By Lea Aoun

The Arab-American community lost an incredibly influential individual on July 9, 2017. Jack Shaheen, a renowned scholar born to Lebanese immigrants, passed away in South Carolina at the age of 81.

Shaheen dedicated his life to battling anti-Arab stereotypes, challenging negative depictions of Arabs as villains in the media. He spoke at countless events and colleges to share his research and published books such as “Reel Bad Arabs: How Hollywood Vilifies a People” and “The TV Arab”. According to an interview with AramcoWorld in 2016, Shaheen stated that he decided to follow this line of work when his children once told him there were “bad Arabs” on TV. He realized then that his children had yet to see a humane Arab on any cartoon.

In addition to his success in publications and research, Shaheen received two Fulbright teaching awards following his PhD from the University of Missouri. He taught at universities including New York University, and worked extensively in the media industry. Further, another one of his accomplishments was that of Aladdin’s Arabian Nights song lyrics. The original lyrics were insensitive, referenced violence, and referred to Aladdin’s Arab home as “barbaric”. After protests by Shaheen and others, the lyrics were changed and made more appropriate.

Shaheen not only contributed to the community by exposing and combatting these stereotypes, but he also created scholarships for Arab-American college students to study media.

Jack Shaheen is and will always be known as a figure of authority on negative Arab stereotypes in the media. Because of Shaheen’s work, a foundation has been created concerning studies in this area. Several conversations have also ignited regarding ways to combat antisemitism in the media. Shaheen is survived by his wife of 51 years, Bernice; their children, Michele and Michael; and grandchildren.

‬بقلم‭ ‬لي‭ ‬عون

خسرت‭ ‬الحالية‭ ‬العربية‭ ‬الأمريكية‭ ‬رمزا‭ ‬مهما‭ ‬ومؤثراً‭ ‬في‭ ‬التاسع‭ ‬من‭ ‬يوليو‭ ‬‮٢٠١٧‬‭. ‬جاك‭ ‬شاهين‭ ‬هو‭ ‬عالم‭ ‬من‭ ‬اصل‭ ‬لبناني‭ ‬وقد‭ ‬فارق‭ ‬الحياة‭ ‬عن‭ ‬عمر‭ ‬يناهز‭ ‬الـ‭ ‬‮٨١‬‭ ‬في‭ ‬جنوب‭ ‬ولاية‭ ‬كاليفورنيا‭.‬

قضى‭ ‬جاك‭ ‬شاهين‭ ‬عمره‭ ‬يناهض‭ ‬الصورة‭ ‬النمطية‭ ‬للعرب‭ ‬الأمريكيين‭. ‬وقد‭ ‬تحدى‭ ‬في‭ ‬نشاطه‭ ‬اعمال‭ ‬نشر‭ ‬واعلامية‭ ‬صورة‭ ‬العربي‭ ‬كشيطان‭ ‬مثل‭ ‬البرنامج‭ ‬التلفزيوني‭ ‬‮«‬عرب‭ ‬سيئين‭ ‬جداً‭ ‬‮«‬تلفزيون‭ ‬العرب‮»‬‭. ‬وتحدث‭ ‬في‭ ‬نشاطات‭ ‬عديدة‭ ‬ومنها‭ ‬الجامعات‭ ‬والكليات‭ ‬للمشاركة‭ ‬ببحوثه‭. ‬وقد‭ ‬بدأ‭ ‬جاك‭ ‬شاهين‭ ‬عمله‭ ‬في‭ ‬هذا‭ ‬المجال‭ ‬بعدما‭ ‬ذكر‭ ‬له‭ ‬اولاده‭ ‬بأن‭ ‬هناك‭ ‬عرب‭ ‬سيئين‭ ‬على‭ ‬التلفاز‭ ‬كما‭ ‬ذكر‭ ‬خلال‭ ‬لقاء‭ ‬له‭ ‬مع‭ ‬برنامج‭ ‬امريكان‭ ‬كوولرلد‭ ‬عام‭ ‬‮٢٠١٦‬‭. ‬واكتشف‭ ‬بأن‭ ‬اولاده‭ ‬لم‭ ‬يروا‭ ‬برنامج‭ ‬كرتونى‭ ‬على‭ ‬التلفاز‭ ‬يصور‭ ‬العرب‭ ‬على‭ ‬انهم‭ ‬انسانييون‭. ‬

