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In video tours of Palestine, Nas Daily plays native informant

Israel/Palestine
on 41 Comments

In the past few weeks, my Facebook feed has been inundated with short videos by a cheerful young man calling himself Nas Daily.  Traveling to exotic locales and highlighting absurd or uncommon phenomena in one-minute increments, Nas Daily has rapidly accumulated an audience of millions.  His catchphrase, “That’s one minute, see you tomorrow!,” is calibrated for a busy world increasingly addicted to visual media.

Nas (“people” in Arabic) is short for Nuseir Yassin, a Muslim Palestinian citizen of Israel.  A Harvard graduate, the 25-year-old is a native of Arraba, an Arab village in the Galilee.  He quit the high-tech economy in New York City when a feeling of wanderlust overcame him and decided to travel the world and record his encounters.  Yassin has been favorably profiled in a variety of Israeli media.

It’s easy to see why Yassin has been successful.  He is jaunty and vivacious.  His videos are colorful and fast-paced, offering hopeful messages that resonate in a seemingly broken world.  He seeks the exotic and unusual, which plays well with First World audiences.

Some of his videos have a political edge, but he stops short of structural critique.  He rarely explores disparities of power and works hard to accommodate a range of sensitivities.  In Nas’s world, equality can be salvaged through dialogue and understanding.

While plenty of his dispatches are enjoyable, a few have been embarrassingly bad.  His forays onto the African continent reproduce the bubbly Orientalism found in high-end travel magazines.  A recent video about Swaziland—“Africa’s secret country!”—featured half-naked dancers (his phrasing) and attentive natives.  It looked like a research trip for a 1940s Disney feature.

If you’re tempted to rejoin by noting that Yassin can only do so much in sixty seconds, I will agree.  I will also point out that it’s a bad idea to discuss a continent subject to centuries of exploitation in one-minute increments.

Palestine, however, is Yassin’s weakest geography.  In his quest to sound objective, he often presents as a native informant.  He highlights the difficult circumstances facing Palestinians, but conspicuously avoids implicating the Israeli state in racism or ethnic cleansing.  He never condemns Zionism.  Settler colonization is absent from his vocabulary.  In his telling of Palestine, the Nakba never happened.

The feel-good shtick that works in alien environs doesn’t translate to his ancestral land.

Lest I be accused of reducing Palestine to crude politics, I am not responding to a set of cultural tidbits.  Yassin addresses the so-called Israel-Palestine conflict in numerous videos.  I am aware that, as a second-class citizen of Israel, strong criticism of the state might cause him hardship.

This mitigating factor still doesn’t absolve Yassin of his half-baked politics.  In an otherwise decent video about Palestinians inside Israel, he implies that “the laws [in Israel] don’t explicitly discriminate.”  Yet numerous writers and civic organizations have documented Israel’s juridical discrimination against non-Jewish minorities.  Yassin then places equal responsibility for the poor condition of Palestinian-Israelis on “the government and my people themselves!!” before reassuring viewers that “this isn’t a blame video.”

In another video, he attempts to create unity through a lighthearted competition between Israeli and Palestinian hummus.  The fact that there’s no such thing as “Israeli” hummus, thus rendering the exercise pointless, isn’t enough to disrupt Yassin’s quest to liberate Palestinians by reifying Zionism’s most toxic fantasies.  Even the earnest young Zionists one encounters at campus diversity events understand that peace will require more than a shared love of pureed legumes.

Introducing the segment, Yassin declares, “Even this video, I’m sure, will piss off people on both sides.  I have 0 interest in engaging in those discussions, but certainly feel free to share with the world your one-sided opinions!”

In other videos, he agitates against binationalism, suggests transforming parts of Jordan into Palestine, eulogizes Israel’s technological prowess, declares that BDS should be illegal, and treats the colonization of Jerusalem as a bizarre misunderstanding.

One episode begins with the disclaimer, “This video will certainly get me in trouble, but it’s about time I made it,” classic Nas-speak for “I’m getting ready to say something stupid.”  The subsequent sixty seconds provide a synopsis of Israel’s founding without using the terms “refugee,” “massacre,” “displacement,” “theft,” “occupation,” or “imperialism” before imploring fellow Palestinians to “move on!,” an option no doubt appealing to the two million people under siege 112 miles south of Yassin in Gaza.

Before another of his educational videos, he invokes an age-old Zionist mantra, complaining, “I was fed up with the amount of hate coming out from both sides” and then bemoans the “pushback” he has received from “both sides.”

