Jewish And Arab And Racially Profiled

Jewish And Arab And Racially Profiled

My last post about 9/11 had nothing to do with intermarriage, but this one has everything to do with it.

Shoshana Hebshi, an Ohio blogger/writer/journalist who is both Arab and Jewish (Saudi atheist dad, American Jewish mom) is definitely getting her 15 minutes of fame.

Detained in the Detroit Metro airport on the 10-year-anniversary of 9/11 — the victim of what Atlantic blogger Jeffrey Goldberg describes as “in-air paranoia” — she has detailed the experience in a blog post that is getting picked up in media outlets around the country, no doubt because she is such an articulate (and attractive) example of racial profiling.

Last I checked on Google News, she appeared in a whopping 472 news articles, including the Christian Science Monitor, Washington Post and Detroit Free Press. Meanwhile, her blog post “Some real Shock and Awe: Racially profiled and cuffed in Detroit,” has generated 1,733 comments, most of them sympathetic.

Hebshi, who also goes by Hebshi-Holt, is a married mother of 6-year-old twin boys (who fortunately didn’t witness Sunday’s drama). She was released almost four hours after being escorted off her plane in handcuffs, strip searched and interrogated by the FBI.

She apparently raised suspicions because of her Middle Eastern looks and because she was sitting in between two Indian men who got up frequently to go to the bathroom. The Indian men were detained (and, like her, released) as well.

I’m hoping to get an interview with her later this week. In the meantime, I’ve dug up some essays she wrote a few years ago for and the J, the San Francisco Jewish paper where she used to work.

Now in her mid 30s, Hebshi was raised Jewish, attending a day school in San Diego; her parents divorced when she was 5, in an apparently not very amicable fashion, and her dad walked out during her bat mitzvah “after the rabbi made what he perceived as an anti-Arab comment.”

Although for most of her youth she identified primarily as Jewish, as an adult she has embraced both aspects of her heritage, writing about visiting Israel, 9/11 (before the detention experience) and the “schizophrenia” of her mixed identity given that, throughout the world, Jewish-Arab relations are not exactly warm and fuzzy. (For more stories about people who are both Arab and Jewish, check out this article on the 972 online magazine, as well as my post earlier this year about actor Juliano Mer-Khamis, a Palestinian and Jewish man gunned down by Islamic fundamentalists.) And no folks, I haven’t been able to find out if Hebshi’s husband is Jewish or if they’re raising the kids Jewish.

What/if any questions would you ask Shoshana Hebshi if you could interview her?

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