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Caught in the Crossfire



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H Lewis
New York, NY
If, as your web site states, 12% of Arab Americans are Protestant, why was one of the three "typical" Arab Americans a Lutheran Minister? And why were his Arab-American concerns so tied into the Israeli-Palestinian situation, rather than his experiences in America as an Arab-American? Where was the Israel side of the story of his claims to have been so mistreated and even tortured by the Israelis? How did your journalists check out his story? If it cannot be verified, a correction needs to be run.

Spokane, WA
I want to ask a question of these people ... Suppose I, an American citizen, am living in your country, working hard, making a living, raising and educating my children, worshiping my Christian God freely, causing no trouble, etc. The papers allowing me to live in your country expired a long time ago, but no one noticed, so I just kept doing what I was doing and so far I've had no trouble. Then, one beautiful crisp day - suddenly, with no warning - two airplanes are flown, deliberately - as an act of terrorism - into two landmark buildings in your most populated city, instantly cremating nearly three thousand people - good people, innocent people - just obliterated - in minutes. The airplanes were flown by citizens of my country - the United States of America - and their intention was to devastate and hurt your people in any way they could because you worship the "wrong" God and live the "wrong" way.

Here's the question: Do you think there would be any time for me to worry a bout anyone being mean to me? How long and how comfortable do you think my life would be if this happened in your country?

oh- and by the way, they put stones in the snowballs they threw at me when I was young, too - my family was poor, you see. White, indeed - but poor. Somehow we had to learn to get past it and get on with living.

As I watched this special, I was saddend. Sad in a way, that we all need to remember every person living in America is an immigrant(except for the Native Americans). My heart goes out to all Americans. I say all Americans. Everyone puts so much emphasis on what the right way to say things like Arab, Black or African, Russian, Muslim etc.... I don't understand why everyone can't just use the term Human. I am human and I live in America to which I am proud(or any other country you may live in). In the end it all comes down to Human. We all have a soul. How we choose to live our lives determines where our soul will go. And that is in any religion. No person should be subjected to what has happened. The public is scared of what is happening to this country and don't know what to do. So they lash out at every person they believe is the same culture as the people who attacked America. This is what makes me sad. No matter what has happened, people need to remember that the evil of one is not the evil of all. Every time I hear anything of September 11, my heart is saddend. Not for only the people whom lost their lives that day but for the lives being lost now. By this I mean for every yelled obscinity to any race, I believe you lose a piece of yourself, and a piece of the American way. The American way was and still should be the land for a better life. Not a land for hatred and the scared. I understand there are alot of people out there like that. I look at life like this. Do not judge, for thyself will be judged. Do unto others as you would have done to you. This I live by my whole life. I treat everyone the same. If I am given reason to not treat you the same. That 1 person is the one I will treat the same they treat me, not the entire collection of that 1 persons culture. My heart goes out to all Humans. I will say sorry to all those who have been subjected to any discrimination. I say this for those people that do it and are scared to admit they sho uldn't. So to all those being subjected to hatred because of their culture, know this not all of us hate and blame you for what 1 person whom just happens to be the same culture as you did to this country. I hope that we can all start healing instead of just digging the wound deeper. After all, in the end we still all have to live on this planet together. Be kind to all.

Just another Human.

I find it interesting to read the comments of Americans versus Canadians. Americans always have so much anger but always sound so ignorant. When I speak to many of my friends from Asia, Europe, Canada, South American, North Africa and the Middle East, one thing is always noted: because of the way that many Americans go off the tangent with their comments, many people around the world look at America as the big Salesperson. Good talkers but ignorant and oblivious to the obvious.

I have just gotten off the phone with a few other people after watching this film. We all agree that it was well done in representing the diversity of the Arab Peoples. A very knowledgeable piece; with the intent to educate the ignorant, and perhaps shed some light for those who have always wondered. The interesting thing is that I am SURE that many Americans had no idea that there were Christian Arabs in Palestine.

