Oh, I know Katsav isn’t Arab. He’s Iranian. But, what’s the difference, right?
He comes out of the Arab and Islamic dominated Middle East in a culture where the accountability of the leaders is non-existent.
That is really the issue here.
Katsav is attacked for immoral actions that are criminal in nature and what’s his response? The same response you usually hear from Arabs and Muslims when they are criticized for immoral and illegal conduct: “It’s the fault of the Zionist controlled media.”
Katsav attacked the Israeli media saying basically that they were picking on him because he is Persian. Well, he may have a point. While Russian Jews are building a mafia-like underground in Israel, Katsav becomes the focus of the country at a time when Iran has even surpassed Palestinians as the people most disliked by Israelis.
I watched a translation of Katsav’s comments on Israeli TV from my hotel room in Jerusalem. I am touring Israel headlining standup comedy show appearances with Israeli comedians Yisrael Campbell, Channel 10's Shachar Chason and veteran Israeli comic Charley Warady. My Chicago friend, African American Jewish comedian Aaron Freeman, is also touring with us.
Katsav angrily blamed all of his troubles on the Jewish media. He blamed Israeli reporters for his troubles.
As I watched, it occurred to me that Katsav could have been any king, president or dictator in any one of the Arab or Muslim countries. When they do something wrong or get in trouble, they blame it on the Jewish media, too. It’s not their fault.
Katsav comes from the Middle Eastern world. He represents the worst aspects of Arab and Islamic Culture, where many leaders become leaders not through achievement but through the demonizing of someone else. The best way to win in Arab and Islamic culture is to bring down all of your critics. In theory, if you lower your foes and your critics, in a relative manner, you elevate yourself.
Usually, these “leaders” are in the gutter of immorality, and that is why their attacks are so vicious, because in order for them to bring their critics down below them, they have to drag them below the gutter they are already in.
It’s cultural. When you are attacked, you defend yourself not by addressing the issues, in this case his alleged sexual misconduct against women who worked in his office and others.
You create false issues. The Arab and Islamic Worlds are masters at that tactic, because they learned it from the best. The West. Yes. The Western World handpicked all of the dictators that the West now denounces as dictators.
But relativity also plays hard in that history, too. The West loves dictators who love them and do their bidding, and then only out those dictators that seem to stand up to them, like Saddam Hussein who was murdered after a phony kangaroo court trial manipulated by the United States, once his benefactor and ally. Katsav is basically an Arab or Muslim World leader being persecuted by the unjust unfair Israeli (Jewish) media.
Arabs do have sense of humor
The Arab and Muslim World is plagued by hypocrisies that Arabs and Muslims often prefer to not see or acknowledge. They turn away and then attack the people who bring up the issues. It’s one reason why there is so much resistance in the Arab and Muslim World against “standup comedy.”
Standup comedy is different from regular humor that is very common in the Arab and Muslim World. The stereotype that Arabs and Muslims don’t have a sense of humor is inaccurate. They do have a sense of humor.
But standup comedy isn’t just humor. It is a powerful way to communicate. It is a way to make a social statement, to challenge societal practices, stereotypes and especially politicians.
Standup comedy satirizes society, politics, cultures and people and satire is basically a form of criticism done in a more entertaining way - which means that when you use satire or humor to criticize something, it gets more attention. More people listen and in the end, absorb the message.
Instead of launching into an ugly and public attack against the media, Katsav should have either simply denied the wrongdoing or kept his mouth shut.
Keep in mind, even an indictment is NOT a conviction. Many people get indicted for criminal behavior are later found to be innocent. He could be. Although personally, I doubt it.
Or, Katsav could have used humor. He could have invited a group of comedians like us, for example, and we could have parodied his responses in a funny way. Iranians are not without some humor.
Iranian President Mohammad Khatami made a jovial reference to Katsav during an interview with a senior editor of Yedioth Ahronoth while they were at the Davos Economic Conference. Khatami was born two years after Katsav in the same Iranian city, Yazd. “What are you doing to my townsman?” Khatami said.
Of course, he must be a comedian. Khatami also told Senior Editor Sever Plocker that he hoped to one day visit his country. I’m sure, like when Israel might go by a different name. Khatami said he wanted to visit “your country” and apparently, at least from what I read, did not use the word “Israel.”
If Katsav is innocent of the charges, everyone, including the Israeli people, is going to want a dose of humor to cool off the animosity that has been caused.
And maybe if Arabs and Muslims are watching Katsav, they should drop the holier-than-thou smarminess. Many Arabs and Muslims are pointing to Katsav as “evidence of the corruption of the Zionist entity.”
No, habibi. Katsav is really a mirror of the corruption that does exist in the Middle East and does get exposed in Israel, but that is rarely if ever addressed in the Arab and Muslim Worlds.
Arab and Muslim World corruption is often swept under a rug. And anyone who tries to raise the issues are dealt with, and not as ineffectively as Katsav dealt with the Israeli media.
Ray Hanania is currently touring Israel with the Israeli-Palestinian Comedy Tour. Their web page is www.IPCOmedyTour.com