Vous êtes sur la page 1sur 7

Liyana and Mahmoud are similar and different

Michael Warren B Period English + D period Social Studies 3/21/12

Identity is not as simple as ABC, although identity IS the actions, beliefs, and characteristics that define a person. In Habibi and Promises, Liyana and Mahmoud form their identities based on where they live, their families, and their politics. Habibi is about Liyana, a teenager who moves with her family to Jerusalem from the United States when she was 14. In 26 pages, Liyana is suddenly plunged into a completely new world where she is faced with new hardships, but also learns to love the Middle East. We learn about Liyanas struggles with politics in the Israeli army. Meanwhile, Mahmoud has lived in Jerusalem all his life, as shown in the film Promises. He is a Jerusalem Arab who lives in the Muslim quarter. Liyana and Mahmoud are both Arabs, but they have some different opinions. While Liyana and Mahmoud are both products of the Arab-Israeli conflict in the Middle East, they have generally very different world views although they share the view that Arabs should be allowed to live Jerusalem. To Mahmoud, war is the answer, but to Liyana, war is a bad choice. Liyanas identity has been influenced by her immersion in American society. Growing up in the United States for her first fourteen years gives her an outsiders view and thus, a sense of the middle ground in the Arab-Israeli conflict in the Middle East. She has not been taught all her life to hate Israelis; in fact she has not given much thought to the Middle East crisis until she

moves there. By not living in Jerusalem during her childhood, and by not being strongly attached to her religion Liyana does not know or understand why there is so much fighting in the Middle East. Liyana says, This fighting is senseless, dont you think? (165) when she is talking to her best friend Omer (a Jewish boy) about the politics in Jerusalem. She thinks fighting is senseless partly because she did not grow up in Jerusalem. Living in the US was very safe, compared to the dangers of living in Jerusalem. Furthermore, in the US, Liyana had no reason to dislike or even notice Jews. Many people who are strongly Jewish or Arab living in Jerusalem all their lives have very strong opinions about the conflict and they are sure they are right. However, her opinions on the Israelis changed when her family is treated cruelly by the Israeli army when Poppy is thrown in jail. Israeli soldiers accuse Khaled, a refugee friend of Liyanas, of planting a bomb in the market. As he emerges from his house, he is shot in the leg by one of the soldiers. Poppy is arrested when he tries to stop the solders by grabbing their guns and screaming at them to stop. When Liyana finds out about the incident she is horrified. She now thinks that the Israelis are the bad guys and that they are mean, insensible people. Before this incident, Liyana believed that she had the middle ground, that she just wanted peace. When this scene happens, Liyana says to herself: How could anybody do this? When Liyana is leaving the jail after visiting Poppy she says to the guard, YOU DO NOT HAVE TO BE THIS WAY!(232). She is upset and confused about why the guards had to be so strict and mean. Liyana thought that she was not taking a side in this battle, that she just wanted peace. However, once Liyana sees her own family and friends being subjected to this injustice, she is outraged. The moment she learns that Khaled was shot and Poppy was thrown in jail, she is

quick to dislike the Israeli soldiers. Her view on the Israeli people is now changed also. She sees what awful things are done by the soldiers and soon blames Israels people too. In the film Promises, Mahmoud is strongly influenced by his religion (Muslim) and his identity in society as an Arab in Jerusalem. He lives in the Muslim quarter in Jerusalem as the son of a coffee shop owner. As a Muslim and an Arab, he believes that Jerusalem (and what is Palestine to him) belongs to the Arabs. Mahmoud is very heavily influenced by the Koran. He says that the Koran is right and it says that Jerusalem belongs to the Arabs. Mahmoud says to the interviewer, If it is their land, why does the Koran say that the (Muslim) prophet Mohammed flew from Mecca to the Al Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem! His beliefs are based on the Koran and the Muslim religion. He has no personal reason to hate the Israeli Jews, but he hates them for reasons he has heard all his life. He has never been personally harmed or confronted by a Jew; however the history of his people (based on religious and geographical background) is what influences him to feel so strongly against the Jews, and to feel so strongly about not sharing the land with the Jews. He feels the only solution is for the Jews to leave Jerusalem and that this can only be accomplished by war. Liyana and Mahmoud have different influences in many ways. They both dislike Israeli soldiers, but for different reasons. Liyana and Mahmoud have very different personal experiences with the Israeli soldiers. Mahmoud lives in the Muslim quarter of Jerusalem. As a Jerusalem Arab, Mahmoud has special privileges such as freedom of movement in, out, and around the city of Jerusalem. He sees soldiers around the city every day but has no trouble with them. Liyana has to deal with her close friends and family being affected by the soldiers.

One of her best friends, Khaled, was shot in the leg by the Israeli soldiers and seriously injured. Her father was thrown in jail by Israeli for trying to stop the incident. The soldiers destroyed Liyanas grandmothers house looking for books that could be a bad influence on Arabs. These awful experiences with Israeli soldiers influence Liyana to dislike the Israeli army and people. Despite the fact that Mahmoud and Liyana have different personal experiences with the Israeli soldiers, they both dislike them. Mahmoud hates Israeli soldiers for taking his land whereas Liyana hates them because of her personal experience with them. Another difference between Mahmoud and Liyanas influences are the people they see every day. Liyana goes to Jerusalem for school where she is with other Arab students but she also sees a lot of Jewish people around the city of Jerusalem and shops in Jewish stores. From these experiences, she learns about both Jews and Arabs in Jerusalem. Liyanas best friend is a Jewish boy. Mahmoud only associates with Arabs because he lives in the Muslim quarter of Jerusalem. He even said that he does not want to meet other Jewish kids, even if he had the chance. Ironically, Mahmoud became close friends with the interviewer, who is Jewish. When asked by the interviewer what was the difference between the interviewer and other Jews he might meet, Mahmoud said that the interviewer was not an authentic Jew because he did not live in Jerusalem his entire life. Thus, Mahmoud feels that living in Jerusalem is an important, distinctive factor or influence on whether a person is really Jewish. Because Liyana interacts with more Jews than Mahmoud, she is more open-minded and willing to be friends with them. Here is one example of how Liyana and Mahmoud have different experiences with soldiers but have the same beliefs (that they dont like soldiers), and another example where their different experiences (with Jewish

