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Friday, May 26, 2006

Neighbor or Terrorist?

My wake-up call, a process of several years, began before 9/11. I wrote the following piece before I began blogging and before I joined the Counter-Jihad:

My husband and I live in an established neighborhood which is much like a small town: when a neighbor needs help, the others of us pitch in. Also, there is not much turnover here, so when a house goes on the market, we watch closely to see who will be moving in and joining our community.

The house across the street from us stood empty for several months when the original purchasers divorced in the early 90’s. When the new neighbors Mohammed and his wife Isabel moved in, I walked over and introduced myself. I learned right away that Mohammed was the son of a former ambassador from a Middle Eastern country and had been reared right here in the D.C. area; Isabel was a second-generation Hispanic-American. The couple had been married for several years and had moved to our neighborhood because they were ready to start their family.

Over a period of several years, all of us became friends. We did pet-sitting for each other, organized yard sales together, borrowed each other’s lawn tools, and shoveled snow in the Blizzard of ’96, when the plows didn’t come and we had to dig ourselves all the way out to the main road.

When Isabel started having children, I offered to babysit from time to time so that she and Mohammed could occasionally have a night out. It was at that time that I saw an interesting photograph of Mohammed, in what appeared to be traditional Arab garb. This came as a surprise to me because I had always seen him dress in modern Western clothes. When I later asked Isabel, “Is Mohammed a sheikh?” she told me that he was. I thought nothing more about it, other than we had some pretty exotic neighbors in our little community.

In the late 90’s, Mohammad began making regular trips to the Middle East. One morning, around 4:00, I went outside to get the newspaper and saw Mohammed just arriving home. I smiled to myself, called out to him, and jokingly said, “What are you doing, coming in so late?”

He walked over to me, and that’s when I discovered that he was quite intoxicated. He slurred, “I’ve been to Vegas.”

I said, “I thought that Moslems didn’t drink.”

Mohammed morosely replied, “Maybe I’m just not a good Moslem.”

His words surprised me—never had I known Mohammed to drink or to speak about his beliefs, religious or political.

A short time later, Mohammed informed me that they were moving back to his home in the Middle East in order to conduct new business ventures there. In early 1998, he sold his business here in the D.C. area, and the entire family departed for an extended time. Both Mohammed and Isabel told me, “We’ll never sell this house. We’re coming back.” We continued to keep in touch by e-mail and every time they returned to the States, visited each other.

For a while, the house remained empty because Isabel planned to come back to the States for extended visits with her family. In the summer of 1999, I was preparing to teach a world literature course and approached Mohammed to get some advice about Middle Eastern literature. He told me that what I was planning to use, Tales from the Thousand and One Arabian Nights, was a collection of mere fairy tales and that his culture didn’t have literature as such.

Then he said something I’ll never forget: "You want to know how a Middle Eastener thinks? It's me and my brother against my cousin. And when we finish my cousin off, it's me and my brother against each other. We are Semites—Jew and Arab. We're the most treacherous people you've ever known.” He launched into a diatribe against American foreign policy, specifically mentioning his disapproval of Israel and of Madeline Albright, “a Jewess as Secretary of State.” He concluded by stating that he supported Saddam Hussein.

My impression at the time was one of “He’s trying to explain the world situation to me.” I did not feel particularly threatened or alarmed but, as odd as this now sounds, was grateful to learn about the Arab position from someone whom I considered my friend.

Until the summer 2001, we kept in touch through e-mail. They sent photos of their children and asked about the tenants now living in the house. Since 9/11, those e-mails have never resumed, nor have Mohammed or Isabel ever returned to our neighborhood. According to the tax records, their house was sold to a man in Miami; this man had an Arab surname. The house has now been resold—to the last tenants.

My post-9/11 research—at first through books available at the public library and more recently through the Internet—makes me wonder who Mohammed really is. I’ve learned that Islamists accept no literature other than the Koran. I’ve learned that the jihadists who attacked us on 9/11 made trips to Las Vegas. I’ve learned that there could be sleeper cells here in the United States and that when the call comes, they will answer.

And, yet, those years that he lived next door to us, I thought Mohammed was such a good neighbor! Now, every time pictures of wanted terrorists are released, my husband and I scrutinize those pictures. Will Mohammed’s photo appear one day?

[A similar version of the above was posted at Northern Virginiastan in 2005, when I anonymously sent the piece to Northern Virginiastan]
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posted by Always On Watch at permanent link#

12 Comments:

Anonymous eteraz said...

this is one of the more racist things i've read recently.

thank you.

please, write about affluent blacks who move into your neighborhood and then move to atlanta. i long to see what that will look like.

Friday, May 26, 2006 3:03:00 pm  
Blogger Pastorius said...

Eteraz,
I don't agree with you. AOW's point was that the guy supported the terrorist Hussein, seemed to believe in the insane ideology of killing the cousin and then setting in to work against the brother, justified the idea that there is no literature in the Arab world, and was clearly an anti-Semite

and, all this from a guy who was a friend, who seemed like such a nice guy.

I don't understand your reaction. Could you clarify?

Friday, May 26, 2006 3:41:00 pm  
Blogger Pastorius said...

Oh, by the way, if blacks were engaged in a terrorist war against the United States, if blacks worshipped almost exclusively in their own churches, if almost all of those churches contained hate literature sent to them by an African country which advised blacks not to take whites as friends, if blacks had a culture (which was established to totalitarian levels in several major nations) which forbade R&B music, and forbade women basic choice in life,

etc. etc.

If all these things were true, then we would have reason to be concerned when one of our black neighbors said things such as this Arab man did.

