In the Palestinian-Israeli debate, name calling comes easy. In fact, if someone didn’t call me a name, I’d figure that I was doing something wrong.
That’s one of the real tragedies of the conflict. Emotions and hate are so high that the entire community of Palestinians and Israelis are dragged down to the lowest common denominator.
I get loads of hate email and letters.
But if opinion columnists wanted friends, their only option would be to go out and get a dog. I have two.
If you really want to hurt a columnist, the most effective way is to call him or her a name, but not tell them which column you are complaining about.
Columnists take all criticism seriously. Even the haters in their viciousness have a point. Somewhere.
So good writers look at everything. They also recognize that the people who agree are rarely moved to write and say so. It’s those who are angry who email, write or call.
Hate without context is the ultimate insult
The criticism that causes consternation, though, is the criticism that is opened ended, like the one I received from a writer who used a Washington Post email address - I’m told the writer hacked the system. Right. As if that excuses the Washington Post’s biases.
Anyway, this writer used a lot of brain power. Put a lot of effort into the email. It was short and to the point.
I had to delete a few letters from the expletives. But here it is.
“East s--- and die. Sand Nig--r!”
I was so mad. No, not because of the inherent violence reflected in the writer’s hatred, nor about being called the “SN” word. I was most mad because the writer didn’t tell me which column provoked the anger.
That’s not fair.
Writers have egos, too, you know. We’re no different than politicians like Benjamin Netanyahu. It’s about us. Imagine how boring Thomas Friedman of the New York Times would be if he wasn’t writing about himself all the time?
The worst thing you can do to a journalist is call him a name but not tell the columnist what you are angry about. Hate without context is the ultimate insult.
Was it my columns at Creators Syndicate which analyze the Middle East conflict from a moderate Palestinian voice? Was it my regular columns for several Chicago newspapers analyzing American politics?
Was it my few columns in the Arab World media challenging the growing fanaticism of the Islamists who have hijacked true Islam and replaced it in their teachings and actions with an ugly distorted version of what is a peaceful religion?
Was it my writings here at Ynetnews, one of the few places where a Palestinian can actually express his views uncensored? True freedom, they call it. It’s not something easily experienced in the Arab media, which drops you like a bad penny (Shekel or Dinar in your part of the world) if they happen to not like your viewpoint.
Was it my denunciation of suicide bombings or Hamas terrorism? Was it my call for Israel to concede more land and to share Jerusalem? Was it my criticism of Netanyahu? The fanatic settler movement? The Wall, the fence, the barrier, or the darker green line? Or my criticism of Alan Dershowitz, the lawyer who not only defends Israel but also defends reputed mobsters?
I was beside myself.
Was he talking about me?
Of course, worse than not knowing what was being criticized, of course, is the thought that they mixed you up with someone else.
To be hated is one thing. To be ignored is a columnist’s hell!
It is very possible that the writer got me mixed up with another “Ray Hanania.”
Hanania is not a common American name. Palestinian by ethnicity but Hebrew by origin, it means “God has been gracious” or “God has forgiven you,” depending on how generous you want to be, of course.
There are Christian Hananias, Muslim Hananias and many Jewish Hananias. But, I am the only one named “Raymond.”
And that is a fluke in and of itself.
My mom was in a hospital in Chicago and she couldn’t’ speak a word of English. After giving birth, all she heard over the intercom was ‘Dr. Raymond. Dr. Raymond.”
You know Arab (and Jewish) mothers. They either want their sons to be doctors or grocery store owners.
Of course, my dad could speak English and he got the hospital to drop the word “doctor” from my birth certificate.
But then, how would the writer attacking me have known all that?
Ray Hanania writes exclusively for YnetNews.com on issues that are serious, satirical and humorous. He can be reached at www.hanania.com