My “Jewish Bubble”

Education, Politics, Religion

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You may have noticed that I haven’t posted anything in a while. Or maybe you haven’t. One of the reasons I haven’t posted anything is because I’ve been uninspired. It’s difficult to find relevant topics that are both interesting and informative without being offensive. Most of my information is based on news, fact, and experience.

Experience, in my opinion, is irrefutable. However, many people don’t necessarily believe much of what is said out of experience to be true. They may think, “Well, just because that applies to you, doesn’t mean it applies to everyone.” Or even, “Well, she’s lying.”

Facts are also, in my opinion, irrefutable. Unless the other party believes everything is a conspiracy against them. In that case, I think maybe a psych eval is in order. But what do I know?

News. News isn’t irrefutable. It can be biased, it can be skewed, and it can be downright misleading. Which is why, generally, I will use sources that are as close to neutral as I can find, or even sources from both sides of a particular issue that support my findings. Those can be the hardest to find, because typically no two sources of opposing views will tell the same story. So then one must read between the lines, find the middle ground, and come to a reasonable, if modest, conclusion.

By the time you cross check references, recall past conversations, and weed out all the crap to get to the base truth, your coffee is cold, your toast is stale, and you missed lunch.

In short: it’s a pain in the ass. These posts usually take me several hours to write up. I will spend the better part of a day working on some posts, and I’ll have a couple people look them over to check for inaccuracies, or possibly offensive material. I also veer off topic on occasion and have to make an effort to stay focused. Today I’m going to touch on a rather interesting topic (for me anyway):

Community Bubbles.

This is a topic from which I usually steer clear. I have extremely strong feelings about this, but I will try to keep this civil and contained. If you’re not sure what a community bubble is, think about groups of people who isolate themselves from “evil outside influences” so as not to corrupt the pure, innocent minds of their children. Sound familiar? Moving on.

I’d like to focus on a tidbit of a conversation I had a few days ago. I was discussing various topics with a person dear to me. Naturally, religion and politics came up. I shared a few of my thoughts on the ISIS situation, and about terrorism in general.

I should note the person I spoke with is a Muslim. She expressed the thought that the word “terrorist” is a derogatory term, and that it should not be spoken lightly. I kind of agree…sometimes. It just depends.. I mean, if you’re seriously accusing someone of terrorism, it would be wise to watch what you’re saying. If you have non-Muslim friends who jokingly call you a terrorist because you’re Muslim or Arab, getting butthurt and blowing up at them [pun intended] isn’t going to help your case. But you know, whatever. That’s neither here nor there. So back to my story.

Well, after I expressed some thoughts on ISIS, she mentioned my blog, and how she disagrees with my opinion that Muslims need to speak out against ISIS. She does not believe that ISIS is Islam. She believes they are a conspiracy created by Western governments to lead Muslims away from Islam. Essentially, to created people like me who are like, “Whoa! Dude, chill out! This shit’s gettin’ a little crazy!” So in her opinion, and many Muslims’ opinions, ISIS is not their problem, and it is not their duty to condemn them, because ISIS does not represent Muslims because they’re really a bunch of Western non-Muslims purposely setting out to make Muslims look bad.

Yeah. But I’m not going to get into my opinion of that, because people will end up not reading the rest of my post. Which I think will hopefully get to some interesting stuff. But to get closer to the point I’m trying to make, I’m going to say that I was flabbergasted and tried to make a few more points to argue my case. At which point she said something along the lines of:

Amira, you’re in your little Jewish bubble. You’re not getting the whole picture.

If I could insert a little voice clip of brakes screeching to a halt, I would. But for now, just imagine every wheel in my head coming to a dead stop. Even the crickets stopped chirping. And I’m like, How the hell do I even respond to that?!

Here’s how:

In the beginning, I was born in Abu Dhabi. A moderate Muslim city. I went to an all-girl school, where I was taught the core subjects and Islamic Studies. When we moved to America in 2000, I went to the Islamic School of Kansas City (ISKC), where I associated with my Muslim friends, wasn’t allowed to use social media (this is a household thing, not a community thing), and lived within a little Muslim Community. I did not have any non-Muslim friends, was encouraged not to associate with non-Muslims in a manner other than a professional one, and any of the Muslim girls who did not follow Islam as suggested by the Community were talked about in such a way that made you think, “Man. Sucks to be her.”

