Guide for the Perplexed

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I have come to realize just how difficult it may be to decipher news about the Middle East, Islam, Israel, the Arab World, and all these powerful and explosive issues of our times for those who rely on such media stalwarts as The New York Times, The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, the major television networks, cable news, etc. for their information. For example, how is a person to ascertain whether the slayer of a family is a terrorist or a militant or a gunman or an assailant or an activist or a freedom-fighter?

So, purely as a public service, I have organized the following glossary of the most pertinent terms and expressions, as typically used in the above-mentioned news sources. I hope, insha’allah, the reader will find it helpful to unravel the Gordian Knot of language that is today’s (and yesterday’s and tomorrow’s) Middle East!

Dr. Yasser Dasmabebi holds the Edward Said-Noam Chomsky Linguistics Chair at Abdul Abulbul Amir University in Cairo.


Aggression: Killing people who are trying to kill you.

Al Qaeda: the terrorist group that, according to American security sources, embodies the world-wide Islamist movement, and that is either “significantly degraded” or is still “extremely dangerous,” depending on which government official is doing the talking.

Apartheid:  The political/social system of the one and only country in the Middle East that integrates Jews, Beduins, Arabs, whites, blacks, Muslems, Ethiopians, Russians, Christians, Greek Orthodox, Russian Orthodox, Bahai, et al.

“Apes & Pigs”: See “Jew” below.

Arab Emir: Military dictator.

Arab King: Military dictator.

Arab President: Military dictator.

Arab Prime Minister: Military dictator.

Arab Spring: Replacement of one dictatorship with another, with the help of Western money and media cheerleading.

Arab Street: Enraged mobs chanting and screaming their hatred, determined to annihilate Israel and the Jews. They can often be seen burning American and Israeli flags, passing out candies and firing guns into the air in response to successful murders of Westerners (closely related to):

Arab Humiliation: The pervasive feeling on the Arab street generated by their failure to annihilate Israel and the Jews in several wars. Many opinion-makers, Middle East experts and op-ed writers argue that Arab humiliation is at the root of the Middle East conflict; i.e., “If only the Jews would let themselves be destroyed, the Arab street would feel better about themselves, and then there would be peace.”

Ayatola: Persian dictator. Spiritual leader of that faith that desires to ignite nuclear holocaust in order to bring about the arrival of the Mahdi. (See “Mahdi” below.)

Bias: An expression of support for the existence of Israel.

Caliphate: The unification of lands ruled in the name of Islam, ruled by a Caliph. (See “Arab King,” “Arab President,” etc. above.)

Compromise: To give something palpable, such as land, in return for a promise not to keep on trying to annihilate you.

Developing Country: A country that is not developing.

Disproportionate Response: Winning.

Diversity: The condition in which all cultures are viewed as equally and inherently virtuous, except for the culture of the West, which is viewed as evil by virtue of imperialism, colonialism and endemic racism (see “Racist” below).

Emergency Laws: The law.

Father of the Palestinian People: An Egyptian man, raised by his uncle, Hitler’s buddy, and one of the world’s most successful kleptocrats. (See “PLO” below.)

Fatwa: A pronouncement of a mullah that sanctions murder, but only of disagreeable people, like inadequately covered women, Salman Rushdie, etc.

Female Genital Mutilation: That ritual of which Western feminist organizations seem, by virtue of their silence, to approve.

Hamas: The democratically elected government of Gaza whose founding charter calls for genocide.

Hezbollah: The democratic group whose purpose is saving Lebanon from Israeli aggression, and whose founding charter calls for genocide.

History: Having nothing whatsoever to do with what has actually happened, but rather being what has come to be called “narrative,” i.e., “storytelling.” For one example, allusions to the “Ancient Nation of Palestine;” and for another, almost all the Muslem accomplishments President Obama enumerated in his momentous Cairo speech (also see “Rewriting History” below).

Holocaust: That genocide that did not happen, but that the Jews orchestrated in order to steal Arab land, and that of which the Jewish presence in Palestine is worse than.

Honor Killings: The cultural imperative to murder one’s daughter/sister/niece for humiliating male members…(see “Shariah” below).

Human Rights: The credo by which murder committed by a person from a country which used to be called “Third World” (now considered racist terminology) is good (see “Resistance” below); retaliatory killing by a person who is either from a developed country, a white person or most especially a Jew, is bad (see “Agression” above).

Human Shields: Integral part of Hamas & Hezbollah military strategy.

Islamic Republic: Military dictatorship.

Israel: Occupied territory (see “Zionist Entity” below).

Israeli Prime Minister: Hawkish, right-winger, hard-liner.

Jerusalem: City holy to Islam in which the Jews have no history.

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  • potb

    Love it, thank you so much!

  • Yankel Doodle

    Self-defense = murdering Jewish children.

    Imperialism = preventing such murders.

  • Ron

    Finally, a little levity in an otherwise insane world of Islamic madness. I look forward to reading much more from "Dat's my baby." The Said-Chomsky reference might well be the highlight of the piece if it wasn't so sad. Bravo and thank for this fabulous "analysis" which perked me up even more than three cups of coffee.

  • StephenD

    Yankel Doodle

    Self-defense = murdering Jewish children.

    Imperialism = preventing such murders.

    I’d add to the list:

    Cloth Casket= Modest Dress/Free Choice
    Equality= All Dhimmis are equal
    Child Bride= Allah’s Will
    Value of women= worth more than Dhimmi but less than a man

    Plenty more. Lets go folks keep the list going!

  • Alex Kovnat

    How ironic that Dr. Dasmabebi's position is named after Noam Chomsky. N.C. is not among my favorite people.

    Having said that, Dr. Dasmabebi is right on!

  • tanstaafl

    Lies – truth

  • xlent

    Islam is the religion of peace, purpose, prosperity, and general joie de vivre….NOT!

  • Mr. Ez

    Well done. Here's another.
    Unprecedented prosperity, democratic and civil rights, freedom of speech, quality universal medical care, education and opportunity for Israeli Arabs is called Nakba.

  • Matt

    Palestinian History = Fiction

  • xlent

    Terrorist–anyone who follows the koran.

  • Leigh Harrison

    Yessir, "doc" I totally agree with you, and your brilliant satirical dictionary was sorely needed! Here's another one: Islamic peace treaty: taqiyya

  • Old11b

    Sometimes words definitions can be twisted around so much they actually mean what they mean.

  • Bubbe

    Yessir, dat's my baby. LOL Well done. Excellent glossary that needs to be spread about more.

  • http://@IranAware Jeff

    I have one you forgot..

    VICTORY = Surviving a Israeli attack or war, killing a Jew

  • RBR

    don't you think is a little disrespectful to use the Rambam's title for this?

  • Gary Rumain

    Left out muta and sharmuta.

  • Occam

    It's funny but I hope you realize it's made-up. There is no Abdul Abulbul Amir University in Cairo.