Image 1 of 20: Same same but different: They share a 'similar' God - Allah and Yahweh are but different names for this God. You know what Shakespeare would have said, “You can call a God by any other name, He would be just as mighty.” Whereas Muslims are careful to avoid blasé use of the Prophet’s name, many conservative Jews won’t speak the name of G-d.
Image 1 of 20: They disagree on the King of the Jews: Christians believe Jesus is a divine incarnation. Both Jews and Muslims think this blasphemous and regard him as a Prophet much like the next. If shared tastes in music can draw people close, then a shared belief that a messenger is not God’s son or God himself or part of a Trinity must be the love drug.
Image 1 of 20: They don’t dig the swine: Even if a pig took a long shower, dressed up in a Barney’s three-piece suit, wore a stylish top hat and cracked really funny jokes at a party, Jews and Arab Muslims alike would not consider the pig fit for society (or the dinner table). There is not enough lipstick on the planet to make any boar look good to these two.
Image 1 of 20: Generosity thy name is Semite! Both donate money to charity (stereotypes that claim otherwise be dashed!) Both devout Jews and Arabs commonly give a portion of their earnings to charity. Donations can be made by cash, checks or even credit cards. It is not clear if bitcoins are accepted. Not so gulfs apart, eh?
Image 1 of 20: Pilgrim pals: Jews are expected to make a pilgrimage three times a year (hag) to Jerusalem. Muslims are expected to make the pilgrimage (Hajj) at least once in their lifetime. Similar names - coincidence? These ‘cousins’ also have Qibla in common (direction for prayer): Muslim supplicants face Mecca and Jewish supplicants angle for Jerusalem.
Image 1 of 20: Niggling neuroses: You can chalk it up to a shared history of victimization, but Arabs and Jews are neurotic. Woody Allen wasn’t an exception - he was the rule. This cocktail of neuroses mixed with a love of hypochondria and enough over-the-counter pharmaceutical supplies to vaccinate the IDF, is just part of what makes them kindred spirits.
Image 1 of 20: Post-Partum Blues: After giving birth, a Jewish woman becomes niddah --i.e. she can’t be intimate with her husband --for 33 days (for a boy) and 66 days (a girl). In the Arab world, the woman becomes nifas for 40 days. Sadly, in some cases, parents have reported this “non-intimate” period stretching into many years after having children!
Image 1 of 20: Animal sacrifice: The family that kills together, stays together. The Jewish sacrifice (shechitah) and the Muslim one (dhabiha) involve cutting across the neck of the animal with a non-serrated blade in one clean stroke. The methods have different names, but the lamb ends up just as dead.
Image 1 of 20: Jews and Arabs are both willing to give it all up for a good hummus dip: There is now even an annual hummus stand-off in a friendly competition to see who can make the best or biggest chickpea dip, between Israel and the Arab world. If only these cousins could kiss and make-up in the name of (chick) peas...
Image 1 of 20: Shared guilt? Jews repent their sins during Yom Kippur. Muslims atone for theirs on the day long station at Arafat during the Hajj. Both display incredible fasting prowess: Jews fast for 24 hours on Yom Kippur, Muslims do during sunlight hours for Ramadan. One hopes they atone for not letting peace take root and blossom in the Middle East.
Image 1 of 20: The Aramaic lingo link: Ya Allah (Arabic, Oh God, Good grief!) or Oy Vey ( Yiddish, Woe is me!) --These phrases have become regional buzzwords -- whichever side of the wall you stand on. Arabic & Hebrew have striking resemblances in grammar and words -- including the shared word for blood (dam). Jews and Arabs share the same blood after all!
Image 1 of 20: Extreme stereotypes: The outside world, in its ignorance of what real Jews or real Arabs are really like, tend to think in scales of extremity. For example, Jewish can equate to “good with money” while Arab can equate to “good with explosives”, neither of which are true. Not everyone is a banker or a suicide bomber, okay?
Image 1 of 20: Exoneration blame-game: There’s always someone else to blame for anything and everything. Everything happens because of the Jews’ past persecution...or on the flip side, all ills in the world are because of Israel. Despite this, both peoples have a lot of pride and there’ll be no naysaying about their culture, thank you very much.
