Monday, July 31, 2006

More on Local Arab Reactions to the Israel-Lebanon War

Three weeks ago I was added to the mailing list of a person who goes by the moniker "Palestine_Muslim" and sees it as his duty to circulate to Islamic-themed flash greeting cards, Arabic chain e-mails and jokes to the whole wide world. From the names of the other e-mail recipients on the list, I gather that "Palestine_Muslim" got my address from another forward sent to me and dozens of other people by one of my colleagues at the Bedouin school at which I used to teach. This particular colleague, who is a good friend, also happens to be from Hebron, although he has permanent resident status in Israel due to family ties here. While I generally do not devote much attention to e-mail forwards, I have to admit that the jokes, cartoons and photo-montages that I receive through my Hebron connection have afforded me some insight into popular sentiments among Arabs in Israel and in the West Bank. That’s why I was especially curious to read a short piece titled “Success Story” that I received on June 18, a day after the kidnapping of Israeli soldiers by Hizbullah. The story seemed quite apolitical at first, but turned out to be a clever allegory. Written in large purple Arabic type, the story starts with the lines:

كانت مجموعة من الضفادع تقفز مسافرةً بين الغابات

“A group of frogs was jumping [along] on a trip between the forests…” Well, this really got my attention, because – call me strange –ever since Kermit and those funny beer commercials with the frogs, I’ve had a soft spot for those slimy amphibians. So, I continued reading… In the story, our green protagonists stumble upon a deep well and two of them fall in. The rest of the frogs, on seeing the depth of the well, begin to scream that their comrades are in dire straits and that they are close to death. The two frogs, however, ignore their “friends” and muster all their strength to try to climb out of the wall. Instead of encouraging them, the group of frogs continues screaming, telling them to stop since they’re both as good as dead:

واستمر جمهور الضفادع بالصياح بهما أن تتوقفا عن المحاولة لأنهما ميتتان

Finally, one of the frogs gives up in exhaustion and plunges to his death:

أخيرا انصاعت إحدى الضفدعتين لما كان يقوله الجمهور, واعتراها اليأس؛ فسقطت إلى أسفل البئر ميتة

The other frog, however, continues jumping with all its strength while the onlookers tell it to surrender to death until it suddenly succeeds in leaping to freedom. When they come face to face with the frog, they ask it why it did not listen to them and give up. The frog explains that it was injured and turned partly deaf as a result. As a result, the frog assumed that its “nation” was encouraging it to carry out its dangerous mission all this time:

شرحت لهم الضفدعة أنها مصابة بصمم جزئي, لذلك كانت تظن وهي في الأعماق أن قومها يشجعونها على إنجاز المهمة الخطيرة طوال الوقت

The story ends with a line written in bold orange in which the author declares “[I’m] sure you got the message.”

I’ll leave it up to you to figure out the allegory. All I’d like to say at this stage is that a more accurate allegory would have had three frogs who, rather than falling into the well, lead their fellow frogs into the abyss.


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Halla said...

I don't get the analogy but then usually people have to explain a Nukhta to me.

John said...

Hi Halla,
The story of the frogs is supposed to be the story of the Arabs. The author is comparing the first (negative) reactions of the Arab states (e.g. Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan) to Hizballah's attack to the fearful reactions of the frogs. The author is saying that instead of discouraging Hizballah and losing hope, the Arabs should be encouraging Nasrallah.

Halla said...

Hi John, personally I do not think people should be passing around anything that encourages Nasralla or Hizbolla (btw, why do they both have to be spelled with allah at the end? I refuse to do it).

But, unfortunately, this is also a Muslim connection situation that not too many arabs would like to confirm. The mindset really needs to change.

Yaakova said...

Thanks for interpreting the allegory, because at first I totally didn't get it!

Halla said...

Carmia, How far away were you from the latest rockets that just hit on sunday evening? Is everyone alright?

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