Pardon me, But I’m Jewish

The racist discourse in America is alarming and often people don’t even notice when it takes place. When the lady at the town hall meeting asked John McCain if Barak Obama was an Arab he replied: “No, no he is a decent family man.” Where is the contradiction here? Does Arab mean he is not a decent family man? Well, pardon me but I am Jewish and I am over sensitive and easily offended by these things.

To the claim that Obama is an Arab, the appropriate response is: “So what.” To the question is Barak Obama a Moslem the reply ought to be: “I don’t know but who cares.” contrary to what many people say, the holocaust was not the worst thing that happened to Jewish people, and it is not the recurrence of the holocaust that we need to fear the most. The holocaust was the inevitable outcome of centuries of European Christian indoctrination that Jewish people are less than human. What took place in the holocaust was the natural outcome of centuries where Christians taught hate. It is the recurrence of that trend we need to prevent so that another holocaust will never take place.

America is poised for a tremendous opportunity this November. It is far greater than landing a man on the moon, or building this or that space gadget or discovering this or that microbe. It is to show America that to be American you don’t have to be called Jim or George or Bob; that you don’t have to look like those white old guys who have their portraits all over the place. No, you can be an African, or an Arab or an Asian and still be an American because the truth is that it has been this way for more than two centuries.

But this is a formidable task. Making the next eight years the best in America’s history will require strength and courage that are yet to be asked of Americans on Election Day. On Election Day most of us like to go stick to our old comforts and loyalties, to find the person who looks and speaks like us or in a way that makes us feel comfortable. We want “our guy” or the guy from “our team” to win. We are all human and that is how humans act. This is ok under normal circumstances

But this year the opportunity is so great that we must look beyond our usual loyalties and comforts. This year we need to look at what America can really be like in eight years and that is a hard thing to do. We are drawn into despair by news of an economic crisis, by fears of impending attacks by terrorists and by the possibility that our earth is on the brink of a major natural disaster. It is only natural then, that we all cling to what we know to be true that we cling to what we believe to be right and that we cover our eyes and our ears to anything that might rattle our comfort.

America has done things that no other country has done, and this includes acts of magnanimity as well as acts of great stupidity and cruelty. This is the nature of great nations – that they have the capacity to do great things and they have the power to make colossal mistakes. This election year presents this nation with an opportunity to show its greatness, to show its magnanimity and to show its true strength.

No one needs proof of America’s military or economic might. Just take one look at the talented men and women who make up the armed services. People who like me live in Coronado see these men and women daily. I have the privilege of working with many families who have loved ones in the navy: The are the best and the brightest and they are the most dedicated people and parents one can hope to meet. We also know that America has brilliant minds in the fields of economy and science and quite possibly every other field known to man.

Every powerful nation has good leaders and bad leaders. Every powerful nation in the history of the world has shown greatness and has stooped down to pettiness; every powerful nation has had its time of glory and its times of shame. The last eight years have brought this country to an unprecedented low. It is up to us this year to determine what the next eight years be like for America.

No one knows how long it will take to build the destruction that America caused to Iraq, or how long it would take for the Iraqis to forgive America for its intervention. From my knowledge of the people of the Middle East I would venture to say that for the most part they are magnanimous and forgiving. Iraqis will undoubtedly rebuild their country, but the sooner America leaves the better things will be for Iraq and for the Middle East as a whole.

The questions that Americans need to ask is how do we make sure we are not drugged and mislead into another war as we with Iraq. If the surge did or did not work is immaterial because there would have not been a need for a surge had America not destroyed the order that was there to begin with. And the issue is not what the generals recommend that the government should or should not do, it is for the government to tell the generals what they should be doing and when.

There are many issues the next President will need to tackle, more so than most Presidents and we would do well to make sure that the next President is the guy with the audacity to hope. It is time for America to look beyond the color to look beyond the fear; to trust that its ok to have a first family that does not look like any first family before it.

So I say once again, pardon me, but I am Jewish. I see no contradiction between being an Arab and being a decent family man. This is one issue about which America needs to be very clear.

Miko Peled calls for tearing down the Wall, ending apartheid, and establishing a democratic secular state in Palestine/Israel. Read other articles by Miko, or visit Miko's website.