This is a recurrent theme for Yassin.  Other people grouse and bellyache.  In contrast, he is a forward thinker prepared to confront all that his compatriots prefer to avoid.  Constantly appealing to his own courage and originality, he doesn’t seem to understand, or care, that he merely repeats the same bromides proffered by Western diplomats, politicians, intellectuals, pundits, and broadcasters for almost five decades.

He’s always on about positivity, something he considers a uniquely enlightened perspective.  His entire discourse is little more than self-help for the apolitical. Some might read it as a field manual for collaboration.

Yassin regularly prefaces his videos with qualifications meant to illustrate that he is exceptionally reasonable.  People are always going to be mad about what he’s getting ready to say, but he must say it, anyway.  Or, as he puts it, “As is with all politics, unfortunately, people get angry.  Especially with such sensitive topics. But this is exactly why Nas Daily started in the first place:  for me to express my opinion around the world.  So why stop now?”  Although Yassin only speaks in sixty-second intervals, he could save everybody time by directing their attention to J Street’s mission statement.

 The easiest way for a Palestinian to earn a mass audience is by appeasing liberal Zionist anxieties.  Yassin has proved an adept study; Nas Daily excels at the unoriginal.  For his own people, however, he manages to offer nothing but routine episodes of passive aggression.

Steven Salaita
About Steven Salaita

Steven Salaita's most recent book is Inter/Nationalism: Decolonizing Native America and Palestine.

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41 Responses

  1. Liz
    Liz
    December 19, 2017, 11:16 am

    Each time I read something by Steven Salaita, I am blown away by the brilliance of his writing. Thanks for another great piece!

  2. JLewisDickerson
    JLewisDickerson
    December 19, 2017, 9:09 pm

    RE: “He’s always on about positivity, something he considers a uniquely enlightened perspective.” ~ Salaita

    MY COMMENT: Recently I read that as a fairly young adult Donald Trump moved his church membership to the church where the “power of positive thinking ” pastor Norman Vincent Peal preached his sermons.

    Long, long ago, I tried to read his book myself but after struggling through 20 pages or so, I felt like I had the jist of his self improvement scheme, and I knew it wasn’t for me.

    Stuart Smalley had a powder blue cardigan, was brimming with patent insecurities and suffered from a severe lack of confidence that made him virtually always susceptible to having a crisis. I found that far more intriguing.

    “Speaking as a Christian, I find the Apostle Paul appealing and the Apostle Peale appalling.” ~ Adlai Stevenson

    P.S. Be Forever Grateful For Trump’s
    “Great Oligarch Tax Heist of 2017”.
    We are so not worthy of Donald Trump!

  3. Mayhem
    Mayhem
    December 19, 2017, 9:58 pm

    According to the opiniated Salaita there’s no such thing as “Israeli” hummus and he doesn’t like the tenor of Nas Daily. Clearly his contempt stems from his own intransigent views and lack of tolerance for a Palestinian voice that doesn’t echo bloody-minded Pallywag mantras day in and day out.

    • Maghlawatan
      Maghlawatan
      December 19, 2017, 10:46 pm

      IF a crowd of Burundians invaded Alabama and claimed biscuits and gravy as their own it would be regarded as bullshit and rather shabby .

      • jon s
        jon s
        December 22, 2017, 4:10 pm

        Stating that there’s no such thing as Israeli hummus is outrageous and insulting. Hummus which is made in Israel, sold in Israel and consumed in Israel is, by definition, Israeli hummus.
        I’ll tolerate a lot, but not insults to our hummus.

      • annie
        annie
        December 22, 2017, 6:26 pm

        Hummus which is made in Israel, sold in Israel and consumed in Israel is, by definition, Israeli hummus.

        “by definition” pizza made, sold and consumed in america is still italian food. just like mexican tacos made, sold and consumed in italy are not, by definition, italian tacos. the only way a taco would be considered italian is if you fundamentally changed the ingredients used to make the taco, filling or crust. i mean, maybe one would consider pineapple and ham pizza american pizza. hummus is an arabic dish. you can serve it wherever you want, but it won’t change the cultural origins of the food — which is arabic, not israeli.

        plus, it is not an “insult” to claim pizza made in america is italian food and not “american pizza”. it’s not an insult, it’s a fact. nor is it an “insult” to claim hummus made in israel is not israeli hummus. what’s an insult is cultural appropriation and not giving credit where credit is due.

        what’s the hebrew word for hummus jon?

      • Mooser
        Mooser
        December 22, 2017, 6:55 pm

        “I’ll tolerate a lot, but not insults to our hummus.”

        Talk to whoever it is that forces you to post here. Maybe they can do something about what you have to tolerate.

