The 3-day war we just experienced in Israel made us forget that the month of August was not intended by God for serious news, which is why it is known as the Cucumber Season. So, what’s a better way to get you back on track for cukes and nothing but cukes until Rosh Hashanah than a silly article in Al Bawaba (Arabic for The Gate, meaning portal), a news, blogging, and media website established in 2000 and headquartered in Amman, Jordan with an office in Dubai. Al Bawaba bills itself as “the largest independent producer and distributor of content in the Middle East with a full-time staff of journalists and editors covering the Middle East and North Africa’s events and news.”
On Sunday, Al Bawaba published a list of “International Celebrities with Arab Roots, Number 8 is a Shock!” Now, I know you and I could point out many more Arab international stars than the nine that writer Alexandra Abumuhor came up with. I mean, sure, there are many more international Jewish celebrities, but to fail to list Omar Sharif, Neil Sedaka, Danny Thomas (a.k.a. Amos Muzyad Yaqoob Kairouz), Jamie Farr?
Abumuhor was so strapped for names on her list that she enlisted one of the most Jewish-identified TV celebrities Jerry Seinfeld and reported: Jerry Seinfeld’s mother Née Hosni (Betty) was Syrian. His mother, Betty, and her parents, Selim and Salha Hosni, were Jews from Aleppo, Syria. Their nationality was stated as Turkish when they immigrated in 1917, as Syria was under the Ottoman Empire. We looked it up in Wiki and discovered she lifted the entire paragraph without attribution (the tidbit first appeared in the NY Times).
But if she’s listing half-Syrian Jews as “International Celebrities with Arab Roots,” why skip Paula Abdul? She was born in San Fernando, California, to her father, Harry Abdul, who was also born in Aleppo, Syria, just like Betty Seinfeld. Like Seinfeld, Abdul is proud of her parents’ Jewish roots, perfect for Abumuhor’s list of famous Arabs.
Abumuhor is the last person on earth who didn’t know that the late Steve Jobs was of Syrian descent, and he is the shocking no. 8 on her list. According to the Daily Telegraph, Steven Paul Jobs was born in San Francisco, California, on February 24, 1955, to Joanne Carole Schieble and Abdulfattah Jandali) His cousin, Bassma Al Jandaly, said that his birth name was Abdul Lateef Jandali. He was adopted by Clara (née Hagopian) and Paul Reinhold Jobs.
Remember Wentworth Miller from the series Prison Break, one of those that should have ended after one season but went 5 years instead? According to Abumuhor what qualifies Miller as an Arab is that “his father is of African-American, English, German, Jewish and Cherokee descent, and his mother is of Russian, French, Dutch, Syrian and Lebanese ancestry.”
Confusing? You bet. We went to Wiki to set the record straight without great success. Here’s why: citing the New Yorker and other sources, Wiki claims Miller said in 2003 that his father is black and his mother is white. So the press folks checked and found out his father is of African-American, Jamaican, German, and English ancestry; his mother is of Rusyn (an East Slavic ethnic group from the Eastern Carpathians in Central Europe), Swedish, French, Dutch, Syrian, and Lebanese ancestry.
If this article finds you on the beach with your iPad (the brainchild of Steve Jobs), it’s perfect. Especially since the jellyfish have left Israel’s shores, this being the day after the fast of Tisha B’Av.