One comment I just read was that Arabs were not the problem, but Islam (as noted by Gabe Beckmann). First of all, ISLAM, Like Christianity and Judaism has its core: it is a peaceful religion. The Essence of it, if properly studied, can be applied to every aspect of life. MUSLIMS, are people. Like the other Religions of the BOOK (Christianity and Judaism), there are different sects and different interpretations. Some practice one way, others another way and many do not practice anything at all. Am I to assume that because of the history of the KKK in America, All Christians are racists? Am I to assume that because of these White Supremist Groups who preach Christianity, that Christianity is the Enemy because a lot of them are Christian? Should I assume that every White Male in his mid thirties is a potential Serial Murder or Rapist because he fits the profile of one? I guess if I was uneducated and ignorant I would.

The sickness of ignorance that surrounds many Americans is the reason that many of them are overall, sadly despised by many people in the world. They give the sad impression of opening their mouth first without actually investigating...they are known for being 'good talkers' hence a salesman who makes the sales and earns the commission but you know that they can talk more than they can chew. Perhaps if the viewers looked more at these films with a more open mind, a chance to gain some new Un-biased Knowledge, then perhaps the comments that follow would allow them to sound more intelligent than they are. The deal is this: many people have suffered over the years, because of ignorance, racism and bigotry. But those same people who once suffered now have become more successful than those who complain about the 'damn immigrants' and their Amerikkka.

A comment made by a viewer noted, The proper title for your website would be "Arab Americans Caught in the Crossfire". How ignorant. First of all, being ARAB is comparable to one saying, BEING EUROPEAN or BEING NORTH AMERICAN. You have a basket full of different types of fru its. Unfortunately, it is viewed by many of the ignorant as being the same eggs in one basket.

America was originally built on the blood of others; later, immigrants came with nothing and built empires and succeeded in fulfilling that "American Dream". It is because of those stories that many people, despite "complaints' of Amerikkka, continue to flow in from around the globe. It was reality then and its reality now and it is the reality of the Future. Without Immigrants, America would be Nothing but a land whose empires were built with Free Labour (slavery) and whose plants and trees were fertilized by the blood of the First Nations who were massacred in the thousands. The country does not belong more to those of Euro descent than of Middle Eastern descent or Asian Descent. And if you really think about it, the Land really belongs to the The First Nations, The true Natives of this Continent who had much of it stripped from them. The internal and physical struggles show n in this short film can be shared by many immigrants who first come to America as well as Canada as well as the First Nation themselves. Those who cannot relate or feel anything, perhaps its time they did some soul searching

Seems like a few "cases in point" are showing themselves in this forum. Guys, stop being bigots. This isn't the time or place for such behaviour.

Many of the comments were by people that continue to look for something to hate in these people or for political or sentimental reasons seek to vilify Arabs. I have countless times seen comments by Arab Americans that showed the deepest sorrow for what happened on 9/11. I have never seen a web site that did not begin by expressing sorrow for the 9/11 event. Yet some of the people that made comments employ dishonest statements to the contrary. Despite what we must understaned is a very deep tragedy for our nation and also for the Arabs among us too many people have responded to this site with with statements of hatred.

Yes there is the American Indian who understands. It is no small wonder that the Arabs have so much respect for this noble people that have been and continue to be damaged by the Europeans that came here. I think that the Arab bashing will blow over but this tendancy to look for someone to hate now that we are not allowed to hate blacks seems to continue. Most Americans are fair minded but it seems that we have too many that have this afliction of racism. When will this minority learn? I do and have felt deeply for American Indians. I have watched blacks brutilized in the South. After WWII I feld deeply about what happend to Jews and others in WWII. But I don't see people learn from this. Your TV program just wanted to show in a very small measure what it is like presently to be an Arab American. No Arab here is asking for pity. But what I have just read is disturbing for the most part.

Excellent show. I wish there was more such productions. It is time that we listen to all perspectives. We must ourselves stop a foreign policy of intervention, violence, occupation, and state terrorism if we wish to live a world of peace and justice.