Do you see what I mean?

Friday, May 26, 2006 3:49:00 pm  
Blogger The Anti-Jihadist said...

Pastorius, you've noble intentions, but don't waste your time trying to make one of them see the light.

Friday, May 26, 2006 4:38:00 pm  
Blogger Pastorius said...

AJ,
Thanks for the advice, even if I won't take it.

I think you're great anyway. Hope you can deal with me.

Friday, May 26, 2006 4:54:00 pm  
Blogger The Anti-Jihadist said...

Thank you, Mr. P, the respect is mutual. I respect your intentions, regardless. In talking with the other side (AKA a 'continuous dialog'), we come to better understand our adversaries. And who knows? There's always a glimmer of hope that they may see the insanity and come over to the light.

Friday, May 26, 2006 5:27:00 pm  
Blogger Brooke said...

AoW's point is well taken.

It is a common knee-jerk reaction of the oblivious left to cry racism when confronted with an uncomfortable truth.

Friday, May 26, 2006 6:30:00 pm  
Blogger Epaminondas said...

I don't get that particular reaction Eteraz...

The dividing point there is that the guy went BACK, and in doing so displayed who he is. Just because this moron adheres to me and brother against yadda yadda is reported as this gavone's operating philosophy doesn't mean the writer is saying arabs and muslims are all treacherous sobs..he is reporting the words of one man

I have many times reported that the professionals I know here, that is to say, americans, who buy chance happen to be muslims, NONE of whom as 1st generation immigrants went back, told me not after 9/11 but after the advent of the stupendous 4000 jews didn't show up at WTC, that "Now, 'epaminondas', you UNDERSTAND ..the madness is HERE" ...these doctors and researchers said they could not bear to be in the mosque after this.

Xlation - reason has no place there. Cannot survive against this stuff.

Does this mean anything about muslims? I don't know.
It sets off SAC 'launch on warning' bells about what is taught. It sets one to wonder if this is rooted in the Quran (it sure is in the Hadiths).

YOU MIGHT KNOW. You probably think as these gents did, it's a sickening mutation.

The bottom line unmentionable ..is Islam responsible? How the hell can it be if its the same deity echoes in the mind over and over and over and over? Is what is taught so different?

It seems to be.

WHY?

Why are those who find this reprehensible so vastly in the minority?
Is this a racist question?

Friday, May 26, 2006 6:33:00 pm  
Blogger Always On Watch said...

Eterzaz said,

this is one of the more racist things i've read recently.

thank you.

please, write about affluent blacks who move into your neighborhood and then move to atlanta. i long to see what that will look like.


An interesting reaction, considering that the majority of our friends are not of the same race as my husband and I. Race has NEVER been one of our criteria for "choosing" friends.

As long as Mohammed and Isabel were our neighbors lived here, we were friends. In fact, each of us had the key to the other's house! I still have a key (don't know if it still fits, though).

One point of this story--all of which is true except for changing the names--is that I was shocked by Mohammed's words and with the venomous tone. At the time, I actually took a step back when he quoted the Arab proverb about brother and cousin.

My husband maintains that "the change" occurred after the birth of the last child, the couple's only son (as far as I know). After the son was born, Mohammed began to attend mosque regularly, and the mosque attended was also attended by a few of the 9/11 hijackers. I didn't know that at the time of the conversation I related in my account here.

Our last contact from Mohammed and Isabel was in July, 2001.

Friday, May 26, 2006 6:55:00 pm  
Anonymous eteraz said...

"You want to know how a Middle Eastener thinks? It's me and my brother against my cousin. And when we finish my cousin off, it's me and my brother against each other. We are Semites—Jew and Arab. We're the most treacherous people you've ever known.”

This proves nothing. It's like me saying: we Americans are the most cut-throat people in the world.

Um, so what?

On the basis of a passing observation you condemned this guy as a potential terrorist.

At least recognize that his statement is ANTI-himself. He realizes how often Arabs play survival of the fittest.

Give me a break.

By the way, are you suggesting this guy is Mohammad Atta? If not, then this whole post is irrelevant.

Friday, May 26, 2006 8:18:00 pm  
Blogger Pastorius said...

Man, oh man, Eteraz, I don't know why you aren't getting this.

Yes, he is anti-himself. And, that is one of our problems with what I would call Islamofascism. When Islamofascists don't have any infidels to kill they set in on themselves. It's kill, kill, kill.

This guy that AOW refers to proved himself to be a bad guy by saying he supported Hussein and by making the stupid comment about Albright being a Jewess.

Of course, that doesn't mean he is a terrorist, but he is an Islamofascist, if you ask me.

As such it is not outlandish for AOW to wonder about him.

Friday, May 26, 2006 9:11:00 pm  
Blogger Always On Watch said...

Eteraz,
By the way, are you suggesting this guy is Mohammad Atta?

No, he was not Mohammad Atta. But when my husband and I heard the name "Mohammad Atta," we checked the picture. This was, of course, in those early days after 9/11.

You don't understand the feelings we had on 9/11 and on the days shortly after. Had our neighbor still been living here on 9/11, I'd have gone across the street to ask him "What's this all about?" That's how much we trusted Mohammed and Isabel.

My sole purpose in the conversation of that day was to bring to my class some additional information about world literature/world cultures; our textbook had nothing about those areas. In fact, prior to my conversation with him, I had visited a local mosque in search of the same kind of info.

On the basis of a passing observation you condemned this guy as a potential terrorist.

No condemnation--just questions. And I'm not trying to prove anything, but rather tell what happened and how it felt.

Friday, May 26, 2006 10:15:00 pm  

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