Palestinian-American Teen: Watching Gaza from the U.S.

Huffington Post Posted: Updated:

Originally published on Youthradio.org, the premier source for youth generated news throughout the globe.

President Barack Obama’s interview with Al Arabiya this week signaled his interest in a new approach to the Middle East – one of conciliation with the Arab world, and a negotiated peace between Israelis and Palestinians. As a tenuous ceasefire continues in Gaza, many Jewish and Palestinian families in the US are holding their breath, watching to see what happens. The situation is also sparking debates inside those families. Palestinian American Samr “Rocky” Tayeh tells us about his struggle to find a personal and fair point of view.

By: Samr “Rocky” Tayeh

I was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. I am the youngest of eight siblings from a Palestinian Family. My mom’s family still lives in Jerusalem.

At home we have a special satellite dish which broadcasts news from overseas. When the fighting gets bad in Israel, my mom cries and yells every night. She screams for us to come downstairs and witness the tragedy on television. Violent images of dead bodies and people crying keep showing up on these news shows.

It started all over again when the war in Gaza started. However, I can’t force myself to see this situation from my mom’s passionate perspective. My sisters and my mom go to Jerusalem every summer. They love their homeland. I refuse to go. I don’t feel I am connected to a land I don’t know that much about. I also fear that I am putting my life in danger going to a war zone. My grandmother calls my mom sometimes and fills her in on the violence, which makes everyone sad. I try so hard to push away all these news reports and close my ears and eyes. What I try to do is understand this conflict from a fair point of view. I think the Israeli people have every right to guard and protect themselves from missile attacks and terrorist threats. And because of that, my sister screams that I have become “Americanized”.

It was my friendship with many Jewish people that changed my perspective about this conflict. Sometimes we even joke about how we are supposed to hate each other. My friend Sarina begs me not to “throw a rock” and I beg her not to bomb my neighborhood because I threw a rock. I also babysit for a Jewish family. I have grown to love this family like my own. They treat me with such respect and passion and they always tell me: “Make yourself at home”. I know some would call me a traitor for this, but I find it so beautiful that I help watch their children and house. Even my mom, who runs a daycare center with a lot of Jewish kids, has built very strong and loving relationships with their families.

But I also know she has probably gone through some hard times here in the US. I often find it extremely hard to say that my family is from Palestine. I fear I will be stereotyped. I used to wear a Middle Eastern scarf around my neck. After September 11, a lot people started looking at me like I had a bomb, and a couple of times I even got stopped by the police. It was a horrible feeling. I can only imagine how my sister feels, she always wears the scarf. From an early age I felt it wasn’t cool to look or act Middle Eastern. That’s why I like using my middle name Rocky.

When I look at all this madness in Gaza and Israel, I simply can’t understand why across the globe we can’t live together. Why at the holiest place on earth there is so much violence and death. I think we can live together under one government, not looking at people as Muslims or Jews.

Youth Radio/Youth Media International (YMI) is a youth-driven converged media production company that delivers the best youth news, culture and undiscovered talent to a cross section of audiences. To read more youth news from around the globe and explore high quality audio and video features, visit Youthradio.org

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/youth-radio-youth-media-international/palestinian-american-teen_b_161375.html

Palestinian-American Teen Reacts to Obama’s Cairo Speech

Huffington Post Posted: Updated:

Originally published on Youthradio.org, the premier source for youth generated news throughout the globe.

By: Samr “Rocky” Tayeh

On Thursday I went into the computer lab at my school to watch President Barack Obama’s hour-long speech to the Arab world. While everyone else was watching music videos and socializing on MySpace I was watching Obama, full screen on YouTube.

It was difficult for me to contain myself throughout the speech. I applauded, yelled, cheered and almost got kicked out for breaking the “silence” rule. I wasn’t listening as an American or a Muslim, even though I’m both, I was listening as a human being. But for some reason this Obama speech didn’t create a buzz in my college.

Usually anything Obama says creates some sort of excitement, but this one went unnoticed. It was me asking everyone, “Did you hear the Obama Speech?” and the common reply was “No, when was it?”

This morning I saw a front page article in a New York newspaper about Obama trying to unite Islam with America, and it showed a picture of a Sep-11 memorial and another of an American flag burning in some Islamic country. It pains me newspapers would contradict Obama’s speech with hateful stereotypes and propaganda.

The president wasn’t someone my friends or I were talking about a year ago. We didn’t feel included or a part of the political system. It seemed bigger than us. But with Barack Obama it’s different, it feels like he’s listening to our dinner conversations and actually knows what’s going on.

I’ve long dreamed of a world where we all can get along. Where the beauty of religions allows us all to understand and accept each other. President Obama makes me feel like there are other people out there who share my crazy dream of treating each other with compassion and tolerance.

Can we live peacefully together? It’s a question I hope people will ask themselves more and more, and it’s a question I think President Obama asked on Thursday.

My sister thinks the speech was just politics at work. I see it as a fresh start to a better world.

Youth Radio/Youth Media International (YMI) is youth-driven converged media production company that delivers the best youth news, culture and undiscovered talent to a cross section of audiences. To read more youth news from around the globe and explore high quality audio and video features, visit Youthradio.org

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/youth-radio-youth-media-international/palestinian-american-teen_b_212089.html