Lions and Syria and Falafel, Oye Vey!

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Falafel and Lions and Syria, oh my!
By Ray Hanania — JERUSALEM POST — A day never passes when an Arab doesn’t complain about Israel. Of course, a day never passes when an Israeli doesn’t complain about the Arabs, either.

The complaints vary widely and cover everything from stealing food to violence.

A common complaint is Israel “stole” the falafel. Maybe. Israel has stolen Palestinian lands belong to Palestinians. But, can you really steal food?

I read recently where an Israeli official countered: did Israel also steal Italian food? Another Palestinian activist said he “snickers” whenever he sees a sign boasting of “Israeli falafel.”

In fairness, though, Israelis don’t go around bragging “Try our Israeli spaghetti” the way Israelis promote “Israeli falafel.”

But to be even more fair – is that allowed in the Arab-Israeli conflict? — many Israeli Jews are from Arab countries (Sephardic) and have been making falafel and other food delicacies for centuries, too.

If this were just about the battle of who controls food, it might be funny. But that’s not the case. What’s not so funny, though, is how when pushed against the wall, Arab dictators quickly start to sound like the Israelis they often frequently denounce.

For example, I recall the first time I ever heard the phrase “iron fist,” it was used by then General Yitzhak Rabin. He vowed to break the arms of Palestinian protestors during the First Intifadah.

Last week, I heard Syria’s strongman Bashar al-Assad, whose last name means “Lion” in Arabic, vow to crush the pro-Democracy protesters with an “iron fist.”

I didn’t hear a lot of Arabs complaining about that. In fact many Arabs are cheering Assad, the feeble-voiced eye doctor, with their usual double-vision and hypocrisy.

Assad’s army is also firing “rubber bullets” at protesters. I thought rubber bullets were an Israeli invention?

Next thing you know, Assad will probably be declaring in typical Arab world bluster that if the protesters don’t shut-up and accept their restrictive unfree lives, that he will “drive them into the sea.”

Or, he might start building a 28 foot tall concrete wall around the most disruptive Arab areas where protesters have been most active. Assad will probably also call the “Wall” a “Fence,” too, to soften the political impact.

If there are any Jews left in Syria, Assad could have them build the “Oppression Wall” the way Israel has Arabs building their Wall — err, fence, err barrier, err, whatever!

Maybe the United Nations might find a few moments to organize a UN Inquiry into the Syrian Uprising. They could have some renowned Arab jurist as its lead author outline the war crimes that Assad is engaging in as he orders his tanks and planes to fire missiles on civilians.

That is a war crime, isn’t it? (There’s even a debate on that in the Arab-Israeli conflict. When is killing a civilian a war crime?)

Of course, there is a long list of things the UN could do but doesn’t. It could order similar inquiries into the brutal oppression against protesters in Egypt, Bahrain, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Yemen and well, let’s name everyone of the 22 Arab countries.

If they find an Arab to lead the inquiries, maybe they can convince former jurist Richard Goldstone to do it. He could follow up on the Gaza War Report he did in 2009. We could have The Goldstone Report Part II: Syria. And The Goldstone Report Part III: Egypt. And the Goldstone Report Part VI: Saudi Arabia.

It could become an encyclopedia of alleged oppression, easily a 22 volume set.

Oye vey! There is so many crimes being committed against civilians in the Arab World, it would all become a blur. Or maybe, the “blur of oppression” might be given a formal name. We can just call it the “Arab League.”

This “fog of conflict” in the Arab World is actually very easy to see.

In fact, although the Arab World claims ownership of falafel, there is one dish that it serves often that it didn’t event but it could just as easily claim ownership.

That dish is called Hypocrisy.

Arabs are always pointing to Israel and claiming they are “hypocrites.” They might be. But, I don’t hear the Arabs screaming that Israel “stole” the “hypocrisy” from the Arab World the way they scream that Israel “stole” their falafel, or the way they close their eyes to brutality in the Arab World but have 20-20 vision when it involves brutality by Israel.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying Israel is any kind of angel in this whole mess. I mean, when Israel announced last week that it would take in Syria protesters and refugees, that sounded a little shallow considering Israel refuses to take in Palestinian refugees from 1948 and 1967 and refuses to recognize Arabs as citizens who marry Israelis.

But I am saying that the very Arab critics pointing fingers at Israel are doing the exact same thing that they claim Israel has done.

Syria’s Assad says the heart of the issue is that Syria has been the champion of Arab Nationalism and the Palestinian cause. Is the Assad regime really the “champion” of the Palestinian cause when it oppresses its own people? How can they be?

(Ray Hanania is an award winning columnist, radio talk show host.

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Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania is an award winning political and humor columnist who analyzes American and Middle East politics, and life in general. He is an author of several books.

"I write about three topics, the Middle East, politics and life in general. I often take my life experiences and offer them in an entertaining way to readers, and I take on the toughest topics like the Israel-Palestine conflict and don't pull any punches about what I feel is fair. But, my priority is always about writing the good story."

Hanania covered Chicago Politics and Chicago City Hall from 1976 through 1992. Hanania began writing in 1975 when he published The Middle Eastern Voice newspaper in Chicago (1975-1977). He later published “The National Arab American Times” newspaper which was distributed through 12,500 Middle East food stores in 48 American States (2004-2007).

Hanania writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues for the Arab News in Saudi Arabia at, and at, and at He has also published weekly columns in the Jerusalem Post newspaper,, Newsday Newspaper in New York, the Orlando Sentinel Newspapers, and the Arlington Heights Daily Herald.

Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem.

Hanania is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, he was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media. In 2009, Hanania received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. He is the recipient of the MT Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award. He was honored for his writing skills with two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild. In 1990, Hanania was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times editors for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.

His writings have also been honored by two national Awards from ADC for his writing, and from the National Arab American Journalists Association.

The managing editor of Suburban Chicagoland Online News website, Hanania's columns also appear in the Southwest News Newspaper Group of 8 newspapers.

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Ray Hanania