وبالإضافة‭ ‬الى‭ ‬نجاحه‭ ‬في‭ ‬النشر‭ ‬والبحث‭ ‬حصل‭ ‬جاك‭ ‬شاهين‭ ‬على‭ ‬منحتين‭ ‬تدريسيتين‭ ‬بعد‭ ‬الحصول‭ ‬على‭ ‬الدكتواه‭ ‬من‭ ‬جامعة‭ ‬ميزوري‭. ‬ودرس‭ ‬في‭ ‬جامعات‭ ‬مثل‭ ‬جامعة‭ ‬نييورك‭ ‬بالإضافة‭ ‬الى‭ ‬عمله‭ ‬المكثف‭ ‬في‭ ‬مجال‭ ‬الإعلام‭. ‬وبالإضافة‭ ‬الى‭ ‬نجاحاته‭ ‬كان‭ ‬من‭ ‬اعماله‭ ‬الناجحة‭ ‬كانت‭ ‬كتابة‭ ‬كلمات‭  ‬اغنية‭ ‬ليالي‭ ‬علاء‭ ‬الدين‭. ‬وكانت‭ ‬كلمات‭ ‬الأغنية‭ ‬في‭ ‬البداية‭ ‬تتحدث‭ ‬عن‭ ‬علاء‭ ‬الدين‭ ‬الشرير‭ ‬والبربري‭  ‬والذي‭ ‬شجعه‭ ‬على‭ ‬العمل‭ ‬على‭ ‬الكلمات‭ ‬الجديدة‭. ‬وكان‭ ‬هذا‭ ‬بعد‭ ‬أن‭ ‬احتج‭ ‬جاك‭ ‬شاهين‭ ‬وعدد‭ ‬من‭ ‬الناشرين‭ ‬قامت‭ ‬الشركة‭ ‬بتغيير‭ ‬الكلمات‭ ‬لما‭ ‬هو‭ ‬اكثر‭ ‬انسجاماً‭ ‬وقبولاً‭ ‬له‭. ‬

ولم‭ ‬يكتفي‭ ‬جاك‭ ‬شاهين‭ ‬بتحدي‭ ‬الصور‭ ‬النمطية‭ ‬في‭ ‬مجال‭ ‬عطاءه‭ ‬للجالية‭ ‬العربية‭ ‬الأمريكية‭ ‬ولكن‭ ‬اسس‭ ‬منحة‭ ‬دراسية‭ ‬للطلبة‭ ‬العرب‭ ‬الأمريكيين‭ ‬الذين‭ ‬يدرسون‭ ‬مجال‭ ‬الإعلام‭. ‬

وسيبقى‭ ‬جاك‭ ‬شاهين‭ ‬علم‭ ‬من‭ ‬اعلام‭ ‬محاربة‭ ‬الصورة‭ ‬السلبية‭ ‬عن‭ ‬العرب‭ ‬في‭ ‬الإعلام‭ ‬ومرجعا‭ ‬في‭ ‬هذا‭ ‬المجال‭. ‬وبسبب‭ ‬أعمال‭ ‬جاك‭ ‬شاهين‭ ‬أقيمت‭ ‬مؤسسة‭ ‬تهتم‭ ‬بالدراسات‭ ‬بهذا‭ ‬المجال‭. ‬ونشبت‭ ‬عدة‭ ‬مناقشات‭ ‬لمحاربة‭ ‬اللاسامية‭ ‬في‭ ‬الإعلام‭. ‬ويترك‭ ‬جاك‭ ‬شاهين‭ ‬وراءه‭ ‬زوجته‭ ‬برنيس‭ ‬واولاده‭ ‬مايكل‭ ‬ومايكل‭ ‬بالإضافة‭ ‬الى‭ ‬احفاده‭.‬