      • eljay
        eljay
        December 22, 2017, 9:36 pm

        || jon s: … Hummus which is made in Israel, sold in Israel and consumed in Israel is, by definition, Israeli hummus. … ||

        Children who were made in “Jewish State”, raised in “Jewish State” and who live and work in “Jewish State” should, by definition, be Jewish. It’s outrageous and insulting that there’s no such thing as bureaucratic Jewish nationality in “Jewish State”.

        || … I’ll tolerate a lot, but not insults to our hummus. ||

        This is definitely one of your more petty comments.

      • Maghlawatan
        Maghlawatan
        December 22, 2017, 10:51 pm

        The Hebrew word for hummus is khamas. The English translation is terrorist

      • Mayhem
        Mayhem
        December 23, 2017, 6:49 am

        @Robbins can’t tolerate cultural appropriation but there is nothing wrong with it; the much lauded idea of multiculturalism is to be celebrated. Three Cheers for Cultural Appropriation

      • jon s
        jon s
        December 23, 2017, 7:29 am

        Wow, lighten up, folks, my hummus comment was meant to be at least half-humorous. I’m not really outraged and insulted in the name of hummus.
        Everyone knows that hummus , falafel and shuwarma are Middle-Eastern in origin, pizza is Italian and so forth. Still, many people will say that pizza made in the US is American pizza, beer made in Israel is Israeli beer …and hummus,too.

      • echinococcus
        echinococcus
        December 23, 2017, 9:36 am

        John S says “lighten up”! It was humor, hear?

        Who the hell if not a total write-off of a person would decide that what he excretes is “humorous”? In the normal world, outside the Zoccoon, the reader decides if anything has any humor.

        Meatheaded, unfunny and revolting statements by criminals against humanity and accessories to mass crimes like our Illegal Squatter of Bîr As-sab, dropped from the Bronx or such, fall far short of it.

      • eljay
        eljay
        December 23, 2017, 9:56 am

        || jon s: Wow, lighten up, folks, my hummus comment was meant to be at least half-humorous. … ||

        I was hoping that you were just kidding but I honestly wasn’t sure that you were.

      • catalan
        catalan
        December 23, 2017, 11:10 am

        On cultural appropriation and pizza, actually a necessary ingredient in pizza is tomato, an American plant. Also, spaghetti was first mentioned in the Talmud in 5th century AD, therefore, credit is due to the Jews. Of hummus, I actually like the Kirkland brand best (American hummus). Just don’t go to the Balkans and argue about the origins of feta cheese, rakia, and yoghurt, they are ready to fight wars over that stuff.

      • Talkback
        Talkback
        December 23, 2017, 12:33 pm

        Catalan: “Also, spaghetti was first mentioned in the Talmud in 5th century AD, therefore, credit is due to the Jews.”

        What credit? That Jews were the first who found it important to WRITE about pasta? ROFL.

      • eljay
        eljay
        December 23, 2017, 12:58 pm

        || catalan: On cultural appropriation and pizza, actually a necessary ingredient in pizza is tomato … ||

        Incorrect. Tomato is not a “necessary ingredient in pizza”. Tasty pizza can be made just fine without tomato.

      • catalan
        catalan
        December 23, 2017, 1:21 pm

        “Incorrect. Tomato is not a “necessary ingredient in pizza”. Tasty pizza can be made just fine without tomato.”
        I have never heard of a pizza without tomato sauce. It would be a bread and cheese sandwich. You take the dough and you spread tomato sauce on it, that’s the minimum. I suppose one CAN make anything, but pizza traditionally has tomato sauce.
        Either way, the cultures that appropriate the most are most successful, according to Jared Diamond. Egypt , Greece, England, Japan, all have been masters of appropriating the best from other cultures. In fact, that’s the origin of the word “meme”, it is a cultural symbol which starts traveling, kind of like a successful gene. Natural selection then makes it survive. So if a culture creates something good, like a Beatles song, or Boolean logic, or belly dancing, it immediately spreads. There is no need to give credit – the credit goes to the creative part of humanity (never the ugly, yelling and angry masses) but the quiet workers. I eat hummus and pizza and don’t give credit every time. But I do give credit to Denmark for Legos, every time.

      • amigo
        amigo
        December 23, 2017, 1:31 pm

        “Wow, lighten up, folks, my hummus comment was meant to be at least half-humorous. “Jon S

        Your levity is out of place as is your presence in Occupied Palestine.

