Upon recent discussions, a lot of my fellow American friends have been talking about how Lebanon and Israel have the hummus in common, and how music festivals could be a way of creating a bond between these two countries.
Considering the fact that Lebanon and Israel are at a state of a “paused war”, we got engaged in a conversation explaining why music and food are not important in our condition. The fact that Israel terrorizes our people, kills our children, and makes us leave our homes, is a much bigger matter than sharing a plate.
A lot of people get surprised by the level of hostility Lebanese people have towards Israel, and yet that is understood because you can’t feel the pain unless you are in the hurt’s shoes. Yet all these discussions, for some reason, kept bringing the same matter into my mind; Cuban cigars.
Cuban cigars are forbidden in the United States. In fact, there is a prohibition on the importing of most Cuban products, and that is due to an embargo that has been imposed since 1960. Now even though a lot of Americans consider that there are other kinds of cigars which are better, yet it remains the forbidden fruit, and for that, it is much desired. American tourists abroad are also not allowed to smoke this kind of cigar and are faced with fines and penalties that can sum up from 50,000$ to 250,000$. Corporations might also be fined with a penalty as high as one million dollars if were trading such a product.
When I learned all these restrictions, I was eager to dig deep into why this matter is this complicated. I realized that the embargo was imposed after Cuba nationalized the properties of American citizens. The ban was also imposed after Fidel Castro allowed “the Soviets to construct missile bases on the island capable of striking the United States.” The embargo process moved from prohibiting certain products and businesses to a total prohibition by 1999.
Here I must say, the conflict between Cuba and the United States is something I am not much familiar with, and I surely would not ask an American to be forgiving to a Cuban because I have not felt the conflict since I am not an American. And yet, I believe that Cuba did not oppress, offend, kill, terrorize, or even hurt Americans the way Israel did to Arabs and Lebanese specifically.
Even though Cuban cigar prohibition is an American law, I can still relate it to our laws that prevent us from visiting Israel (not that we would want to), and our laws that prohibit any sort of trade or business or communication with the Israeli State. Israel has killed our people and stolen our homes. It’s not a matter of smoking a forbidden cigar because Cuba once decided to take a political stand against my country; it’s a matter of dignity and respect.
It’s an entire land, homes, children, women, schools, mosques, churches and much more. It’s a matter of humanity. Food and music can never be compared to humanity. When Israel has terrorized every single bit of Palestine and some of the Arab world, then don’t expect for an Arab to want to share a plate of hummus with an Israeli, even though an American doesn’t mind smoking a Cuban cigar despite the banning law.
Americans made entire laws and policies to fight Fidel Castro because he is a dictator who does not respect human rights, yet they are much supportive of Israel who is not even familiar with the term “humanity”.