I expected this to be all about food. It sort of is with the writer explaining how in Yemen, they were welcomed into homes and offered food. How the street markets of Sana’a have vendors everywhere selling food to be eaten on the spot.
But then when the situation is flipped in America, guests are not treated the same. Not even with Yemeni bodega owners in New York.
It’s all tied in to this point (though I recommend reading the whole article linked above):
It was an interview from March of 2015, just as the latest civil war in Yemen flared up, conducted with Johannes van der Klaauw, the UN humanitarian coordinator for Yemen. He said, “Despite Yemen being a poor country, it is the most hospitable. It is the only country in the region that has signed international commitments to protect refugees and asylum seekers, human rights and children’s rights. It takes the responsibility seriously but it does not have the capacities and stability to ensure the implementation of these commitments.”
“America is different,” I thought to myself. We are not a poor country. We are stable and capable. But we do not take our commitments to protect refugees and asylum seekers seriously. We do not welcome strangers as honored guests. We barely welcome them at all—particularly, it seems, when we ourselves have been a party to their troubles.