I started college in 2007, where I took a Creative Writing class, made some friends and met the man who would later become my husband. Alex and I became great friends, and in 2009 we got married. I remember thinking when I found out he was a Jew, “Seriously. I had to find the one Jew on campus!” Anyway. Alex considers himself Jewish. His mother is a Messianic Jew, and his father is a Methodist. My closest friends here are Catholic, Missionary Baptist, Methodist/Episcopalian, and whatever they call a person who goes to The Christian Church. Just Christian? I don’t know. Disciple of Christ? I’m feeling a little ignorant right now. But back to my point. I currently am hosting an awesome foreign exchange student from Pakistan who is Muslim. Every weekend, my mother-in-law’s exchange students hang out at my house. The Spanish one is Atheist, and the Chinese one is Buddhist. I have friends and acquaintances who call themselves Wiccan. Some who consider themselves Pagan. My grandfather-in-law is Southern Baptist. My husband’s uncle is also Missionary Baptist and goes to the same church as my friends. My son’s bus driver is an elder at the Baptist Church right next door to my house. He invited us to a candle lighting ceremony last Christmas, which I did attend. My local gas station is run by my Muslim Shi’a friend, we call him Sonny. His son won first place in the baby contest this year, and his wife is a sweetheart. Some of my friends include US Veterans of the Iraq War and the Gulf War. A close friend of our family is a Vietnam War Vet, and my father-in-law is a Korean War Vet. I have a friend in the army who just came home from Afghanistan.

I live in the Bible Belt. I don’t eat pork. I don’t eat shellfish. I follow Kosher laws (which are similar but not the same as Halal laws) out of respect for my husband. I read the news daily. I follow the goings-on in the Middle East. I follow the politics of our government. I follow the Israeli news sites, I read Arabic news sites. I have 10 religious apps on my phone, one of which is a Jewish Holidays app, another is a collection of the 40 Qudsi Hadith, and yet another is a Bible Study Toolbox.

Does this prove anything? I don’t know. Maybe not. I’m sure some people think it’s blasphemous that my Bible Study Toolbox app (which includes the Old and New Testaments) is right next to my Islamic Hub app. But you know, I can’t expect God to answer my prayers and enlighten me without putting my own effort into it. So yeah, I surround myself with people who have different views than my own. People who are Republicans, people who are Democrats, Independents, Communists, Libertarians, Muslims, Jews, Christians, Buddhists, Atheists, Wiccans, Pagans, and other assorted varieties.

My “bubble” may not be perfect. It may include Shabbat candles and Kiddush cups. But it also includes a Qur’an, a King James Bible, and a Tanakh. It even includes the Periodic Table of Elements. And a little bit of Netflix.

People assume that because my husband is Jewish he has managed to brainwash me. Pfft. Anyone who knows us can tell you there’s no “Jewish bubble.” Our family is one that thrives on debate and arguments and disagreements. That moment when you’ve been arguing for half and hour, and finally decide to look it up and prove them wrong! Only to find out you were actually the one who was wrong. Or you both were wrong. Or the occasional event in which you win the argument. It’s about learning, expanding your knowledge, and focusing on what the truth is, instead of being ignorant. The only way to learn is to surround yourself by things you know nothing about. To set aside your fear of whatever it is that keeps you from questioning anything. To realize that what comes out of a person’s mouth is said by man. It is not scripture. It is not infallible. Just because someone said so, doesn’t make it true.

If I’m in a bubble of any sort, it’s an American bubble. A bubble that doesn’t discriminate or discredit another person’s beliefs simply because I disagree. The amazing thing about American media is that they don’t censor outside news. I can find news from other countries just as easily as I can read CNN. Hell, we send our journalists overseas to get the inside scoop on what’s going on. It’s not America who’s beheading them, keeping them from bringing back their reports. Sometimes no amount of evidence will convince people that you’re really not out to get them. And that’s fine. But just because you’re afraid of the world, don’t assume that I’m brainwashed, uneducated, or isolated.

