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Johnny
May 3rd 2012, 01:57 PM
How I went from hating to loving Israel and the Jewish people




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by Kasim Hafeez






How I went from hating to loving Israel and the Jewish people






I am a Zionist, a proud Muslim Zionist, and I love Israel, but this was notalways the case. In fact, for many years I was quite the extreme opposite. Iexperienced the high levels of anti-Semitism and anti-Israel activity takingplace 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 andopinions at best condemning Israel, painting Jews as usurpers and murderers,and at worse calling for the wholesale destruction of the "ZionistEntity" and all Jews. In short, there was no accommodating a Jewish Statein the Middle East.

To grow up around this constant barrage of hatred directed at Israel has amassive effect on an individualís own opinions. More disturbingly, many ofthese people werenít radical or extreme, but when it was about Israel the mostvicious of rhetoric poured out, coupled with the casual anti-Semitism thatseemed too prevalent, when the phrase "stop being a Jew" used as aninsult.

My father, however, was much more brazen in his hatred, boasting of howAdolf Hitler was a hero, his only failing being that he didn't kill enoughJews.

By the time I had reached 18 I was completely indoctrinated to the fold ofradical Islamism. My hate for Israel and for the Jews was fuelled by images ofdeath and destruction, set to the backdrop of Arabic melodies about Jihad andspeeches of Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah or Osama Bin Laden.

These views were reinforced when I attended Nakba Day rallies, wherespeakers predicted Israel's demise as Hezbollah flags were waved proudly in thecentre of London.

The Case for Israel

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Hafeez in Israel in a visit that changed his life

Was there a case for Israel? In my mind, of course not, there was no shadowof doubt. Even the most moderate clerics I came across refused to condemnterrorism against Israel as unjustified; the Jews must obviously deserve it, Ibelieved.

So what changed? How could I go from all this hatred to the great love forand affinity with Israel and the Jewish people? I found myself in the Israeland Palestine section of a local bookstore and picked up a copy of AlanDershowitzís The Case for Israel. Given my worldview, the Jews andAmericans controlled the media, so after brief look at the back, I scoffedthinking "vile Zionist propaganda."

I did, however, decide to buy it, content that I would shortly bedeconstructing this propaganda piece, showing that Israel had no case andclaiming my findings as a personal victory for the Palestinian cause.

As I read Dershowitzís arguments and deconstruction of many lies I saw asunquestionable truths, I searched despairingly for counter arguments, but foundmore hollow rhetoric that Iíd believed for many years. I felt a real crisis ofconscience, and thus began a period of unbiased research. Up until that point Ihad 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 Ifelt I had no other choice but to see Israel for myself; only that way Iídreally know the truth. At the risk of sounding clichť, it was a life-changingvisit.

No Apartheid State

I did not encounter an apartheid racist state, but rather, quite theopposite. I was confronted by synagogues, mosques and churches, by Jews andArabs living together, by minorities playing huge parts in all areas of Israelilife, from the military to the judiciary. It was shocking and eye-opening. Thiswasn'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 hadbeen confronted with the truth and had to accept it. But I had a biggerquestion to confront, what now? Iíd for years campaigned against Israel, butnow 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. Ihave faced hostility from my own community and even some within the Jewishcommunity in the UK, but thatís the reality of standing up for Israel in Europetoday. 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 thosefiled with blind hatred continue to swell, yet many have not been exposed tothe reality, away from the empty rhetoric and politically charged slogans theyare so fond of.

We can change this situation but we need to be strong and united. Israel isnot just a Jewish issue "ē itís about freedom, human rights and democracy,all the values that Western nations cherish. Itís also about trying to be alight among nations.

Israelís international humanitarian aid work speaks for itself, but if wedonít get the message out there, no one will. We donít have to be head-bowedapologists leading with :Israelís not perfectÖ" "ē we should never beafraid to say: I am a Zionist and Iím proud. I stand with Israel. Now I ask,will you do that?

This article can be read on-line at: http://www.aish.com/jw/me/Muslim_Zionist_and_Proud.html (http://www.aish.com/jw/me/Muslim_Zionist_and_Proud.html)


Author Biography:

Kasim Hafeez is a British Muslim and former Islamist who is now a proudZionist and stands with Israel. He runs www.theisraelcampaign.org (http://www.theisraelcampaign.org/)and has a blog on this site. He is also on the advisory board of StandWithUs inthe UK and recently completed a university speaking tour.






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