the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

An Interview with Yusuf Khatibbi

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. 


  1. Annika

    Every mommy blogger on the internet is peeing with laughter right now.

  2. MammaLoves

    Oh my shiksa sisters better not be doling out blow jobs willy nilly. It’s not good for our image.

  3. bookraud

    yusuf, since i’m a blog crush, you’ve almost got me wanting to convert. my mom was going to write a book called, “jewish mom, ungrateful son,” but it’s been done.

    have a halal quarter pounder on me. you shouldn’t make me laugh like that in front of my shiksa wife.

  4. sassy

    Oh Yusuf ! Do you think Beyonce will be okay with wearing a chador?

    If you see Neil, can you please tell him that I totally gave him the You Make My Day award over at my wee l’il blog? Peace & en Shallah.

  5. fringes

    That may be Britney lurking in the shrubbery outside your apartment, Yusuf. She is also looking for freedom within dramatic change.

  6. mckay

    yusuf, mesuf, weallsuf.

    in other words, i feel your pain, depression, separation, apartment hunting, marriage, new life, angst. life’s hard. thank god for friends – virtual and real.

  7. psychotoddler

    Hmmm…you make a very compelling case

  8. suburbancorrespondent

    Oy, vey! And for this you were bar-mitzvahed?

  9. teahouseblossom


  10. Christine

    1. Unfortunately Supercuts costs more like $20 these days :O. 2. Didn’t Bill O’Reilly invent the falafel?

  11. better safe than sorry

    so you decided to interview yourself huh.
    good luck with “starting over”, but i don’t think this “interview” lets you off the hook. keep smiling, adventure lies ahead.

  12. ingrid

    so, you think that the burka adds a little mystery… interesting.

    i’ve often thought that burkas are similar to blogs. they give you an outline or shape but not necessarily the substance. that remains hidden until revealed 🙂 plus they add a little wondering.

  13. TRO

    Say hi to Cat Stevens, err, I mean Yusuf Islam, for me, will ya?

    Oh, and Neil, the blowjob thing does happen. But only if you get the right shiska.

  14. sassy

    Ooh… Neiliepoo, do my eyes decieve? Blogcrush? And I thought you were going to play hard to get – not a very good start !

    It’s ok, you’re like my blogcrush of the century. And I know, that’s not playing hard to get, so I’m probably not sexy at all. It’s a good thing at that that I’m already taken,eh?

  15. Rebecca

    Hi Neil,
    Just thought I would de-lurk and let you know that I was casually reading my New Yorker mag yesterday, when I came across your mother’s story. All of a sudden I thought “why does this name sound so familiar?” and realized that it was from your blog.
    Too funny, I loved it.
    You’re mom is old-school awesome.

  16. ingrid

  17. Annie

    Oh Neil, here I was already to convert for you, Now I won’t have to :-).

  18. Claudia

    “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.”

    Muahahaha. You’ve been stalking my backyard again, haven’t you? 😉

    GREAT post!!! You’re a gem.

  19. Theresa B.

    Neil, I wanna be your shiksa.

  20. Izzy

    I was all set to offer you one of my famous shiksa blowjobs but uh, it looks like you’ve got it covered 😉

    (Devil’s Log…love that)

  21. V-Grrrl

    Change is good says the woman who has been living in Europe for three years and is heading back to small town life in the American South and is worried the suburban mom mafia will throw a burka over her free-spirited self and gang bang her into submitting to PTA membership.

    Yeah, that was supposed to be encouraging.

    We’ll get through it, luv.

  22. brettdl

    I think you chose the wrong religion. You need a MORE DECADENT religion, not one that is even more uptight about sex and everything else.

  23. Miss Britt

    I think I might be a Jewish woman.

  24. Jack

    You do know that some people consider shiksa to be highly offensive.

    It is kind of a fine line to walk.

  25. TRO

    Well, if they consider shiska offensive I guess that means a blowjob is out of the question.

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