Wednesday, July 01, 2009

An Israeli-Arab by the waters of Babylon

In this hilarious send-up of last week's Cambridge conference Jews of Arab culture the Israeli-Arab comic writer Sayed Kashua recognises the politcally-motivated absurdity of lumping together Jews from Arab countries with Arab writers in Israel in the same programme (with thanks: iraqijews):

"On our first night in Cambridge I cursed out two learned Englishmen in gray suits. "Yal'an abu abuk ya kalb," I hissed at George at around three in the morning. "What's wrong with you?" whispered an Israeli colleague, an Iraqi Jew from the literature department, as he grabbed my hands and led me away from George. "This is England; that kind of cursing won't do."

"I was tired, crabby and hungry - mostly hungry. We landed at midnight, according to Big Ben. The organizers had promised me a ride to Cambridge, but a half hour of searching for a driver holding a sign bearing my name, or a taxi with any connection to Cambridge, turned up nothing. I called George, asked him to forgive me for ringing at such a late hour, and explained my problem. "They're waiting for you," the Englishman told me. "They're looking for you," he explained, and he gave me precise instructions on how to find my ride.

"Dragging my suitcase along, I wondered just who was waiting for me. I followed George's instructions to the letter and all I found was an orange minibus with a sign on it that read "Iraqi Jewish literature." That can't be for me, I thought, but I went up to the minibus anyway to ask the driver. "You're Mr. Kashua?" the driver asked, annoyed. "Yes," I answered, and he immediately took the suitcase, tossed it in the luggage compartment and told me to get on board. Sitting in the minibus were many Iraqis from Israel. I recognized a few writers, two professors and an oud player."

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