A Television Comedy about a Hip Young Muslim Breaks the Mold by Taking Religion Seriously

The new television program Ramy has the familiar theme of a twentysomething trying to make his way in the world. Yet although the title character is a Muslim, writes Gabe Friedman, observant Jews may find him surprisingly easy to relate to:

Ramy Hassan, the show’s protagonist, is . . . a religious Muslim who prays regularly, observes holidays somewhat strictly, and doesn’t drink alcohol. During Ramadan, he even surprises his family and friends with his religiosity when he digs his childhood thobe out of the closet. He does, however, have plenty of premarital sex, something he’s constantly conflicted about.

In addition to the groundbreaking portrayal of Muslims on screen, this is what makes the show stand out: its hip millennial character engages deeply with religion—not just the “spiritual” side, but also the day-to-day lifestyle and ritual choices—in a way that makes for a compelling combination rarely, if ever, seen on television.

In [contemporary] TV shows featuring obviously Jewish characters—such as Transparent, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, or Broad City—the protagonists telegraph their Jewishness through comedy and constant cultural references. Only sometimes will the Jewish characters dip their feet into Judaism [as a religion]. In the case of Mrs. Maisel, the characters are almost all Jews, but Judaism rarely intrudes in a meaningful way. These characters never engage very deeply with any tenets of Jewish practice, worship or thought, especially the ritual strictures—such as keeping kosher and observing Shabbat—that define the daily religious aspect of Jewish observance. . . .

Ramy’s life, on the other hand, is very directly affected by his religious choices. . . .

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Read more at Times of Israel

More about: American Muslims, Islam, Judaism, Religion, Television

Why the Leader of Hamas Went to Russia

Sept. 30 2022

Earlier this month, the Hamas chairman Ismail Haniyeh and several of his colleagues visited Moscow, where they met with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and other Russian officials. According to Arabic-language media, Haniyeh came seeking “new ideas” about how to wage war against the Jewish state. The terrorist group has had good relations with the Kremlin for several years, and even maintains an office in Moscow. John Hardie and Ivana Stradner comment on the timing of the visit:

For Moscow, the visit likely reflects a continuation of its efforts to leverage the Palestinians and other issues to pressure Israel over its stance on Russia’s war in Ukraine. Russia and Israel built friendly relations in the decades following the Soviet Union’s dissolution. After Russia invaded Ukraine in February, Jerusalem condemned the war, but made sure to tread carefully in order to preserve working ties with Moscow, lest Russian military forces in Syria disrupt Israel’s strategically important air operations there.

Nevertheless, bilateral tensions spiked in April after Yair Lapid, then serving as Israel’s foreign minister, joined the chorus of voices worldwide accusing Russia of committing war crimes in Ukraine. Jerusalem later provided Kyiv with some non-lethal military aid and a field hospital. In response, Moscow hardened its rhetoric about Israeli actions in the Palestinian territories.

The Palestinian issue isn’t the only way that Russia has sought to pressure Israel. Moscow is also threatening, on seemingly spurious grounds, to shutter the Russian branch of the Jewish Agency.

Moscow likely has little appetite for outright conflict with Israel, particularly when the bulk of Russia’s military is floundering in Ukraine. But there are plenty of other ways that Russia, which maintains an active intelligence presence in the Jewish state, could damage Israel’s interests. As Moscow cozies up with Hamas, Iran, and other enemies of Israel, Jerusalem—and its American allies—would do well to keep a watchful eye.

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Read more at Algemeiner

More about: Hamas, Israeli Security, Russia