Image 1 of 20: Some mothers do ‘ave em: While Dad might rule the patriarchal roost, Mom’s word is the law of the land. Their number one goal is to marry you off to a good family...and ensure you and your friends always have full bellies. Food-centric mummies are at the epicentre of any traditional Semitic family.
Image 1 of 20: Dancing at Weddings: What do you get if you pump out some classic Oriental beats and put a long line of men together at a wedding? In the Arab world, it’s dabke and in the Jewish world you get the not-too-different Hasidic leg kick. The movie world loves these circle dances, but it’s an accurate reflection of a good Arab/ Jewish knees-up!
Image 1 of 20: Jewish and Arab hospitality: There is a proverb that Arabs use: Eat at a Jewish house; sleep at a Christian one. That way, you can rest assured that there’s going to be a lot of food at the dinner table -- and it will be pork-free nosh. Christians frequenting either house can browse their smartphones for statistics on death by overeating.
Image 1 of 20: Circumcision compromise: These guys don’t squabble over the fabulous foreskin! Jews and Arabs keep it kosher and halal respectively when they keep their men’s private parts streamlined and snipped. That’s some bond to ease away the frictions.
Image 1 of 20: No interest in interest: Usury is forbidden in both religions. In Judaism, they are free to go outside the faith with it though -- interest is only forbidden against Jews apparently.
Image 1 of 20: Kosher buns in the oven: Israelis have long grappled with the “horrors” of Palestinian procreation, but the cheeky Orthodox Jews are no better. Ultra-conservatives seem to have a penchant for 10 plus kids - not so different from the Arab-standard, as some Palestinian mothers seem to be popping out babies as part of their national struggle.
Image 1 of 20: Salafi Style: Both conservative faithful strive for segregation. Ultra-orthodox Jews ask their women to cover their hair as do their counterpart Muslims. The Uber orthodox even campaigned for segregated buses. Gender segregation is rife outside of Saudi -- leaving the Jewish state with more in common with their Arab neighbors after all.
They might not see it on a daily basis, but Jews and Arabs share a lot more than they squabble over (at least what they come to blows over, given the ongoing struggle and cultural fall-out between Arabs and Israelis).
Fierce foes or fragile friends -- they seem to be stuck with each other and should try celebrating their common traits, laid out by this tongue and cheek (simplistic and redutionist) review of the striking resemblances borne by kissing cousins, the Arabs and the Jews.
Neither Semite (Arab nor Jew) holds a monopoly over anti-semiticism -- it’s a shared and common condition. If only they knew, then never the twain should fight again!
Splitting (frizzy) hairs
Tomato, tomato -- there are more common elements to these 'races' and incongrous as that may seem given their infamous and publicly played out clashes in the Middle East, it may be worth reminding them to embrace the commonalities and cleave together over the shared visions rather than shunning one another over the irreconcilable issues and rifts.
If there is any people to understand the victimisation that the Jewish population went through in the 20th century, it’s the Arabs in the post 9/11 era. Contrary to popular belief and how Nazi Germany commandeered the term in the 20th Century, Anti-Semitism is not something that solely relates to Jews - it actually targets all Semitic people - including Arabs.
Seeing eye to eye
But contrary to common portrayal, Muslim Arabs and Jews are not that different from each other. In fact, at a closer glimpse, they are uncannily similar. They are not quite as contrasting as chocolate and vanilla ice cream, or for that matter, even as different as Americans are from Canadians. Like kissing cousins, Arabs and Jews have more in common than meets the eye.
In fact, Arabs and Jews have a shared history that goes way, way back.
In the eighth century biography of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) by Ibn Ishaq, the poet writes about the Prophet being carried by the angel Gabriel to Jerusalem. After reaching Jerusalem, Mohammed meets Abraham, Jesus and Moses, who welcome him and invite him to preach to them. How’s that for a shared history?
In addition, doesn’t the Holy Qur’an say: “…and that which has been vouchsafed by their Sustainer unto Moses, Jesus and the other prophets: we make no distinction between any of them.”?
In this gallery of 'same same but different', we will take you through the reasons why Arabs and Jews could very well be described as kissing cousins. In Arabic at least, Jews often get referred to, fondly or bitterly, as ‘the cousins’, harking back to the Abraham link. Sometimes, like close relatives, they have embraced and kissed each other fondly. Other times, like close relatives, they have built illegal settlements on other’s properties.