There is so much Jew-bashing in Egypt. I wouldn't mind if it was anti-Zionist. That's about politics and land disputes which can be debated. However, Jews are people; brothers and sisters in monotheism. To hate a Jew is to hate your own theological family.
I had to deal with Hilter-saluting, swastika-wearing teens yesterday. It was absurd. What made it even uglier was that some adults around me took it lightly.
As I was trying to make sense of how Egyptian kids in 2013 could be playing Nazis, I was shown the history book from their class. I didn't understand the pages. What were those big black rectangles? Was it some kind of funny twist of that all-white rectangle being a polar bear eating a marshmallow in a snowstorm?
"This blacked-out page is what the Egyptian government doesn't want them to learn about the Holocaust.
Here's another page.
There were words underneath those censoring black stickers. There were explanations of stereotyping, scape-goating, propaganda and systematic destruction. There were pictures of a concentration camp hidden too. When he ripped at the black, I could see a little of those striped pajamas on gaunt prisoners. Sadly, those educational explanations of why 6 million people were persecuted and exterminated are outlawed in Egypt. Hence, children who have little understanding.
This isn't the first time I've run across Egyptian anti-semitism. I know, it's an oxymoron. Arabs are Semites. For Egyptians to hate Semites means they hate themselves. In America, when I taught students of multiple backgrounds, the student with the least amount of cultural sensitivity was Egyptian.
You can be against Israel but not be against Jews.
You can hate the policies but not the people. Don't hate Jews.
My name is Yosra. I'm Muslim.
I live I Egypt and I love Jews!
Maurice Sendak...my illustrator through many stories and ages
Gene Wilder...my leading man of my childhood in "Willy Wonka," "Young Frankenstein," and "Silver Streak"
Art Garfukle...my sounds of silence in the seventies
Henry Winkler...my cool inspiration in "Happy Days"
Marily Monroe...my one-time idol
Arthur Miller...my dramatist who wrote one of my best parts
Billy Wilder...my favorite (or one of my favorite) directors
Billy Joel...my rock and roll of the eighties
Pat Benatar...my siren of the eighties
Frank Oz...my teacher of positive thinking via Miss Piggy's voice
Anne Frank...my darkest fear and highest hope
Rosana Arquette...my touchstone as Roberta in "Desperately Seeking Susan"
Mr. Libkin...my drama coach
Zvi Gilbert...my summertime crush of 1983
Golda...the "Fiddler on the Roof" character I played in high school
Jeff Goldblum...my leading man of my teens
Stephen Fry...my Brit-com leading man
Senator Paul Wellstone...my political champion
Sarah Jessica Parker...my escape
Gwyneth Paltrow...my role model for elegance and grace
Andy Carvin...my news feed on Twitter
Jon Stewart...my sensible satirist
Leopold Weiss...my translator of The Holy Quran, though he changed his name to Mohammed Asad
There are so many Jews who have been good and kind to me over the years. Some I knew were Jewish and some I didn't.
Back in 2008, when I was so stressed as I looked for worked, I called a private school. It was looking for a teacher. I talked with the principal. We talked a while. I found out it was a Jewish school. I then found out he was the Rabbi. I had no idea. He told me that Jews can't pray in a Christian church but are allowed to pray in a masjid/mosque. His kindness and understanding at a difficult time kept me going. I can't remember his name. God bless him!
May God reward us for the kindness we show each other in our thoughts, words and actions.
Read this story about Dylan, Sasha and Ahmed and their interfaith friendship on the soccer field.
Read this story about 102-year-old Ruth Knelman, a wonderful Jewish lady reaching out to cooks of all faiths.
Find a way to be loving and accepting of other faiths. Find a way to be the person who stops prejudice and ignorance. You and I can be better people than the past. Inshahallah.