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?
To be continued …