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Caught in the Crossfire


Before September 11, New York's Arab population was an immigrant group making its way like any other: politically diverse; assimilated and separatist; Muslim, Christian, and fundamentalist; wealthy and working class; struggling and successful.

But when two planes hijacked by Islamic extremists destroyed the World Trade Center, the lives of this ethnic group changed within hours. Whether they like it or not, Americans of Arab origin are now caught in the crossfire of President Bush's war on terrorism. Many find themselves caught between belief in the American dream and dissent from American foreign policy, between empathy with victims and anger at being stereotyped, between their new lives in America and the powerful ties that bind them to their homelands.

Centered in New York City, where September 11 directly affected Arab Americans from every walk of life (including scores who were killed in the World Trade Center), CAUGHT IN THE CROSSFIRE puts viewers in the shoes of three individuals, each of whom - because of their job and/or place in the community - has had a particularly tricky road to navigate in recent months. The characters featured in the film are:

Ahmed Nasser

  Ahmed Nasser, a New York City cop from Yemen who was stationed at ground zero. In the aftermath of the terrorist attacks, he learned that some fellow officers ignored or minimized calls for help from harassed Arab Americans in the community, and joined with other Muslim cops to provide protection for the community.

Khader El-Yateem, a Christian minister who considers his homeland Palestine, leads a church in Brooklyn. Most of his family lives in the occupied West Bank.  Father Khader El-Yateem

Raghida Dergham

  Raghida Dergham, a high-level Lebanese American diplomatic correspondent and journalist working at the United Nations. The Lebanese government is indicting her for "dealing with the enemy" for appearing on television with an Israeli.

Arab Americans have an immigrant experience that is at once typical and unique - like many immigrants, they are torn between their adopted country and their homeland, between modern American culture and ancient traditions. As Arab Americans now wrestle with their place in a changed America, CAUGHT IN THE CROSSFIRE gives voice to a people whose stories need to be heard.

The People Their Homelands Arab Americans After 9/11: Stories Talkback The Filmmakers Resources Broadcast