Muslim, Zionist and proud / Op-ed: His father praised Hitler, but Kasim Hafeez writes about love for Israel, Jewish people (YNetNews.Com -Yedioth Internet) Kasim Hafeez Published: 04.25.12, 17:27)
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I am a Zionist, a proud Muslim Zionist, and I love Israel, but this
was not always the case. In fact, for many years I was quite the
extreme opposite. I experienced the high levels of anti-Semitism and
anti-Israel activity taking place on British university campuses,
because I was the anti-Semitic, anti-Israel activist.
Growing up in the Muslim community in the UK I was exposed to
materials and opinions at best condemning Israel, painting Jews as
usurpers and murderers, and at worse calling for the wholesale
destruction of the "Zionist Entity" and all Jews. In short, there was
no accommodating a Jewish State in the Middle East.
To grow up around this constant barrage of hatred directed at Israel
has a massive effect on an individualís own opinions. More
disturbingly, many of these people werenít radical or extreme, but
when it was about Israel the most vicious of rhetoric poured out,
coupled with the casual anti-Semitism that seemed too prevalent, when
the phrase "stop being a Jew" used as an insult.
My father, however, was much more brazen in his hatred, boasting of
how Adolf Hitler was a hero, his only failing being that he didn´t
kill enough Jews.
By the time I had reached 18 I was completely indoctrinated to the
fold of radical Islamism. My hate for Israel and for the Jews was
fuelled by images of death and destruction, set to the backdrop of
Arabic melodies about Jihad and speeches of Hezbollah leader Hassan
Nasrallah or Osama Bin Laden.
These views were reinforced when I attended Nakba Day rallies, where
speakers predicted Israel´s demise as Hezbollah flags were waved
proudly in the centre of London.
The Case for Israel
Was there a case for Israel? In my mind, of course not, there was no
shadow of doubt. Even the most moderate clerics I came across refused
to condemn terrorism against Israel as unjustified; the Jews must
obviously deserve it, I believed.
So what changed? How could I go from all this hatred to the great
love for and affinity with Israel and the Jewish people? I found
myself in the Israel and Palestine section of a local bookstore and
picked up a copy of Alan Dershowitzís The Case for Israel. Given my
worldview, the Jews and Americans controlled the media, so after
brief look at the back, I scoffed thinking "vile Zionist propaganda."
I did, however, decide to buy it, content that I would shortly be
deconstructing this propaganda piece, showing that Israel had no case
and claiming my findings as a personal victory for the Palestinian
As I read Dershowitzís arguments and deconstruction of many lies I
saw as unquestionable truths, I searched despairingly for counter
arguments, but found more hollow rhetoric that Iíd believed for many
years. I felt a real crisis of conscience, and thus began a period of
unbiased research. Up until that point I had not been exposed to
anything remotely positive about Israel.
Now, I didn´t know what to believe. I´d blindly followed others for
so long, yet here I was questioning whether I had been wrong. I
reached a point where I felt I had no other choice but to see Israel
for myself; only that way Iíd really know the truth. At the risk of
sounding clichť, it was a life-changing visit.
No apartheid state
I did not encounter an apartheid racist state, but rather, quite the
opposite. I was confronted by synagogues, mosques and churches, by
Jews and Arabs living together, by minorities playing huge parts in
all areas of Israeli life, from the military to the judiciary. It was
shocking and eye-opening. This wasn´t the evil Zionist Israel that I
had been told about.
After much soul searching, I knew what I had once believed was wrong.
I had been confronted with the truth and had to accept it. But I had
a bigger question to confront, what now? Iíd for years campaigned
against Israel, but now I knew the truth.
The choice was obvious: I had to stand with Israel, with this tiny
nation, free, democratic, making huge strides in medicine, research
and development, yet the victim of the same lies and hatred that
nearly consumed me.
Doing this is not easy and thatís something that has become very
obvious. I have faced hostility from my own community and even some
within the Jewish community in the UK, but thatís the reality of
standing up for Israel in Europe today. It is not easy, and thatís
what makes it so necessary.
This isnít about religion and politics; itís about the truth.
When it comes to Israel, the truth is not being heard, the ranks of
those filed with blind hatred continue to swell, yet many have not
been exposed to the reality, away from the empty rhetoric and
politically charged slogans they are so fond of.
We can change this situation but we need to be strong and united.
Israel is not just a Jewish issue - itís about freedom, human rights
and democracy, all the values that Western nations cherish. Itís also
about trying to be a light among nations.
Israelís international humanitarian aid work speaks for itself, but
if we donít get the message out there, no one will. We donít have to
be head-bowed apologists leading with :Israelís not perfectÖ" - we
should never be afraid to say: I am a Zionist and Iím proud. I stand
with Israel. Now I ask, will you do that?
Kasim Hafeez is a British Muslim and former Islamist who is now a
proud Zionist and stands with Israel. He runs
www.theisraelcampaign.org and has a blog on this site. He is also on
the advisory board of StandWithUs in the UK and recently completed a
university speaking tour
Pro-Israel bloggers are welcome to send emails to opinions@y-
i.co.il . (Copyright 2012 © Yedioth Internet 04/25/12)
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