What Netanyahu got wrong about us ‘medieval’ Arabs

The Arabs are backward and Muslims want to destroy the world. And then there was that diagram. Comedian Amer Zahr breaks down Netanyahu’s UN speech.

By Amer Zahr

This week, Benjamin Netanyahu delivered a speech in front of the General Assembly of the United Nations. As a Palestinian, I tuned in. It’s my duty. Plus, I say the guy’s name at least 3-4 times a day (I won’t tell you how), so the least I could do was to listen to his speech.

He started innocently enough, referring to how Israel is the ancestral homeland of the Jewish people, their deep history, and their innovation. No problem. He called Jerusalem Israel’s “eternal capital.” Whatever. He said the Jewish people will “never be uprooted again.” Fine. “We restored our independence,” he said. Well, Israel wanting to “restore” its independence from 3,000 years ago is kind of like Barack Obama saying he’d like to “restore” the “hope” from four years ago. Some things happened along the way that complicated the matter a little.

But I always knew that Benjamin Netanyahu was a proud Israeli who used history to make political points.  Nothing surprising here.

Then Bibi began to describe the current war between the “modern and the medieval.” He told us that modernity “seeks a bright future in which the rights of all are protected,” while medievalism seeks to “suppress knowledge” and “glorify death.”  He spoke of Israeli inventions and praised Israeli innovation. I will note, as my dad constantly reminded me, that the medieval Islamic world did invent algebra, chemistry, universities, chess, shampoo, surgery, numbers, and coffee. Yes, Starbucks is entirely our fault. Oh, and we invented flying carpets, so take that!

Of course, according to him, the war between modernity and medievalism is most “stark” in the Middle East, and Israel is, of course, on the side of modernity. Translation: Jews, good… Arabs, Muslims, bad.

I always knew Bibi didn’t like Arabs and Muslims. It’s actually a job requirement for Israeli prime minister. So nothing shocking here.

Netanyahu then delved into the Palestinian-Israeli peace process. In order to solve the conflict, he told us all parties should avoid “libelous speeches” and “unilateral declarations.” But he called us a “demographic threat.” That’s pretty defamatory, mister. Israel “unilaterally” pulled out of Gaza and blockaded it. It “unilaterally” built more settlements and “unilaterally” united Jerusalem. It even “unilaterally” declared hummus the Israeli national snack! I don’t remember any negotiations about that.

He also said, “We have to sit together, negotiate together, and reach a mutual compromise, in which a demilitarized Palestinian state recognizes the one and only Jewish State.”  It kind of sounds like he’s already decided the outcome of the “mutual compromise.” And why did he say it’s the “one and only” Jewish state? Is New York City trying to make a claim?

But I always knew Bibi held monumental double standards when it came to Palestinians and Israelis, so none of that stuff startled me.

But he couldn’t stop talking about those backward Muslims. He told us that “the medieval forces of radical Islam” want to “end the modern world,” namely Israel, Europe, and America. Perhaps he doesn’t know that those Arabs and Muslims hold a party whenever they get a visa to the United States. And if they get a green card, they set off fireworks. Maybe he thinks they’re just having one last big strategy session before they set sail, getting one last lesson on explosives.

He compared radical Islam to the Nazis. Now that’s just unfair. Muslims don’t have any kind of universal hand gestures, unless you count that circular hand motion they make when they’re fighting about who should go through the door first.

Then he started talking about nuclear weapons and Iran. “To understand what the world would be like with a nuclear-armed Iran, just imagine the world with a nuclear-armed Al Qaeda.” Really? Al Qaeda?  We’re supposed to believe the group that conducts military exercises on a playground could build a nuclear weapon? They can’t even run a good boot camp.

And let’s be real. Al Qaeda is not doing that well. Every week CNN tells me, “Today, a military strike killed Al Qaeda’s number two man.” There’s really no job security in that organization.

He spoke of how close Iran is to producing a nuclear bomb, and how the world must act now to stop them. Then he claimed to know how close Iran is to achieving its goal of world destruction.

Then Bibi said, “I brought a diagram.” Now this is new. Israelis are not known for diagrams.  They usually hate maps and annoying things like borders. This was totally new for me. I started to get interested.

Now I always thought Netanyahu was a little imbalanced, but I didn’t think he was completely insane until he held up a drawing of circle with a squiggly black line coming out of it and said, “This is a bomb, this is a fuse.” I felt like I was watching an episode of “The Road Runner.” But I have to call Bibi out on this lie as well. I’m an Arab, and I can tell you with some authority, that is not what a bomb looks like.

Now, Bibi knows exactly what a bomb looks like. And he knows what a nuclear bomb looks like too. It is estimated that Israel could have up to 400 nuclear bombs in its arsenal. But the “only democracy in the Middle East” has a policy of “opacity” when it comes to its nuclear program. In other words, no one gets to know anything about Israel’s nuclear program, but everyone has to know everything about Iran’s.

Israel has refused to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.  And in case anyone was wondering, every state in the “modern” world has signed it. In fact, almost every “medieval” Islamic nation has signed it too.

I have an important piece of paper I’d like to show the prime minster of Israel. And there’s something I need to tell him about it:

“This is a treaty, this is where you sign it.”

The author is a Palestinian-American residing in Dearborn, Michigan.  He is a comedian and graduate of the University of Michigan Law School.

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