Last Friday night my husband and I did what any good Jews would do after they put their kids to bed – we watched a movie. A movie about a Muslim and a Jew. Or more accurately, a movie about a Muslim-Jew or Jew-Muslim, depending on how you look at it.
We watched The Infidel, a movie written by David Baddiel, starring Omid Djalili and Richard Schiff. First of all, I have to say this…it was very funny. Inside joke kind of funny. The actors were great which is not surprising and the writing spot-on.
An important aside, this post is one big spoiler so if you want to watch the movie without knowing what happens stop reading now! If you want to stop reading and perhaps see the movie (which I recommend), check out the trailer…
Let’s see….what do I have in common with Mahmud?
:: Finds out about adoption ‘scandal’ as an adult? Check
:: Raised in a conflicting faith? Check
:: Presence of unsuspecting spouse? Check
:: Execute several a cultural faux-pas? Check
Mahmud is a hilarious character and one I completely identify with. Hilarity aside, the part that spoke to me most was the scene when he felt all was lost and he was alone. His family left him and his friends didn’t know what to do with him. The movie comes at this story from the Muslim perspective. It makes fun of the Jews – brilliantly if I may add but the core community is Muslim. For me, well, you know that’s where I differ from Mahmud.
My core community is not even really Jewish, it’s American. And truth be told, I don’t have any close Muslim friends. In one fell swoop, I went from almost complete ignorance of Islam AND Pakistan to loving them both. Here’s the key that isn’t really addressed in The Infidel. Mahmud no longer can say “you and not me” to a Jew. He can no longer claim the luxury of “other.”
Before I found my family, Islam was a religion that was based in a different part of the world and all I really knew about Pakistan was that it was a pain in America’s ass. (Sorry everyone, but it kind of was and still is.) Now, some of the people I love most in the world and would do anything for are both Muslim and Pakistani. “Other” they are not. They are now a part of me. I am part Pakistani and each day long to learn more about this heritage a bit more than the day prior.
I still claim that Pakistan, at the government level, I think – still need to learn a ton – is a bit of a pain in the ass. E.g., not going to the Afghan conference? Really, Pakistan? Come on! But, a government isn’t a culture or a people. I’m beginning to love what I am learning about these amazing people and this amazing culture. So perhaps that is also a good lesson not overtly offered in the movie. Aside from the universal hilarity of the bar mitzvah.
Maybe, “other” isn’t a luxury after all.
Signing off —
Jewy McJew Jew Jew
(Really one of the BEST lines EVER!!!!!!)