Mazin Qumsiyeh
Orange, CT
I literally cried when I saw the segment showing the older Al-Yateem's reaction to the news of their town (Beit Jala) being bombed indiscriminately by the Israeli army. I was struck by how similar they looked to my parents (also Christian Palestinians). I was struchk by the tragedy we all face as we integrate into American society while seeing our own tax dollars (to the tune of several billion dollars per year) being extorted from our congress by the Israeli lobby and then used to cause such devastation of our partents' homeland. I came to this site hoping to see what other Americans thought. Instead, I saw the usual Zionist tribal vitriol trying to villify Arabs (whether Christian or Muslim). What a shame. It just makes me feel so depressed to see that there are still people so fixated on defending Israel right or wrong, that they are willing to say and do anything. In the process they hurt all of us. Israelis themselves are questioning with hundreds refusing to serve in the oc cupied areas and thousands demonstrating. Isn't it time for this violence and mayhem to end? Isn't it time to recognize the humanity in all?

Unlike previous generations of immigrants to America, the Arab Americans portrayed in the documentary are kept in close, sometimes daily, contact with their nations of origin through global telecommunications. In some senses these immigrants are denied the opportunity for a clean break from their past that separation from the homeland once forced on new immigrants. Keeping constant contact with communities in the "Old World" may be comforting on one level, but it also seems to intesify the inner conflict felt by all immigrants between maintaining old ties and building an American life of their own choosing.

ted wendeln
dayton, oh
A very good representation of Arab- American life in the U.S. since September 11th. There need to be more depictions like this, of not only Arab-Americans, but Arabs throughout the world. By demonizing Arabs we are in affect demonizing ourselves. We must move beyond the mass hysteria that doesn't see the individuals involved, but lays blame upon an entire people. With the help of programs like this, we can only hope that more Americans will realize that the wholesale hate for one race or religious group is the only form of terror that we need to fear.
Thank you,
Ted Wendeln

Debra Key Newhouse
York, PA
There are not enough programs showing what it's like to be an Arab-American, and I highly applaud PBS for airing this story. My beloved son-in-law is a Palestinian Muslim, and I never understood the true plight of the Palestinian people until he came into our lives. Now that I understand, I will never forget. We seem to whitewash our history in how we have treated Native Americans, Jews, Italians, Irish (remember the "No Irish Need Apply" signs?), etc. Now let's come together as a nation and realize that being an Arab does not mean being a terrorist. After all, enough terrorism has been committed within our own country by our own people. Think of some of the Arab-Americans we have come to love - Danny Thomas, Casey Kasem, Tony Shaloub and Jamie Farr. I doubt if any of us would think of them in an anti-American way. Let's judge a person by his/her character, not by his nationality or religion. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was not the only person with a dream - all of our ancesto rs had them. That's what makes this nation great. And that's what makes me proud that my son-in-law will soon be a citizen of this great nation.

Thank you PBS for showing a side the average US citizen doesn't often see or think about.

"Caught in the Crossfire" was a great eye-opener. It allowed watchers to take a step back and see that Arabs from various backgrounds all believe in the same thing and that is: "We are all UNITED."

It's sad reading some of the comments that have already been posted on your site b/c it just proves how ignornant many are (It seems like some are writing from a political standpoint--when this really should be looked at from a humanitarian standpoint.) I feel that it's showslike these that help to facilitate discussion and enable us to learn more about one another. Great job and THANKS PBS!!

I thought this show was excellent, it brought tears to my eyes to see what had happen and still is happening to us the arab americans after 9/11. i just want to thank PBS for doing a show like this, since no other network really seems to be focusing on arab americans, and what we really are and not the terrorist that the media makes us look like.

