Freedom to Hate?
‘God is great, death to America, death to Israel, damned are the Jews, victory to Islam’ the poster says. ‘This is good, this is good’ a guy shouts enthusiastically, pointing to the poster. What on earth is good about it, I want to ask. But I don’t, because I know any questions or discussion will lead us nowhere.
In the newspaper Akhbar Aljom a sportsman was openly praised for refusing to play against an Israeli opponent. On Facebook, a friend of mine published a photo of Palestinian refugees with the text ‘Only Hitler can help us’. This can be published, nobody cares.
Us and them
The problem starts when you question the wisdom - to put it mildly - of such statements. I did it with the Facebook-acquaintance. I told him I had unfriended him for his remark. He wrote back that he understood because ‘you always stand behind them’. “You” are the West, “them” are the Jews. End of discussion.
I find it very frustrating. Not because I stand behind ‘them’, that is not the case nor the point. It is because it confronts me with a side of the Yemenis I very much dislike, whereas I like the Yemenis very much. I understand their anger about the Palestinian issue, but I do not understand the pig-headedness of their reactions.
The Yemenis are not historically anti-Semitic. Yemen has a 2000-year old Jewish history and had a thriving Jewish community. They were living as dhimmis, non-Muslim protected subjects. True, this meant they were second-class subjects, but they were nonetheless accepted and appreciated for their craftsmanship.
If you visit the silver market of Old Sana’a the salesmen will tell you that it is such a pity the Jews all left, for they made such beautiful things. Indeed, the old Jewish earrings are the best. It is also what the tourists want to hear. They don’t like to encounter anti-Semitism on their holidays. Which is why it is better keep the schoolbooks away from them.