Just recently in thinking about Ben Carson and Bobby Jindal, I suggested in a post on FB that some Republicans of color work hard at whitewashing their public persona. A couple of people suggested my comments were racist. If a person doesn’t take pride in their own religious, cultural or racial heritage and dedicates his/her life to mimicking the beliefs, values, rhetoric and prejudices of the tribe he or she most admires, who’s really the racist?
As a Jew and a Zionist, I took great pride in the remarks offered Sherif Gaber in this video. Then I challenged myself to consider whether or not I was not guilty of double standard. Afterall, isn’t Gaber essentially saying that the Jews and Israel -who are the sworn enemies of much of the Arab world, aren’t deserving of all that enmity? Is Sherif Gaber not guilty of rejecting his own heritage to celebrate someone else’s?
No. Sherif Gaber has no desire to be Jewish or live in Israel. In fact, in spite of being arrested and charged with “promoting immoral values” by Egyptian security forces, he has chosen to remain a Muslim living in Egypt. Gaber’s message, unlike that of say of a Clarence Thomas type conservative Black Republican is not, I’m going to reject my heritage and act like the most zealot member of another group, rather it’s just the opposite. Gaber is saying to his fellow Arabs, get past the argument about whether or not the Jews and Israel belong in this part of the world and let’s take full advantage of what they have accomplished in the cause of improving our own countries. Look at where we are and where Israel is in regard to democracy, human rights, technology, education, etc? Can we really afford to hate them and want to destroy them? For what purpose?
That’s a far cry from Bobby Jindal trying to act more Christian than the Pope or Ben Carson using classic white Christian conservative prejudices about abortion, gays and Muslims as a platform for his Presidential campaign.
In listening to Sherif Gaber I hear a proud Egyptian Muslim reading his own family the riot act about the energy and resources being wasted on hate. History has proven that no government, no religious tradition or national state can survive and flourish if their primary mission statement has more to do with the vilification of others than building a better world. Sherif Gaber gets that and wishes Muslims in general and his fellow Egyptians in particular would put more time and energy into building successful, affluent, democratic state, dare I say, like Israel.
(Unfortunately since this article was originally posted, the edition of the video with English subtitles has been removed from You Tube. Here is the original video with Hebrew subtitles.)