      • eljay
        eljay
        December 23, 2017, 1:59 pm

        || catalan: … I have never heard of a pizza without tomato sauce. … ||

        Crazy as this may seem, things exist which you have not heard of: ITALIAN PIZZA BIANCA/WHITE

        I’ll “pull a catalan” for a moment and point out that my mom – an Italian woman born and raised in Italy – used to make a very tasty potato pizza which, traditionally, never had a drop of sauce on it.

        || … It would be a bread and cheese sandwich. … ||

        A bread and cheese sandwich isn’t pizza – it’s a bread and cheese sandwich.

        || … You take the dough and you spread tomato sauce on it, that’s the minimum. … ||

        No, that’s the minimum for a tomato-sauce pizza.

        || … I suppose one CAN make anything, but pizza traditionally has tomato sauce. … ||

        It’s funny how you insist on doubling down even when you’re undeniably and provably wrong.

      • echinococcus
        echinococcus
        December 23, 2017, 2:27 pm

        Catalan

        “I’ve never heard of pizza without tomato sauce”

        Yeah, all the things YOU never heard about.
        It’s been made without any tomato at least since the first record of it in 997. Or the Latin record of ~200 AD.
        Classical pizza is still made without tomato and no dough artist would even think of questioning that, but of course those stupid Neapolitans forgot to ask Catalan. Otherwise they wouldn’t have started.

        You really should rebrand yourself: “Philistine” is a good name.

      • catalan
        catalan
        December 23, 2017, 3:47 pm

        “You really should rebrand yourself: “Philistine” is a good name.”
        Like I have said before, Catalan is my family name on my mother’s side. I hail from Spain, I guess. Either way, what are you saying? That people should give a thanks to Italy every time they eat a pizza? What kind of provincial nonsense is that? Pizza is a type of food, like Swiss cheese, or Feta. It’s not a trademark, like Gruyere or Champagne. I study from all – Zen Buddhism, Mathematics, History, I don’t care where it comes from. The stupid people are all the same too – always yelling about “country” and “we are the best”, and “let the government give me more”.

      • Talkback
        Talkback
        December 23, 2017, 5:06 pm

        Documented schizophrenia?

        Catalan: “Also, spaghetti was first mentioned in the Talmud in 5th century AD, therefore, credit is due to the Jews.”

        Catalan: “Either way, what are you saying? That people should give a thanks to Italy every time they eat a pizza? What kind of provincial nonsense is that? Pizza is a type of food, like Swiss cheese, or Feta. It’s not a trademark, like Gruyere or Champagne. I study from all – Zen Buddhism, Mathematics, History, I don’t care where it comes from.”

      • eljay
        eljay
        December 23, 2017, 9:53 pm

        || catalan: … I hail from Spain, I guess. … ||

        Except for when you don’t:

        … For me, I am a dual citizen; I am New Mexican … I am Bulgarian …

        … As to your comment that I am not a Bulgarian living in the U.S., it speaks of jealously. … Piotr here can tell I am Bulgarian. …

        … I am Bulgarian. …

      • echinococcus
        echinococcus
        December 23, 2017, 10:56 pm

        Either way, what are you saying?

        What I am saying is already written: You should re-baptize (oh, pardon!) yourself Philistine.

        That people should give a thanks to Italy every time they eat a pizza? What kind of provincial nonsense is that?

        That cultural appropriation, i.e. intense propaganda efforts by colonial or imperial invaders to present the culture of invaded people as their own, is the same as their presenting their victim people’s razed cities as never inhabited, its mass graves as parks without history… is one of the defining elements of genocide.

        Absence of gastronomic curiosity or solipsism to the point of not checking something (because, to caricature Bishop Berkeley, what one doesn’t know in one’s provincial closed mind surely doesn’t exist) –that is not a hanging offense. Participation in cultural operations in support of genocide most definitely is.

  4. Marnie
    Marnie
    December 20, 2017, 12:15 am

    Yassin – This is what happens to a perfectly normal healthy brain that has been transformed and mutated by a zionist education into another dipshit mouthpiece for the zionist state. This is sooooo bad.

  5. jon s
    jon s
    December 20, 2017, 4:13 pm

    Nas Daily does not see the situation in black-and -white and does not promote hatred and violence . He won’t become popular on Mondoweiss.

    • Talkback
      Talkback
      December 21, 2017, 6:47 pm

      jons: “Nas Daily does not see the situation in black-and -white and does not promote hatred and violence . He won’t become popular on Mondoweiss.”

      Yeah, he should promote the black and white propaganda and the hatred of violence that your Apartheid state needs to prolong its occupation.

      • Jerry J
        Jerry J
        May 16, 2018, 10:51 pm

        So Tallkback. you see the situation as black and white. Are you no different then Hamas?

