An Interview with Yusuf Khatibbi
(reprinted from Britain’s Pandora Magazine)
Reporter: Yusuf, we’re sitting here in your apartment in Amman, Jordan. You’re looking very content and at peace with yourself, but your former life was actually quite different, wasn’t it?
Yusuf: Yes, very much so.
Reporter: You were actually born as Neil “Neilochka” Kramer in Flushing, New York to Jewish parents. What happened to you that spurred this dramatic change to your life?
Yusuf: First of all, moving to Los Angeles was a low point. Los Angeles is a den of iniquity. I lived in an area called Redondo Beach, where young women would shamelessly walk around displaying their nubile bodies, causing me to constantly have immoral thoughts, which I would write about in my weblog, or “Devil’s Log,” as I now call it.
Reporter: But surely, converting to Islam and moving to Jordan was an extreme step for a so-called “nice Jewish boy from Queens.”
Yusuf: First of all, Amman and Los Angeles are not that different, so it was an easy transition. They have the same stores. Starbucks, Jiffy Lube, and Bed, Bath, and Beyond on every block.
Reporter: But what made you reject your Jewish heritage?
Yusuf: Reject it? It rejected me! Everything bad in my life was connected to being Jewish. I was always worrying and kvetching about everything, and who’s to blame? My Jewish mother! Even her “Jewish food,” like her pot roast, was so laden with fat, that I ended up having to take cholesterol pills.
Reporter: Weren’t you also married to a Jewish woman?
Yusuf: A Jewish woman… who made me sleep in the car. A shiksa would never do that. I read the blogs of these shiksas. They’re always catering to their men, serving them healthy meals, doing the laundry, and giving their men oral sex whenever they asked for it. Jewish women are so materialistic. Every time I offered to take my wife out for dinner, all she ever said was, “Can’t we go to a real restaurant… without the 2-1 coupon?!” Non-Jewish women enjoy bargains, especially Muslim women. They’re used to bartering at the Arab market. And what about all the nutty Jews in Hollywood? On Rosh Hashanah, there was this Jewish CAA agent sitting right behind me in temple, and he wouldn’t shut up about his lunch with Nicole Kidman! Name-dropper! You just don’t see that craziness going on at a mosque.
Reporter: But surely your mother must be upset at your rejection of your Jewish religion?
Yusuf: Eh. Maybe years ago. Now, everything is publicity for her. She’s currently trying to get the New Yorker magazine to write another article about her titled — Jewish Mom, Islamic Son. That’s all Jews care about. PR!
Reporter: And how do you now stand politically? How do you feel about Israel and it’s relations with the Arab world?
Yusuf: Phooey! Israelis are pains in the asses! Back in LA, my Israeli hair stylist, Aharon, would charge fifty bucks for a cut, extra for a shampoo, when I could have gotten the same thing done at Supercuts for ten. And then, in Encino, the Israelis are always touting their falafel, as if it was THEY who invented it. We’re the ones who created falafel — the Muslims, not them! They’re a bunch of egomaniacs.
Reporter: Yusuf, this is fascinating. So many insights from a man who has crossed over from one culture to another. Clearly you have finally “found” yourself by leaving behind your home, your family, and your religion — and embracing Islam and moving to Jordan.
Yusuf: Absolutely. I just hope one day to see what my new girlfriend looks like when she takes off her burka.