Saturday, April 12, 2014

My letter to the Washington Post RE Looking for humor in the West Bank

RE Looking for humor in the West Bank by By Joel Warner and Peter McGraw
 Joel Warner is a journalist in Denver. Peter McGraw is a marketing and psychology professor at the University of Colorado at Boulder, where directs the Humor Research Lab. Together, they wrote “The Humor Code: A Global Search for What Makes Things Funny.”

Dear Editor,

Palestinian Hurriyah Ziada — Arabic for “extra freedom” finds it hilarious that her parents named her that.  I think her parents raised a daughter with a beautiful name and great sense of humor. 

I enjoyed the glance at Palestinian humor, and am not at all surprised to hear that comedy is pervasive and popular in the West Bank. I enjoyed the glance- but do not agree with the "benign violation theory" that humor arises only when something seems wrong or threatening but is simultaneously seen as okay or safe: Palestinian families living under a punitive Israeli occupation are not ok or safe at all. This is a very dangerous situation that can quickly go from bad to worse.

I think humor arises because some things are absurd. Inside jokes- private jokes, outside jokes- public jokes, all sorts of jokes are available to people able and willing to laugh, no matter who they are or where they are.  Fact is people are people everywhere: Good, bad and many things in between. Jokes too can be good, or bad, or somewhere in between.  Humor can befriend a stranger, or alienate a friend. Some jokes are hostility used as a weapon, other jokes are a genuinely light hearted and loving approach to life. 

As far as what will help end the Israel-Palestine conflict once and for all- the best bet is taking the rule of fair and just laws and full respect for universal basic human rights seriously... a fully secular two state solution is the best way forward.

Anne Selden Annab

"Ironically, the major problem facing us now is not the novelty, but the staleness, of the idea of peace between Israel and Palestine. We need to treat peace as an idea that is still fresh, or at least that can be refreshed." Tala Haikal

"Caroline Glick's The Israeli Solution: A One-State Plan for Peace in the Middle East and Ali Abunimah's The Battle for Justice in Palestine clearly stake out the same position, but in mirror image to each other. Both insist that only Jews or Palestinians, respectively, have national rights and rights to self-determination in the land between the river and the sea. Both insist that a single state is achievable and necessary, and will be a happy and peaceful polity as long as it is under the majority rule of their own community." Hussein Ibish, Surrounded by fanatics Israeli and Palestinian rhetorical extremism is old hat, but it seems to be nearing a new crescendo

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