23 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. bozhidar bob balkas said on October 18th, 2008 at 9:41am #

    miko. yes, i too, discern when people insult others by a prestidigitation.
    and, unfortunately, i too, get hurt by such abuse of language.
    however, miko, u too, have used the same ruse; tho u may have not noticed it.
    u implied, tacitly tho, that u being jewish or ur jewishness, endows u w. diff’t senses.
    in add’n, it appears there r no jews but people w. judaic faith;
    or socalled jews w. judaic faith who may have abandoned their parental faith.
    that there weren’t any jews in europe, hunt for ‘jews’ in germany by the nazis, prove it.
    oft a ‘jew’ cld not be recognized; thus deep searches for origins of so many of the ashkenazic volk.
    and they did not have semitic language but a germanic jargon.
    i see many people of the judaic faith; some look more german or pole than many a pole or german.
    the time has come for ‘jews’ to drop the strategem and call selves an euro-asian volk of many nationalities.
    the better name wld be to call these people ” ashkenazim? thnx

  2. Max Shields said on October 18th, 2008 at 10:30am #

    To follow Miko’s logic – to his reason to vote for Obama, I say “so what”.

    Because Obama’s name is what it is, and his skin is what it is, is absolutely no reason to see this as an opportunity to make him or anyone else president.

    This seems to me a foolish notion that we should elect someone to make history; or to think that by so doing the issues on race will be dampened or improved; or whatever.

    How about Obama’s positions on a dozen core issues that are nearly identical to his opponent. We have had city mayor’s who were elected based on their race, a few were outstanding, many (like most mayor’s) were major disappointments and some ended up in the slammer.

    I do however agree that using the term Arab or Muslim to attempt to slander Obama is really a slander of those peoples and religion. That is shameful and when stated I would demand that OBAMA and his SUPPORTERS should call them on it, not to protect Obama, to the bigotry and hatred implied by those who would use such vile political ploys.

    But you know what Miko? They DON’T. It’s a dirtly little secret that Obama can keep his mouth shut when it comes to being a leader. It’s all about playing the game and winning at it. It has nothing to do with your highminded sensibility.

  3. HR said on October 18th, 2008 at 11:50am #

    I’ve heard people tell me what a wonderful message it would send to the people of the Middle East if Obama is elected. I find such talk presumptuous and condescending. Folks promoting this false message apparently operate under the assumption that people in the Middle East only care what Obama looks like and his lineage. They seem to assert that the people of the world are not listening to what Obama actually says, are not hearing his real message of maintaining the status-quo in which wealth controls all, with a large military to back it up (maybe because that is how so many of us USans “analyze” candidates).

    Think what a much better message would be sent to the world if we elected a black woman, Cynthia McKinney, or a man from Lebanese background, Ralph Nader. These two are people who actually mean what they say.

  4. Michael Kenny said on October 18th, 2008 at 2:11pm #

    “No one needs proof of America’s military or economic might.”

    With the US economy crashing down and the military being cut to pieces in two unwinnable wars, I just wonder what planet Mr Peled has being living on! The odd thing, of course, is that US military and economic power is the sole obstacle to the single Palestinian state he dreams of, so I also wonder why he seems to want to prop up that power and seems to fear its collpase.

  5. Max Shields said on October 18th, 2008 at 2:34pm #

    Michael Kenny, have you noticed the unusual flood of Obama propagandist on DV lately?

  6. Hue Longer said on October 18th, 2008 at 8:12pm #

    This is an odd piece for DV…Who is this being directed to? Certainly not Republicans or progressives. Maybe racist Democrats? Even that seems strange. Also, holocausts aren’t occurring now? Does one have to reach the 6 million white people requirement to be noticed?

  7. Ali Mallah said on October 18th, 2008 at 9:00pm #

    First, As a Canadian of Arab origin, I salute Miko not only for this article, but also for his bravery and the GUTS to speak up ( If you check his blog, you can’t escape his strong stand for peace , Justice and against occupation and oppression).
    My redaing of this article by Miko, is about two important things :
    1) Standing up to islamophobia
    2) Speaking up against Racism and challenging the ” status quo” and the Norm of North America politics.
    Poeple could argue for and against Obama ( I personally don’t think that there is much difference bteween GOP and Dems., both are servants of Captialist and Imperialism and for the last few decades, they have been volunteerliy taken hostages to and manupilated by big Corp.), However, his campaign and who he is, is certainly to shape a new direction in USA politics. Too bad, Obama, did not have enough courage to go the extra mile and prefered to play safe.
    Finally, I commend DV for re-publishing this article and openning the opportunity for this debate.

