Since we began our coverage of Ray Hanania, the failed comedian, Jerusalem Post (JP) columnist, newest ADC board of directors member, and Arab version of Joe the Plumber who doesn’t speak Arabic, we have noticed his alienation from the painful Palestinian experience with colonialism, ethnic cleansing, and occupation the last 100 years. We don’t necessarily blame Ray. Afterall, he was born and raised in the US, he is a product of an ill-informed, anti Palestinian political culture, and has spent very little time, if any, among the Palestinian people in the refugee camps. Neither does it appear that Ray has even done any serious reading of translated Palestinian sources or literature. However, even if we were to make allowance for Ray’s inability to communicate with Palestinians and a life spent in the distant US, his indifference to the suffering of the Palestinians, and his lack of appreciation for what the ongoing 63-year Nakba has meant to their daily lives would be unjustified even for a removed and sheltered House-Arab like Ray.
Ray Hanania vacations here
his last Jerusalem Post article the Palestinian-American Zionist says “But it’s not just maintaining a well-manicured, Malibu- lighted, dark greentrimmed carpet-of-a-lawn that my “Palestinian-ism” has impacted. It goes far beyond, including even when I go on vacation. Yes, I In don’t go on vacation to relax. I go there to sharpen my Palestinian skills. Every morning at dawn, while on vacation in places like Punta Cana or at a resort along the Cayman Island’s famous Seven Mile beach, I find myself compelled into a ‘possession jihad.’ I don’t get up and walk to the beach at six in the morning simply to enjoy the sunrise or the pristine coral sand.
My first concern is staking out beach-front lounge chairs or a palm cabana with an idyllic view of the ocean…As a Palestinian, I just have to be there first.”
We do realize our comedian remains convinced he’s a political satirist and this delusion explains much of the playground banter we read in his JP articles, but as we continue to ignore his lame attempts at humor and his use of Arabic words like Jihad whose actual definition he undoubtedly understands about as well as CNN “experts” on Islam, and like them, pronounces it as “Jeeehaaawd”, we can’t ignore his callous disregard for the plight of the Palestinians. When someone thinks of what it means to be a Palestinian (which is what we assume Ray means by “Palestinian-ism”) the image of “a well-manicured, Malibu- lighted, dark greentrimmed carpet-of-a-lawn” is the last thing that comes to the mind of anyone with a remote knowledge of Palestinian life since the violent ethnic cleansing of Palestine by European, colonial-settlers in 1947-1948.
Palestinian Refugee Camp
What does come to mind are the teeming refugee camps with their tightly-packed cinder-block homes, narrow alleyways, open sewage ditches, inadequate schools and clinics, and no streets, shops, patios, lawns, flower gardens, parks, or playgrounds. It is the harsh life of the deprived refugee camps with its abundance of courage and dignity that gave birth to the Palestinian liberation movement, and defined what it means to be a Palestinian.
If you thought the contrast between Ray’s imagination of what it means to be a Palestinian and the reality of the Palestinian Diaspora was the outer limit of insensitivity, you would be wrong. Ray went even further and descended lower by describing his vacationing on beach resorts at destinations such as the Cayman Islands as an opportunity to “sharpen” his “Palestinian skills.” Whatever this toad was doing on a beach on the Cayman Islands that early morning all alone, he definitely was not sharpening any “Palestinian skills.” Palestinian skills are developed and sharpened under occupation and in desolate refugee camps a world away from Ray’s favorite vacation spots and even further removed from his obnoxious imagination. Ray’s silly tale about the morning he set out to usurp the ideal beach spot ends with him sitting on a lounge chair to, as he described himself, “smoke a cigar with my look of conquest, a macho scrunch of thick brows and confidence.” We’re very interested to know which history book informed Ray that the Palestinians have been involved in any “conquest” in the last century.
He bizarrely portrays “Palestinian skills” as an instinct to seize land. According to him, this “possession jihad” is an intrinsic skill that manifests itself even when vacationing at beautiful beachside resorts like Punta Cana. It is unfathomable that a Palestinian-American who routinely exploits his ethnicity and heritage in pursuit of a myriad of profit-seeking adventures and self-promotion, appears unaware that the Palestinian side was the one that was dispossessed, not the dispossessor. This article would make sense if it were written by an Israeli describing his “Zionist skills” of usurping the best beachside vacation spots in Haifa, Acre (this writers favorite city on the Palestinian coast), or along the sea of Galilee, but it is appalling that Hanania reverses the basic facts of recent Palestinian history and switches the roles of colonizer and colonized.