people) lead them to have a different outlook on the Israeli Jews. Overall, they are more different than similar. Liyana feels very strongly about anti violence and protecting animals. She cares for every living thing, no matter how small. One day when Liyana and her mother go to the butchers shop to buy dinner, Liyana realized that the butcher kills the animals right in front of the customer. After witnessing a chicken lose its head, Liyana becomes a vegetarian. Its dead she announced loudly. And it didnt want to die (111). This particular experience shows Liyana that all living thing have feelings and to kill them, not caring about how the chicken sees the world, is cruel and inhumane. Liyana suddenly becomes nicer to animals after that traumatizing day. On page 145, Liyana sees a donkey on the side of road. It looks sick for it is not moving and lying down on the curb. Liyana decides that she going to help it and her mother comes along too. Liyana and her mother start spooning water in to the donkeys mouth and then suddenly as theyre doing this, the donkey dies. Liyana is very upset about this and begins to cry. The donkey opened both eyes together for the first time, stared at them, heaved his deepest breath yet and died. (146) Liyanas mother is puzzled about why Liyana cared so much about a little donkey on the side of a road. Liyana seemed to feel bad for it; she wondered what it was like to be the donkey, nobody caring or even noticing him. So she took the role of the Good Samaritan and helped a dying creature when no one else would. Another important belief of Liyanas is that people can be friends despite differences in religion. Liyana is best friends with a Jewish boy named Omer. Liyanas and Omers friendship is comparable to the Arab-Israeli conflict in that they have very different religious backgrounds. However, Liyana and Omer have learned to accept each other for who they are. Liyana says, I hope for peace,

do you? Omer replies Of course I do. Liyana and Omer have learned not to let their differences get in the way of good friendship and agree that peace is what everyone needs. Mahmoud believes that Jerusalem belongs to the Arabs and should not be shared with the Jews. He views the Jewish occupation of his land as an act of war, and believes that the only way to get the Jews out of Israel/Jerusalem is to go to war. Every year, there is a parade called the Jerusalem Day Parade. Mahmoud has to watch as the parade marches through the Muslim quarter to the Western Wall. He watches in horror as the Jews march around the city. The parade is to commemorate the reunification of Jerusalem, but to Mahmoud the whole thing is just to show the Arabs that Jerusalem is under Israeli occupation. Jerusalem isnt for the Jews. Its for the Arabs. This is just a provocation. My heart wants to burst. Mahmoud feels that parade is not to celebrate Jerusalem or the reunification; it is to show the Arabs that the Jews own Jerusalem. Mahmoud also believes that the Koran states that Muslims belong in Jerusalem. Mahmoud explains to the interviewer that the Koran clearly states that Jerusalem does not belong to the Jews, and that it does belong to the Muslims. He does not believe that there is any middle ground in having Jews and Muslims share Jerusalem because of the history of his people in Jerusalem, and his having lived as an Muslim Arab in Jerusalem all his life. He talks about violence against the Jews, and states that the more Jews that are killed, the fewer there will be, until they are all gone. Mahmoud believes that war is the only way for the Arabs to get rid of the Jews from Jerusalem. Liyana and Mahmoud have beliefs that are mostly different. A similar belief is that they are both against Israeli occupation of Jerusalem. However, Liyana believes that Jerusalem

should be shared by the Arabs and the Jews, while Mahmoud wants Jerusalem to belong solely to the Arabs. Mahmoud wants the Jews to leave Jerusalem, but Liyana believes that both Jews and Arabs should have a place in the city. Another big difference between Liyana and Mahmoud is that Liyana believes a peaceful solution can be found to allow Jews and Arabs to coexist in Jerusalem but Mahmoud believes that war is the only solution, the only to take back Jerusalem for the Arabs. He believes that war is justified not only to take back the land, but to punish the Jews, to exact vengeance on them for their crimes. Liyana and Mahmoud are similar in that they both believe that Arabs should be allowed to live in Jerusalem, but that is where their similarities end. Liyana believes in peaceful coexistence of Jews and Arabs in Jerusalem but Mahmoud believes that war is the only way to rid Jerusalem of the Jews completely so that Jerusalem can belong only to the Arabs. While Liyana and Mahmoud are both products of the Arab-Israeli conflict in the Middle East, their other influences help form their generally very different world views. Liyanas childhood in the United States and interactions with Jewish friends and shopkeepers lead her to belief that peaceful coexistence of Jews and Arabs in Jerusalem is possible, and much needed. Having grown up in the Muslim quarter of Jerusalem all his life, Mahmoud is an authentic Arab, and is much more incensed than Liyana about the Jewish occupation of Jerusalem and believes that war is the only way to bring Jerusalem back to the Arabs, and to the Arabs only. Identity is not at all simple, and is in fact, very complicated. Although Liyana and Mahmoud are both Arabs in Jerusalem, their identities have been formed by very different experiences, families, communities, and societies.