Davis McOriaty, DDS
Palm Coast, FL
I do think it's about time that some ink was devoted to the tribulations of Arab Americans. We in this great USA never are given the other side of matters regarding the Israeli VS Arab views. Most all of our media is tilted toward our governments Israeli views, and never seem to consider that a more balanced foreign policy is what the 'outside world' craves.

Toronto, Ontario
I don't see the connection between "Israel" and the Saudis who perpetrated the crime against Americans on 9/11.

It seems like the producers are trying to deflect the blame away from the American foreign policy that led to the attack, and put the blame somewhere else.

Bernard P. Gilbert
When I look at Muslim-American web sites (CAIR, for example), I see countless items denouncing perceived civil rights intrusions and anti-Arab/anti-Muslim bias. I see countless items blasting Israel and American support of Israel, and supporting the Palestinians. I see write-your-congressman campaigns to protest the treatment Arab-Americans get here, and I see polls inviting me to vote on whether Ariel Sharon (but not Yassir Arafat, Saddam Hussein or even Osama bin Laden) should be indicted as a war criminal. I see news items chronicling apparently every injustice ever suffered by any Arab-American since September 11, 2001, and I see input screens inviting me to register any ill treatment I think I might have received, along with graphs documenting how terribly Muslim Americans are treated in America.

And then I see, tucked carefully away in a corner almost as an afterthought, a carefully worded statement that the web site's organization condemns the September 11 attacks. "Oh yeah, we're against what happened on September 11. Now that we've gotten that out of the way, let's get back to our complaints about America."

Maybe American Arabs and Muslims need to do a little less complaining about life in the United States, a little less apologizing for our enemies, a little less demonizing of our friends. Maybe American Arabs and Muslims need to proclaim, loundly and publicly, "We support the war on terrorism. We won't be happy until the monsters who attacked America, the land we love, have been hunted down and punished. Those who would harm us, our families, and our homes, are our enemies and the enemies of our country. They are enemies even if they claim the same faith as we do. They are enemies even if they come from the lands of our ancestors. We are Americans, we stand with America, and in defense of homes, our families, and our country, we pledge our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor."

I haven't heard anything like that come from the Muslim American community in the year since September 11, 2001. So why should anyone be surprised when other Americans treat them with suspicion and hostility?

Gabe Beckmann
It is not necessarily Arabs who are having a problem in the U.S.; it is Islam. Islam makes claims to be both a religion and a political/legal system, and one that is better than and exclusive of all others. It's stated goal, like that of fascism and communism, is to displace pluralistic systems such as ours. Therefore, it is our enemy.

Arabs are not the only people caught in the crossfire. Jews are also caught in the crossfire. The proper title for your website would be "Arab Americans Caught in the Crossfire".

It would have been helpful to the Arab community, if in the aftermath of 9/11, Arab American leaders (not to mention the Palestinian people) had demonstrated against the terrorists rather than celebrate the mass murder.

My father came to this country when he was 2 or 3 years old in 1911 or 1912. As a small boy in Scranton, PA, he remembered other children throwing snowballs filled with stones at him. Although he had 3 children and a fourth on the way, he helped break the religous barriers of the marines when he was one of the first Jews allowed to enlist in 1942.

Every ethnic group has had difficulties in assimilating. Italian, Japanese and German Americans had the problem of having their relatives being the enemy. Yet, with few exceptions, they did not cheer enemy victories. Instead they voted with their feet and fought the enemy. Even Black Americans fought the enemy though they were legally second class citizens who did not come here voluntarily.

Now, we have a picture of many Islamic Americans raising money for terrorist groups and the rest not speaking out about that. As a result, regretfully, many non-Muslim Americans display prejudice.

Everything in the U.S. is about race and race relations. Now, it is also about religion. The more visible, the worse... When will America wake up to its promises of freedom and equality for all? White European America--in its European tradition--has failed the ethnic minorities of this country. It's time for the bigots to rethink their position given the fact that they will be the minority in a not so far away future, and what treatment and policies will they hope for? Minorities can see through bigoted behavior and policies designed to label and ostracize them. America is being brought down by a majority of white, European self-proclaimed "patriots" solely interested in dominating the rest of the world culturally, economically and politically--just like the Europeans at the beginning of the century who failed miserably, but wreaked so much havoc on other peoples. When will they learn? Must history repeat itself again and again?

