Shebab in Arabic means "young people." When I was a student at Birzeit University in Palestine many moons ago, we used it all the time. Like, a bunch of young people are lingering somewhere when someone thinks we should be moving on to the next activity. "Yalla, ya shebab, let's go." Alter kocker in Yiddish means "old man," in a colorful way. My father used it to refer to his older relatives.
According to Middle East Eye, in Michigan, the shebab are meeting up with the alter kocker:
DEARBORN, United States - When Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders came to Dearborn, a city with one of the largest concentration of Arabs outside the Middle East, he mostly reiterated his message about economic inequality, stressing the need for reform on Wall Street.
Although the senator from Vermont did not focus on issues specific to Middle Eastern Americans, it did not stop the hundreds of young Arabs in attendance from cheering enthusiastically for his statements. Sanders' message is registering well with Arab Americans, especially those under 30.
Dearborn, a Detroit suburb of 100,000, is known as the capital of Arab America for its large Middle Eastern community.
MEE talked to some of these young Arab Americans:
Amer Zahr, a Palestinian-American activist and comedian, said he is excited about Sanders' campaign because the senator speaks about racial justice issues more honestly than other candidates.
Zahr said the Arab-American community, including small business owners and college students, would benefit from Sanders' economic plans. "Arab Americans are mostly people who are in the middle class, who can use the kind of solutions that Bernie is proposing," Zahr said.
"Bernie says on his website that he would treat Palestinians and Israelis equally; Hillary (Clinton) would never say something like that," Zahr said.
Ilfat Maatouk, a 25-year-old engineer, said Sanders gives her hope that change is possible at the national level. "He's a refreshing candidate, and he comes at a time when most young people have lost faith in our own political system," she said. "His integrity, his passion and energy revive our political interest. He is able to gather crowds of tens of thousands of people who are fed up with the hypocrisy and empty promises of Washington."
Mahdi Shoukr, a Henry Ford College student, said he supports Sanders for his education platform. Asked if he thinks the candidate can deliver on his plans to eliminate tuition, Shoukr said: "I hope so, for my debt's sake."
Wouldn't it be world-historical if Bernie Sanders won the Michigan primary and the Arab American vote played a crucial role? Imagine the headlines that would generate. Maybe some people would say: look what the shebab and the alter kocker accomplished together when they joined hands. What else could they do together?