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“You Should know Better!”

Politics

Those are the words that inspired — yes, inspired — me to begin this journey of what I like to call “a journey of enlightenment.” You should know better! In other words, I should be ashamed that I’m even considering a point of view different than the one I have been taught. I decided something wasn’t clicking, and it just wasn’t making sense. I shared this idea with others, and immediately earned much criticism.

The specific situation that sparked this criticism is the situation in Gaza. I had a friend who shared a video of the Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu claiming that he didn’t care how many innocent civilians were killed, and that he didn’t have to explain himself to the Americans. It was a poorly spliced video, and yet I noticed that people actually believed he said that. So I made the comment that the video was spliced, and linked them to the original video.

The comments that followed are as follows (these will only be snippets, as the conversation became heated and lengthy):

It’s edited HOWEVER…this is the reality.No, it isn’t, but I guess that’s a matter of opinion.

I think your facts are a bit skewed Amira.” They wouldn’t be facts then, would they?

Also, I’m a bit disappointed by your defense. I mean really?” Is that a fact?

“Get your facts straight before opening your mouth Amira, you should know better!Know better? Are we on the same page? Because the one I’m on has a spliced video that you’re defending.

I agree with A****, your statements sound like American propaganda and maybe you should look at other sources.Need I point to the video in the original post… again?

I thought you knew better….Well, I didn’t. I never have. I just believed anything I was told.

Wow…really sad. Amira you wouldn’t leave your house, if you had no where else to go.” There’s always somewhere to go if the attack target is small enough. I would rather be unsure that I will live, than know that I will die.

“And yep, you are as blind and as ignorant as they come. A joke really a joke.” Show me your sources!

“Do you have to lie to yourself to make yourself feel good or something?” I try, but the scales just won’t take off those ten pounds!

Get real and quit lying.I’m not actually sure what she thought I was lying about. Possibly my claim that Hamas is telling its citizens not to leave their homes. Or that Hamas refused to honor the cease-fire that Israel honored… twice.

I can’t believe you are spewing this…….of course we check our facts! But you sound like you are not…you sound like propaganda.Again… are we on the same page? Do you know what “propaganda” means?

Got it. Thanks for your point of view. We know where your loyalties lie.I guess because I knew her in high school for a few years she knows EVERYTHING about me.

I’m done with this conversation Amira. You offer no real intellectual debate & you continually ignore my points.Just so you all know, the conversation didn’t end there. And this statement was followed by like, a novel.

And you are the pot calling the kettle black. You say of course you sound like propaganda because you don’t agree with shady information? But you won’t even acknowledge you were wrong about the call notification thing.I wasn’t wrong, by the way, and I shared a few of my sources with her.

These comments were made by a total of three people, only one of whom I actually know. It was amazing really to see how quickly people were ready to judge me as soon as I disagreed with them. The statements I made that they disagreed with were that Hamas needs to let up, that it’s good for the Israelis that they have the Iron Dome, and that Israel was in fact warning the citizens of Gaza before an attack. They asked for evidence of my claims. I provided them. One of the girls seemed convinced that I said they were sending out texts to the Palestinians. I didn’t say that, but she misread, which she did eventually admit.

The only time I ever issued anything remotely close to an insult was when one of them was absolutely convinced she knew me enough to say that I wouldn’t leave my home if I was under threat. I called her insane. And I stand by my statement.

These were not the only people who tried to shame me into agreeing with them. There were two others. But I love them dearly, and though we disagree on this, I respect them and their opinions. Because unlike the above commentators, they actually do know me.

I would like to conclude this post by sincerely thanking the ladies above, and all who have inspired me to go forth on my little journey. I don’t know where it will take me, but I think the credit should be given especially to the women I quoted above. I can’t say that I respect them, because I feel they are rather insulting and condescending (and their idea of proof is that I should know better. Like the information somehow made its way into my head without me knowing). But their effort to shame me into agreeing with them has helped me open my eyes to the sort of pressure put on people to see things a certain way.

So again, thank you. You are truly an inspiration.