Ray Warren
I think it is high time that we demand and expect that the Saudis no longer underwrite a world wide school network that teaches to hate Judeo-Christian values-to breed America haters. If they want American bases on their soil there needs to be a political quid-pro-quo.

It is time for the UN to take over the administration of the West Bank and Gaza from the Palestinina Authority and restore a normal life to the Palestinians and Jews. The PLO is totally corrupt has succeeded in moving Fatahland from Lebanon to the West Bank and Gaza.

Bob M. Christensen
The backlash against Americans from the Middle East is both unacceptable and shameful. If we--"we" referring to all Americans--don't realize that most Arab Americans are good, peaceful people, we will create an enemy within. Arabs should be treated with the same respect that other immigrants are treated. When hate is concealed as patriotism, true patriots have a negative shadow cast upon them. Hate is the reason why the events of September 11th, 2001 occured. We cannot let this same hate tear our country and world apart.

Becky McElroy
My grandfather came over from Germany as a small boy. Being born and raised in the United States of America, I have enjoyed priveledges my grandfather never had. I was raised in an atmosphere of tolerance toward other nationalities and immigrants as a whole. If we judge all middle-easterners, or all muslims, or all of any one part of society, then we are no better than Hitler or binLaden. There are good and bad in every society, and in every profession. If we continue to be angry at those who committed the terrible acts of 9/11, we are only hurting ourselves by refusing to allow healing. We must remember that healing can be painful. Just ask a burn victim, or an amputee, or even just think about a fairly minor wound you have experienced yourself. As those nerve endings reconnect, they often cause false pain signals to our brain. Facing the pain allows us to heal. I am in no way trying to minimize the terror and tragedy so many have gone through, for you have truly been through more than most of the rest of us will, God willing, never experience. Forgiveness brings healing, and that is essential to our survival.

Emmy RedEagle K.
I am American Indian and we American Indians know exactly how all Arabs feel about what is happening in your homeland. From a American Indian perspective we sympathize with both the need to return one's homeland and the desire not to be displaced by "settlers".

My native brothers and sister been suffering for over 500 years. For the last two plus centuries; the Euro-American hordes; by their weapons and their hidious diseases; the massive land theft committed by the US government; and the greatest demographic disaster in world history (by 1900 only 237,000 US Indians left from an original population estimated anywhere from 6-60 million). The US gov't has the most tarnished, disgraceful and heinous relationship with Native Americans nations stretching back to its inception in 1776. The genocidal wars conducted against Native people from 1776 until the closing years of 19th century were carried out by soldiers. The list of massacres and genocidal campaigns is long and truly agonizing but a few will suffice to make the point: the merciless clubbing to death by US militia of Delaware in 1781, the extermination against the Cherokee in 1776, the Iroquois in 1779, Sac and Fox (Black Hawk War) in 1832, 1830's Tears of Trail of Southern tribes with tens of thousands dead; the 1863 Bear River Massacre of hundreds of Shoshones, the Sand Creek Massacre of Cheyennes and Arapaho; the 1878 Fort Robinson slaughter of defenseless Cheyennes; the Skeleton Cave massacre of Apaches; the Navajo Long Walk; Massacre of the Pomos in California and lastly but not least the infamous Wounded Knee Massacre of 1890. Entire volumes could be filled with other US massacres, atrocities and genocides of Native Americans.

We are strong people of this nation. We will exist today and forever. I tell you this because I believe the Arabs are strong people too and they too will exist today and forever. American Indian people believe, "all men were made by the same Great Spirit(God) and we are all brothers/sisters, the earth is the mother of all people and all people should have equal rights upon it".
I will continue to pray for peace in your homeland. Pinagigi (thank you)

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