.    Just wanted you to know that I am thinking about you.

Best,

From her email, one might think she knows a lot about me. Actually, she does not. We meet once a semester and then continue our communication via emails. She is not on Facebook to read my status and I had never told her anything about my family. All what she knows about me which I mentioned only once is that I am from Jordan.

Back in 2005, another American professor, who I was her TA, stopped me in the department’s hall and asked me about my family in Jordan when she heard about the 2005 bombings in Amman. Many other Arab graduate students shared with me their American advisers’ concern about their family in Egypt or Syria or where ever that student is from.

These type of emails or the small kind gestures or words from the American professors might seem insignificant to some people but it has a huge effect on these foreign Arab students in the U.S. who are doing their best while being away from their families and friends. This is something modest that I wanted to share with the Arab readers about something they do not hear about from the media.

Like farting on a tile floor

The status of Arabs these days observing from a far the Syrian children been annihilated by the Syrian regime (by using Chemical weapons) under the support of the Russian government reminded me of an Arab proverb. The proverb is “like farting on a tile floor.” Example, Arabs these days are like farting on a tile floor. Meaning they all about talk but no action. p.s, farting on a tile floor produces loud noise.

All Arabs need to have one goal now. SAVE THE SYRIAN CHILDREN!

Al Jazeera America is not Al Jazeera English?

It seems Al Jazeera America is not the same as Al Jazeera English [source].

Fox news has its agenda and loyal audience. MSNBC has its agenda and loyal audience. I wonder what Al Jazeera America (different from Al Jazeera English) agenda and who will be its audience?

Thick dough with lots of tomato sauce topped with lots of meat and veggies doesn’t taste like the Italian Pizza. Also, there is a reason we don’t see Asians in Chinese buffets in the USA. Because the food there is not really very Chinese.

To attract audience and most importantly advertisers what new taste Al Jazeera America is going to serve?

I am happy for them and their success but I doubt it will last here in the U.S.

The business of name calling in the Arab world

The trend of “name calling” in the Arab countries became very dangerous. And with every Muslim Scholar having his own YouTube channel and a show on TV it became a profitable business. Not to forget journalists who have their TV shows and who are benefiting from spreading hate. It works as follows:

1. You choose a side,
2. Find a TV show that agrees with your views,
3. You take everything said in the show as facts,
4. Start hating others and calling them names.

“The First Amendment to the United States Constitution guarantees freedom of speech, which allows political organizations great latitude in expressing Nazi, racist, anti-Semitic, and Neo-Confederate views.” Therefore, the Neo-Nazi group exist in the US and it is not considered a terrorist group. On the other hand, Arab governments are calling the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist group just because they can define whoever what they want. These same Arab governments can execute a 22-years-old kid because they decided he is a Kafir (non-believer) over something he tweeted (kid you not).

My point is, calling someone a Kafir or a terrorist just because it suits us is seriously dangerous.

Three failed approaches to change the mindset of people

Changing the mindset of people about something they already have an opinion about is not easy; it takes lots of money and time. Even for some businesses their well studied advertisements do not help when they try to promote something new. In many cases, change might be almost impossible. Here are three different approaches to change the mindset of people. Unfortunately, none of these ways achieved its purpose.

I Promotion:

When Coca Cola reentered the Middle East back in the early 90s*, a story circulated among Jordanians. Coca Cola Jordan office wanted to promote their red product so they went to crowded neighborhoods and held very big events that included bands singing, giving prizes and what not. The Coca Cola press reporter was on the scene in one of these events interviewing people. He stopped a young man and asked him what he thinks about the event. The man answered “It is a lovely event. Some people came to our neighborhood, gave us red T-shirts, red bags, and even some people won red cars and we drank lots of Pepsi for free.”

II Time

I heard this story from my father. Back in the days in Jordan, there was no running water in villages. Mothers and daughters used to fetch water from a nearby well, lake or spring. Some boys used to go there as well to flirt with girls. One day, a teenage boy accidently farted in front of all the women. Everyone has heard the fart and started laughing at the young man. Since then the well was nicknamed Abu Thrat’s Well. The well took the new nickname of the boy which is ‘Farty.’ The young man felt ashamed of his new nickname and decided to travel away. Twenty years later he came back to his home town. He was so excited and happy to see his old village until he overheard a kid shouting to his peers “let’s go play near that old Abu thrat’s well.”

III Money

The Arabian Gulf countries especially Saudi Arabia and UAE spent billions of dollars to make their countries known not as just rich desert oil countries but as world leaders in tallest towers and luxurious hotels. Dubai and Abu Dhabi are competing against each others to become the Singapore of the business district and the Monaco of tourism (without the gambling) in the Middle East.

One very important reason the Arab Gulf countries are so adamant to prove themselves in any way is because they want to change the mindset of non-Arabs. Only the Arab countries refer to the gulf between the Arab Gulf countries and Iran as the Arabian Gulf. The rest of the worlds call it the Persian Gulf.

If you read the caption on the picture below you will see what I mean.

IMG_0289 IMG_0290
 No matter how much is being spent the world still calls it the Persian Gulf. [Click on picture to enlarge]

So, the question is why it is almost impossible to change the perception of people about an issue they already have an opinion about?

Do you know other stories in which people wouldn’t change their mindset or perception about something?


*”The Arab League boycotted Coca-Cola from August 1968 to May 1991, as part of the economic boycott of Israel.” [Source]