  8. AJ Nasreddin said on October 19th, 2008 at 4:12am #

    This is a good article. Personally, when I listen to Obama, I get a sense of an educated, thoughtful man. McCain’s strategy, especially with Palin, seems to be “I’m just one of you.” I think this is the whole point – when things get difficult, people just naturally gravitate toward the familiar. I don’t hear anything from McCain that makes me believe he’d be any better than Bush. Obama may not be perfect, but I think he’s the better choice.

    HR, I think what would impress the people of the Middle East is someone, like Obama, who has firsthand knowledge of Muslims and does not have prejudicial attitudes or just plain ignorance of them. Americans consider themselves pretty clever, but I heard a lot of predictions from Arabs that came true because the Bush administration don’t understand Arabs or Muslims. Because of this ignorance, it has also become clear that Americans have been involved in terrorist activities in Iraq.

    What would also impress the Middle East is if Obama lives up to his word in Berlin of opening a dialogue with the world rather than dropping bombs. Despite what some people say, people in the Middle East do prefer dialogue over bombs. Most frightening is when McCain says he will not have dialogue because it is “too dangerous.” Somebody who feels dropping bombs is safer than chatting has got to be as crazy as Dick.

  9. rosemarie jackowski said on October 19th, 2008 at 5:39am #

    It is interesting to note that there has been almost nothing heard in the media or from the Obama campaign about McCain’s insulting, prejudicial remark about Arabs.
    A little bit of history repeating itself. In the 40s we were taught to hate ‘Japs’, Germans, Native Americans, etc. Then it was the Vietnamese. Now its Arabs. Who will be next?

  10. bozhidar bob balkas said on October 19th, 2008 at 5:53am #

    is obama a better choice for pals, iraqis, lebanese, pakistanis, afghanis.
    suppose he is? but perhaps only until he get’s elected?
    but why r so many people personalizing events of enormous comlexity and crimes against humanities, etc?
    this mythology of personal cult or of a belief that one person can change such complexity for better or much better, just keeps going.
    but is still only wishful thinking.
    uncle, the funni uncle needs changing- much changing. thnx

  11. Ismail Zayid said on October 19th, 2008 at 7:53am #

    Congratulations to Miko Peled for his courage and appreciation and thanks for the principled stand that Dissident Voice takes in publishing articles in support for human rights and international law.

    As to Obama,we should leave it to the American electorate to decide.

  12. Max Shields said on October 19th, 2008 at 8:05am #

    “It is interesting to note that there has been almost nothing heard in the media or from the Obama campaign about McCain’s insulting, prejudicial remark about Arabs.”

    Precisely my point, Rosemarie. When these insults and bigoted remarks are made the only thing you hear from Obama and his campaign is the HE IS NOT MUSLIM. I expect from a leader, some backbone. He should be condemning such bigoted remarks.

    For Obama it’s all about “not losing” the election. What you do to get to the White House is pretty much the President you’ll be.

    Obama’s instincts are always self-protection. It is always about joining, not differentiating.

    As I’ve said, independent progressives have no candidate in either of these two candidates – not even close. They are essentially the same on the critical issues. And no Obama supporter can demonstrate otherwise.

    But for them, that’s not the issue – it’s about getting elected and hoping that this guy will be something that his history – aside for Republican slanders – has NO indication he will ever be. His instincts are follow, not lead.


  13. Max Shields said on October 19th, 2008 at 8:22am #

    AJ Nasreddin

    Your supposition that Obama has a familiarity with Muslims seems a bit fetched. He has run away from any associations he has had with anyone who might injure his campaign – including Muslims.

    What would ever make you think that this person who defines himself in terms of “fitting in” in spite of his color (and name) would ever do anything more than he has said he would do. His condemnation Palestinians as “terrorists” and his “will protect and defend Israel” comments don’t seem to have sunk in with some who see these things in simplistic – Dem/Repub terms. Yes, one will be president; but that is no reason to deny the facts.

    By the way, I can think of a lot of “smart” leaders who have been some of the worst leaders and in some cases tyrannts.

  14. Max Shields said on October 19th, 2008 at 10:09am #

    bozhidar bob balkas

    Perhaps it is the complexity that you mention, that I feel compelled to post once again.

    The policies of the US are little guided by a single leader. The powers that exist in this country which have caused bombs to be dropped hither and yon, are not about to be dismantled (that would take a complete upheaval of the system which the candidates are ensconsed in). I think those powers, mostly corporate, are stronger now than almost ever before. Can that power implode? Possibly.

