American Al-Qaida Speaks of Jewish Grandpa
In baroque Arabic
American-born Al-Qaida operative Adam Gadahn acknowledged his Jewish roots in a video released over the weekend. It’s an awkward fact about Gadahn, born Adam Pearlman, that was already known to people following the Muslim convert’s strange career. Raffi Khatchadourian reported on Gadahn for The New Yorker in 2007 and noted the convert’s strikingly anachronistic use of Arabic language in his video messages: “sometimes his syntax is so baroque, his sentiment so earnest, that he sounds like a character from the Lord of the Rings.” That’s still true in his latest YouTube release—the Obama administration, in Gadahn’s words, is “led by a clique of Zionist Jews and Zionized Christians who respect in a believer neither kinship nor covenant”—and it’s especially interesting when he addresses his own heritage. “My grandfather was a Zionist, and a zealous supporter of the usurper entity” who would have influenced Gadahn’s views had it not been for “Allah’s kindness to me and His taking care of me,” he says. Jews, after all, are “usually bereft of fairness and human emotions.” What’s astonishing here is not so much the violence with which Gadahn rejects his roots, Jewishness included—see, as a fictional predecessor, Swede Levov’s terrorist daughter in Philip Roth’s American Pastoral—but the unsophisticated language he uses to separate himself from them. Gadahn, like Merry Levov, was (according to the New Yorker profile) a very bright child, which would suggest that he is today a very bright, and very angry, adult. It’s a testament to the blunt force of Al-Qaida’s ideology that they’ve got him talking about his rejected Jewishness like an anti-Semitic demagogue—or a peasant.
Daily rate: $2
Monthly rate: $18
Yearly rate: $180
WAIT, WHY DO I HAVE TO PAY TO COMMENT?
Tablet is committed to bringing you the best, smartest, most enlightening and entertaining reporting and writing on Jewish life, all free of charge. We take pride in our community of readers, and are thrilled that you choose to engage with us in a way that is both thoughtful and thought-provoking. But the Internet, for all of its wonders, poses challenges to civilized and constructive discussion, allowing vocal—and, often, anonymous—minorities to drag it down with invective (and worse). Starting today, then, we are asking people who'd like to post comments on the site to pay a nominal fee—less a paywall than a gesture of your own commitment to the cause of great conversation. All proceeds go to helping us bring you the ambitious journalism that brought you here in the first place.
I NEED TO BE HEARD! BUT I DONT WANT TO PAY.
Readers can still interact with us free of charge via Facebook, Twitter, and our other social media channels, or write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Each week, we’ll select the best letters and publish them in a new letters to the editor feature on the Scroll.
We hope this new largely symbolic measure will help us create a more pleasant and cultivated environment for all of our readers, and, as always, we thank you deeply for your support.