Tag Archives: Baath

Moscow and Um Khalid’s dream

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

Part II – From Russia with Love

Part III – Moscow and Um Khalid’s dream

Like any parents, Abu Khalid and Um Khalid wanted the best for their children. Although, they both did not attend universities but they learned it is very important for their children’s future. Fatmeh, the eldest child, did not attend a university as well because of her low grades in Tawjihi (the General Secondary Examination). Luckily, she was able to attend a college in Irbid, 20 minutes by bus from their village.

The second child, Khalid, received 57% in his Tawjihi, a much lower score than his sister. Yet, Khalid’s low score was not a big issue because he is a boy and so he can go study somewhere else outside Jordan. Back then (circa 1950 to 1990) it was more common to invest in the sons’ education more than the daughters’ education because boys will become the breadwinners. And daughters will marry.

The parents wanted Khalid to become an Engineer, at least that is what Um Khalid wanted more than anyone else in the family did. Her neighbor Um Abdel Baset has an Engineer son so why cannot her son be an Engineer as well. Through Abdel Baset’s father connections he managed to admit his son to Damascus University, one of the oldest and toughest universities in the region. Abu Abdel Baset knows someone who knows someone in the Baath Party in Syria.

Back to Khalid’s family. Khalid’s grades were not enough to let him study Engineering at Damascus University nor Aleppo University. Besides, they do not have the connection Abu Abdel Bast has in Syria.

Khalid’s family heard of boys going to Moscow to study. Backed by his mother, Khalid managed to confess his father that he should go to Moscow. He told his father how when he becomes an Engineer he would get a good job in Irbid with a very good salary. The father agreed although that meant selling couple of lands that were with the family for three generations.

Khalid travels to Moscow.

To be continued …

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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 …