    • Donald
      Donald
      December 22, 2017, 9:10 pm

      I haven’t watched him, but on the assumption that the post accurately describes him, he sounds exactly like the worst sort of liberal Zionist. In their own minds they want peace and just wish the Palestinians would get over their petty little complaints and be as nice and decent as, well, liberal Zionists like themselves. The fact that he is Palestinian just gives him the extra credibility needed to persuade liberal Zionists that they are perfect and don’t need to change.

  6. Hatim Kanaaneh
    Hatim Kanaaneh
    December 20, 2017, 9:50 pm

    For whatever it is worth, here is my personal advice to my fellow son of Arraba (Arrabeh) village which I used to preface this post on my Facebook account:
    “Two notes for Nuseir Yassin from my perspective as his compatriot of Arraba Village:
    1. Your technical and artistic achievement is noteworthy. You managed to attract the attention of Steven Salaita, in my opinion an heir to Edward Said in his intellectual astuteness and depth of analysis.
    2. Success has a price. It doesn’t grant you the right to speak to the world on our behalf. You better study every word that Salaita wrote here before your next video. He is right in nearly all of what he says in this article.”

    • annie
      annie
      December 20, 2017, 10:27 pm

      good for you hatim! and thanks for your great article today ;)

    • Maghlawatan
      Maghlawatan
      December 21, 2017, 3:14 am

      Sah kalamak.

      It must be a colonial thing. It is totally unacceptable.

  7. MHughes976
    MHughes976
    December 21, 2017, 12:14 pm

    Well, this was my new information for the day – I hadn’t heard of Nas and his videos before. They are very bright and forceful.
    I don’t mind his total avoidance of Marxist terminology but I have a problem with his ‘move on’ prescription when it seems that he could not follow it himself – or only in the over-literal sense of moving out to the United States. Not everyone can do that and how do those who are not paragons, able to transform their situation through world-class universities, manage to move on into some tolerable existence? If there is a way to move on in the sense he calls for that way must be opened up by, at very, very least, an Israeli statement of the terms of final settlement that Israel would consider fair, which even if it were completely unacceptable as it stood might make realistic
    negotiations thinkable.
    Nas is what we call on Mondoweiss a 2-stater or liberal Z. He is rather typical of them (we must accept that there are lots of them, some very important) in his breezy optimism but it seems to me that optimism
    becomes wilful blindness if it does not issue in any call for any specific action, even for the minimal step which I mention.
    It’s all very well to say that we mustn’t dwell on the past for ever but misleadingly bland statements about the past cause us to lose our sense of proportion. The crucial thing about 48 is not that many left or even, in a way, that many were killed, some very shamefully, but that such great numbers were excluded. That was a really terrible and the really consequential event.

    • Jerry J
      Jerry J
      May 16, 2018, 10:56 pm

      Most reasonable and non-radical people in the world are 2-staters.

      • eljay
        eljay
        May 17, 2018, 7:33 am

        || JJ: Most reasonable and non-radical people in the world are 2-staters. ||

        Thank you. I agree that two states…
        – based on Partition borders; and
        – defined, established and existing as secular and democratic states of and for their respective citizens, immigrants, expats and refugees, equally,
        …is a reasonable and non-radical solution to the I-P conflict.

  8. Jackdaw
    Jackdaw
    December 21, 2017, 4:14 pm

    Nas seems to be enjoying life a little too much too suit Steven.

    This Arab second class citizen got a first rate education in Israel. One that has enabled him to study abroad, land fast track jobs in New York City, and travel the world to his heart’s content.

    Nas knows how to succeed at life and how to enjoy himself.
    No wonder Mondoweiss hates him.

  9. Arby
    Arby
    December 25, 2017, 8:40 pm

    Nuseir Yassin is an idiot, at best. In my opinion.

    • echinococcus
      echinococcus
      December 26, 2017, 3:48 am

      Arby,

      No, that option is not available. He seems to be a successful businessman, a Harvard alumnus now running a profitable no-cost channel with Z propaganda (“This 25-year-old quit his $120,000-a-year job to be a Facebook star” as the Z-propaganda presentation goes.)

      As [email protected] says, here, “This Arab second class citizen got a first rate education in Israel. One that has enabled him to study abroad, land fast track jobs in New York City, and travel the world to his heart’s content”. Don’t you imagine for a second that the Zionist entity minders would choose an idiot when picking a show-window successful Ayrab to do propaganda for their occupation.

      So the charitable, “at best”, interpretation is impossible.

    • Jerry J
      Jerry J
      May 16, 2018, 10:49 pm

      Arby – you are a hatful person, in my opinion.

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