Palestinian Refugee Camp
What the Palestinians have become skilled in over the years is survival and resistance in the most difficult living conditions. These skills can’t be sharpened sitting in a lounge chair on the “pristine coral sand” of a beach resort smoking a cigar and sipping your favorite island drink. They are learned living under military occupation, standing in line at United Nations distribution centers to receive your monthly food rations, or sitting on a cold, concrete living-room floor in a refugee camp doing your homework by candlelight. We don’t expect Ray The Comedian to understand the Palestinian reality any better than Joe The Plumber, but atleast the ignorant plumber (who wasn’t really a plumber just as Ray is not much of a comedian) never exploited their Nakba trying to make a name for himself or use it as subject matter in very unfunny comedy routines.
The Palestinian ability to endure life in the Diaspora, transform displacement into a liberation movement, and resist colonial occupation has never ceased to amaze both their enemies and their supporters. Yet through it all they excelled in the basics of reading, writing, science, and mathematics, and pursued the arts, literature, and music. In fact, the disadvantaged Palestinians have the highest college graduation rates in the Arab world. The Palestinians were also forced to develop another set of skills allowing them to survive displacement, occupation, and refugee life. So if we were to search for the meaning of “Palestinian-ism” we at ikhras suggest it is that special Palestinian quality that combines the basic skills needed by all people to grow, live and succeed in a normal life with an entirely other skill set made uniquely incumbent upon an uprooted and displaced people determined to live as free human beings in their homeland. These are the qualities that define what it means to be a Palestinian. And this is the Palestinian-ism that created a culture of resistance simultaneously making this brave people invincible while preserving their humanity in the midst of a struggle against an inhumane foe that has always operated outside of any moral constraints.
While the horrific Palestinian experience of the last 63 years is unique, the values underlying the message of the Palestinian cause are universal. As such Palestinian-ism can’t be restricted to Palestinians. It is an identity shared by all people from all backgrounds who struggle for freedom and against injustice. It’s not necessary to be a Palestinian or an Arab to understand the meaning of Palestinian-ism. Rachel Corrie, an all-American girl from Olympia, Washington understood what it meant to be a Palestinian. She was so immersed in the life of Palestinians and skilled in Palestinian-ism, she was killed trying to save a Palestinian home by a ruthless enemy that routinely kills Palestinians. Tom Hurndall, a British photography student and volunteer with the International Solidarity Movement was also a Palestinian. He was killed in the Gaza Strip as he tried to help Palestinian children paralyzed with fear get out of the Israeli army line of fire. He saved one little Palestinian girl before he was shot in the head as he came back to rescue another child. The nine Turkish peace activists killed when Israel attacked the Freedom Flotilla trying to break the siege of Gaza in the Mediterranean Sea were also Palestinians. By the time their blood washed up along the shores of Gaza Hanania was accusing them of bringing “more death and violence” and defending Israel. These people along with millions of other freedom loving people across the world have all understood the universal message of the morally compelling Palestinian cause and therefore they all share the Palestinian identity.
On the other hand, Ray’s latest rambling shows it’s possible to come from a Palestinian-Arab background, and yet be completely oblivious to the Palestinian reality and what it means to live as a Palestinian. Although his alienation is unjustified, it is excusable. What is not excusable are his morally untenable positions regarding Palestine, his continuing efforts to undermine the Palestinian cause in the US, and the callous disregard for Palestinian suffering demonstrated in all his writings. And just as we thought we were going to complete his latest JP article without any mention of his family, low and behold, his wife and son make a brief cameo appearance when they “meander along as if there were no worries in the world.” We’re grateful Ray’s family was able to enjoy a visit to a beach and return to their Mid-West, American home safely. That’s not always possible for Palestinian families. We urge Ray to watch this video of a Palestinian family that went for a picnic on a Gaza Beach. It may not be as luxurious as a resort on the Cayman Islands, but it was a trip Huda Ghalia and her family were looking forward to. After listening to the anguish in her screams as she discovers the murdered father that rewarded her for an excellent report card with that picnic on a beach, maybe Ray will apologize for his tasteless allegories. We doubt he has the character to do so, but he really should finally Ikhras!