Elle Magazine published an autobiographical article by Karmah Elmusa, a young Palestinian-American journalist — and all heck broke loose in the comment section. In the article, I’m Longing for Palestine while living the American Dream, Elmusa writes about her background and her identity as Palestinian-American growing up in Washington DC. The escalation of violence in Palestine is understandably tugging on her heart in times such as these. Under the circumstances, the sentiments she expressed seem very normal:
[D]isparate emotions dart around inside me like pinballs, striking chords and hitting nerves. There’s the sadness, of course–the sadness that I always feel when I think about Palestine—that is now pulled to the surface and sharper than usual. Sadness that so many of today’s young people are lost to a struggle that is decades old. Sadness that it feels like it may continue for decades more.
It’s consuming, she’s a good writer. You can feel her anxiety bracing for what’s to come, like Palestinians all over the world. Is the Third Intifada before us now? I don’t know but I’m scared too.
Elmusa writes about grappling with her identity; split between her American side (Dixie Chicks and McDonald’s) and her Palestinian side (her cousin was sentenced to 9 years – “the rest of his youth in a cell” – for protesting the murder/torching of Mohammed Abu Khdeir, 16). She’s frustrated “how irreconcilable my two halves often seem” and asks “Who does that make me, exactly?”
On top of that she’s a blond:
I can seamlessly blend into a culturally white world, never being subjected to that split-second suspicion and judgment that so many Arab-Americans deal with daily. My complexion has afforded me a very privileged life here.
I hope Elmusa’s two halves can eventually seamlessly blend with each other. I hope American society can be a place where that can happen. But in all honesty, the comment section perfectly demonstrates what Elmusa is up against, what Palestinian-Americans and Arab-Americans have to contend with probably on a daily basis. And Elmusa has beautiful energy, she’s hopeful with an optimistic nature. And I don’t know if it’s because her article was published in Elle and their readership is particularly pro-Israel, but the racism directed at her by so many of the commenters was outrageously vile. One man, Yacov Yardeny from New York City, wrote:
she will be the first one to stab American’s back when she get a chance…The writer is an Arab, as an Arab should not to be trusted they have proven througout history not to be trusted
Writing about the occupation and hoping if Palestinians can ever live like normal people, Elmusa wasn’t asking too much. She just wants Americans to look at Palestinians and know “that all they want are the same basic things Americans demand for themselves—like equal protection under the law. Like the ability to not only survive, but to really live.”
Another commenter wrote
most mmuslims in the middle east are blood gushing muderers ,thursty killers who wont kill from far ,just holding head with left hand and slowly slice it off with right hand with out even saying “ouch” after or some will walk near yah and plunge a knife in u with out knowing if anything happened
It goes on and on like this, just unbearable. Linda Levitan, a copy editor at Deaf Life magazine wrote Palestinians had “a psychopathic culture that would almost certainly execute her for being corrupted by ïnfidel values” and that if she went to Palestine “She wouldn’t survive there a week” because Palestinians’ greatest aspirations are to kill Jews and “Dissenters are quickly terminated.”
Ron Katz, a system architect at Cisco says he would “love to believe there are Arabs who can conduct a civilized conversation and not just talk with knives.” He should get out more!
So many of the accusations, expressions willing posted by people supporting Israel, one after another — so mean. And most don’t hide their identity, just showing their stripes and letting it all hang out. It’s as if they are unaware how abhorrent their bigoted voices are. It’s worrying but as Americans become more familiar with those angry bullying voices (becoming a trademark for pro-Israel activism), the more we become immune and understand your nature and who you really are.
Two people sent me this article, both alerted me to the comment section. One mentioned Elmusa’s background made an impression on her because it sounded “so similar” to her daughter’s. She was delighted to hear a Palestinian voice in a mainstream publication. Then she wrote:
you’ll see how completely unhinged the Zionists get when they encounter Palestinians where they least expect them. The vitriol is unbelievable, considering how moderate and calm her essay is.
Americans are not accustomed to hearing Palestinian voices in mainstream publications. Elmusa has spirit, talent and fun written all over her. Does that makes her a threat? You be the judge.
Answering Karmah Elmusa’s question, who does that make you, exactly? It makes you a beautiful Palestinian-American who enriches our country, Palestine, and our world.
Thanks to Elle for publishing this thoughtful article.