    The president is the Commander In Chief during a time of “war” or he has the bully pulpit. The president can chose to set a tone, but the tone, so far with these candidates is not different than what has transpired over the last 30 -40 years (and longer).

    The exceptionalism and deep tie to the power which drives (and has driven) US foreign (and thereby domestic) policies is off-bounds.

    The parameters that presidents work within are very limiting in that regard.

    But again, what Obama has said has mostly been vague and where he as been emphatic it has not been favorable for Middle Eastern peace (Afghanistan is in the ME) and certainly not for Palestinians. Let’s be clear.

    Is this because he must toe the line until elected? Or is it because he has learned to adapt, to play within the system. He will not be a repeat of George W. Bush in style. But then who truly runs America?

    I do in the end come back t0 this being much bigger than a POTUS. It is a crap shoot only if you think the POTUS has real control over events. In retrospect, was GWB really that powerful? Did Cheney and the neocons really call the shots; or were they simply the result of a system locked and loaded regardless of the particular establishment players?

  15. HR said on October 19th, 2008 at 11:13am #

    Actually, the President is commander-in-chief only of the military, even in time of war. For the rest of us, he is the chief executive, period (Article 2, Section 2, Clause 1, U.S. Contstitution).

  16. Dave Silver said on October 19th, 2008 at 11:26am #

    Exposing the racist McCain response “no heis a decent man” should not
    translate to voting for a Demcrat whose Party has been and is part of the problem. As Brecht said remember that the least fascist is still a fascist. Perhaps substitute the word reactionary and you have it.
    Only an independent national political movement/Party with a consciousness of the common enemy-Transnationals and Banks-sometimes calle the ruling class is the beginning of an effective Resistance to imperialism. Use the Cynthia McKinney Green Party candidacy to help buil such a movement.
    Dave Silver

  17. bozhidar bob balkas said on October 19th, 2008 at 2:56pm #

    u said it just like i wld. thnx

  18. Jody said on October 19th, 2008 at 10:08pm #

    My first time reading this website. It says at the top it’s a “radical” newsletter. Well, I don’t see anything the slightest bit radical about supporting Barack Obama. A true dissident voice certainly would not.

    Miko: What would be the proper response if there were a few women wearing Muslin head scarves at an Obama event, seated visibly right behind the stage, in full view of cameras? Shouldn’t the proper response be “so what?”

    This happened, perhaps Miko missed it, although it did make headlines (briefly). The Obama campaign had the Muslim women REMOVED so that they were not in the camera shots. They thought it would be bad publicity. Audacity for hope? Please. You don’t have a leg to stand on with this article.

  19. Max Shields said on October 20th, 2008 at 5:54am #


  20. Darryl said on October 20th, 2008 at 7:04am #

    Geez… People coming down a bit hard on Miko, no? How about addressing his main gripe? Roman Catholics in Germany felt purification of The Motherland was sanctified by “God” – and whoops! millions dead. Hard-line illegal settlers in the West Bank don’t seem too charitable either. Then think that the middle-east was the cradle of agriculture, metals technology and trade… right up until they became Muslim. And then it crumbled into peasantry. Now all those bible-thumpin’, rust belt red staters are doing all they can to make sure the white house stays “white”. Religion seems to be the cultivator of racism and definitely backwards bigotry.

  21. Martha said on October 20th, 2008 at 8:13am #

    Max Shields: Michael Kenny, have you noticed the unusual flood of Obama propagandist on DV lately?
    Yes, it is noticeable. On the issue the column starts with, good to know he watches pro-Obama Bill Moyers, spends a week thinking about the criticism of the Obama campaigns (tiny criticism, it’s Bill Moyers’ show after all) and finds a way to turn it into “Bad John McCain.”
    “Pardon me, But I’m NOT Stupid” should be the rebuttal. And, for the record, Naomi Klein was calling the Obama campaign’s reaction out months ago. But so very good of the latest Obama propagandist to act as if the problem is John McCain.
    Vote for Cynthia or Ralph if you want change.

  22. MrSynec said on October 20th, 2008 at 5:19pm #


    I agree with you 100%.

  23. Daniela said on November 16th, 2008 at 7:33pm #

    WELL… lets just say that “so what” is what every person should say to a question lioke THAT… prejudice is the worst thing that ha shappened to the world… people judge others, people talk before they think… and yuet everyone is prejudiced and everyone prejudices… I know its not an excuse.. but its the truth.. so dont avoid it… face it, and do somethig to stop it.