A while ago a friend of mine shared a piece of news on the Haaretz newspaper website; the piece in short sheds light on Netanyahu’s latest visit to the US and his ‘very positive’ meeting with the 44th and first African-American president of the United States ‘Barack Hussein’—or ‘Barack Obama’ as you might say.
To be honest, I am not so clued up with the daily news of Obama, nor am I so interested in Netanyahu’s visits to the United States. I am not, and it is more appropriate to say that I check Haaretz most often for nothing but that I have a passion for the English language, and I just love their usage of English.
However, this time the case was quite different and a bit amusing. Funny, indeed. The US president Obama thinks that the Israelis are skeptical about him and his strategies since his middle name is ‘Hussein’— this was the queer quintessence of this piece. It might be naïve to say this, but I always wondered why it is that the relationship between Israel and the United States is always so amiable and friendly; and, thanks to a university requirement, it was just a short while earlier I came to root out the real answer for that question which I will keep for myself to avoid straying off from my major point. (and possibly in addition to more important reasons) At any rate, this being the case, Obama should care about how the Israelis would feel about him, and that they are skeptical about him is not encouraging for the President, of course. Nonetheless, this is not what I am concerned with since I just illustrated, or rather hinted, it is normal and necessary that the two countries always be on good terms, and the relationships between them should always be kindly, welcoming, and amicable. The cause why I am writing this is how brilliant and sharp-witted the American president turned out to be. He (obviously having spent long nights trying to figure it out) has come to the ultimately remarkable and entertaining conclusion: The Israelis are skeptical about Mr. President because his middle name is ‘Hussein’.
There is something misleading about the statement—perhaps some of you, having already started to link it to the title of this article, have started to recognise what I am speaking of. In fact, I was first bamboozled into absorbing that, but as I recalled Mr. President’s name, I was immediately taken aback by the fact that there is always a name preceding the middle name which is called ‘first name’. There was Mr. President’s first name. Barack. I always thought Barack is not neither an Arabic nor a Muslim name, and it is not a Christian name. It is a Hebrew name. And here what I got when I googled the following words “Barack, name”:
The word “Barack” is shared among several languages. First, it is a word in the (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Semitic_languages) Semitic family of languages. As such it mistakenly has been thought to have the root in Hebrew written as baruch, but since the word Barak in Hebrew exists independently, pronounced as Barak with no twisting of sounds, it is the true word from which any meaning should be taken. A version in Aramaic (berek), a version in Arabic (baraka). (See Strong’s Hebrew Bible Dictionary, entries 1288-1294.) It also occurs as a loan word in non-Semitic languages that have been influenced by these Semitic languages, such as Kiswahili (the most widely spoken African language). As often happens, cognate words are similar in pronunciation. What appears in a later-appearing language may sound like something else in the earlier language. And in English we sometimes see words that are pronounced the same and even spelled the same, but that have very different meanings.
For further investigation, you can check out the following links:
Well, let’s us be clear about this: I am not casting doubt upon the President’s religion or his parentage because everybody knows he is of African origin, and I am not interested in tracing his lineage, for it is not we’re about here. So what is the point?
Fine. Now, let’s agree on this: the name ‘Barack’ with the way it is written and pronounced is more linked to a Hebrew background, although it is available in Arabic and other Semitic languages, yet with some modification on the word and letters. Now to examine the President’s name (not the President in person) we come to a conclusion that is moderately smarter than what the President has come to: The US President has a stunningly self-contradictory name which is comprised of a Hebrew-oriented first name and an Arab-oriented middle name.
The president, however, hasn’t noticed that. And he most likely did notice it, but he just doesn’t care.
The thing is that Arabs never complained about Mr. President’s first name, and they even never felt skeptical about him and his strategies towards the middle east!
I even tend to believe that the Israelis didn’t complain about his middle name—they are far more intelligent than that— but, unfortunately, Mr. President happened to flatter the Israelis by something for which they already have a better substitute.
For example, why should not Mr. President say that the Israelis are cool with me since my first name is ‘Barack’?—the answer is simply the Israelis are not cool neither with him nor with his strategies.
OK. Why, then, should not he say that the Arabs are skeptical about me because my first name is ‘Barack’?—the answer is simply he doesn’t care, let them be, so what?
Now, Mr. President came to flatter the Israelis by focusing on his middle name because it is perhaps the only thing he himself is skeptical about. I assume he is not pleased with it; I am no physiatrist, however.
Whether Hebrew, Arabic, Aramaic, or African and whatever might be the origins of Mr. President’s name: The Israelis, not the Arabs, are skeptical about him, which is not encouraging, but “why is that?” remains for the President to answer. And this time it seems he will have to put some more effort coming up with it.
Mohammed Rabah Suliman
July 14, 2010