One of the questions I get time and time again is how can a young black man, love Israel and support the Jewish people. Especially since I don't come from a Christian Zionist background and am in fact, a secular Zionist. Sadly, there is so much anti-semitism in the black community, someone who doesn't subscribe to this hate is questioned and in some cases attacked. And this is really unfortunate and sad.
My relationship with Jews started when I was a small. When I was younger my family was very poor and my parents struggled. My dad was a door to door salesman and one of the friends of my family, who took care of me a few times when I was tiny baby was a friend of the family who was Jewish and was also poor. Also, when I was a baby I became extremely sick and almost died. I went to a stream of doctors but one of the constants was an extremely kind, Jewish pediatrician who helped save my life. There were a handful of Jews in the school that I went to, but the values I was taught from my parents were not values of hatred or separatism. I was taught that we are all equal and frankly while I was aware that they had some customs that were different than ours, as a child I had very little attention on this, since I was raised with values of tolerance towards people of other ethnic groups. I was not raised with values of hatred but those of love and tolerance towards others. So I played as a child with people from different ethnic backgrounds and it was no big deal.
As the years passed, I met other Jews, Arabs, Asians, Indians and people of other backgrounds. And this only strengthened my belief that underneath it all, people from different ethnic backgrounds are similar. As time moved on, I graduated high school and moved onto life I kept to this viewpoint.
In my early 20s, I was never passionate about Israel. I had the viewpoint that both sides were equally responsible and Israel needs to take more actions to bring about peace. I actually believed that everything would be fine if Israel would simply let the Palestinians into Israel since they were reasonable people, and the Jews were reasonable people and once they were allowed to return everything would be find. I would later discover I had been 180 degrees wrong.
One day, a few years ago, I stumbled into a bookstore and picked out a book entitled, The Case for Israel by Alan Dershowitz. Being a history buff, I decided to buy it and read it. I took it home and in the next week I read it and became enraged about the way the Arabs had treated Israel, but I figured that there were two sides to every story so I decided to look into the other side as well, because surely Dershowitz couldn't have been 100% right. I downloaded a book by well known Israel critic Naomi Klein, I took a book out from the library with detailed information on this conflict primarily based on books by Noam Chomsky and other critics of Israel. I spoke to a few of the members of the local Muslim Students Association. I spent countless hours watching TV and reading documents from Arab sources. I also listened to radio shows on the subject. One of these radio shows was an interview with the Arab Christian woman, Brigitte Gabriel. I bought her books and read them. Then I moved onto another Lebanese Christian, Kameel Saleem. Then I read other books written by Arab Christians. More books written by Muslims, such as those written by my hero Dr. Tawfik Hamid.
And as time went on, I continued to watch videos. Primarily from Palestinians and other Arabs. Primarily translated videos from Arabic. And the more I watched, the more disgusted I got with the racism and hatred that I saw being promoted.
In the interest of fairness, I also downloaded and listened to many, many radio shows done by the "horrible" Jewish "settlers." I listened to several radio shows done by a prominent supporter of the hilltop Jewish settlers, people considered the most extreme of the extreme by some.
I investigated Rabbi Meir Kahane and the Jewish Defense League who are considered equivalent to Palestinian terrorists by some and I found that, while I vehemently disagreed with them on many points, they were still not equivalent to what I had seen on Arab language TV. Most of there statements were nowhere near what the average Imam says in Friday sermons about the Jews and Christians at any given Friday sermon.
The bottom line, is what I saw being promoted by Rabbi Kahane, expelling Palestinians from Israel is nothing compared to what the Muslims say about Jews and Christians. And it is nothing compared to how the Arab governments treat their own Palestinian populations, when they have large numbers of Palestinians living within their borders. All Arab governments, save Jordan, do not allow Palestinians to become citizens. In all of these countries Palestinians occupy the bottom rung of the totem poll. They are discriminated against, oppressed by their host countries, which, in the UN cry on and on about Israel's treatment of the very same people that they treat far worse than Israel. One example of this is Kuwait. Every Palestinian was transferred out of the country in a one month period in 1991 after Kuwait was liberated from Iraqi control. Once Iraq was liberated from Saddam, the Iraqi people did the same thing. But they weren't as nice. They directed the Palestinians to leave, and killed any who refused or didn't move out quickly enough. And even Jordan has began to lose patience with the Palestinians and have begun to strip thousands of Palestinians of their citizenship. There was a huge protest recently (mid 2010) in Lebanon against the horrible treatment and discrimination that Palestinians face in Lebanon. And these are just a handful of examples. I could give many more.
And looking at the above, comparing how Israel acts to the Arab states I came to the conclusion that, despite the fact that Israel is a highly flawed society, which, like every other Western country, has some who are racists and extremists, the overwhelming number of Israelis want peace with the Arab world. I found that even the "horrible" settlers were willing to reach out to and talk to Arabs who were friendly towards them and respected their rights to live in their homes. I learned that more than half of Israel's consisted of Jews who had been ethnically cleansed from Muslim countries while over a million Arab Muslims are allowed to live in Israel. In other words, Arab Muslims, despite their long history as a group, of crimes against the Jewish people, are allowed to live in Israel. Yet Jews are not accorded even 10% of the rights in Arab countries that Muslims enjoy in the Jewish state.
I also found that, while there is discrimination by some against Ethiopian and Sephardi Jews, there are laws against this and this is frowned upon. I compared this situation to minorities in the Arab world and found it to be night and day. While again, Israel is an imperfect society and like all countries it does have its share of racist people, minorities did have the right to stay alive. They had the right to vote and to live their lives in peace in Israel. However in most of the Arab world, minorities didn't even have the first basic right, that to stay alive. I saw minorities being worked as virtual slaves in some Arab countries. I saw Arab Muslims throwing rocks at African Muslims. I read a statement by the king of Saudi Arabia and how Africans, like myself "pollute" his country and because of that, he didn't want us to work there. I saw Israel, the Jewish state as the only state willing to give Black Christians and Black Muslims from the Sudan a place to live, while most of the Arab states shot these people on sight. I saw the pervasive racism and deep seated hatred towards African Muslims which went way beyond anything I had seen in Israel or even in the United States. The Jewish tolerance towards my brothers and sisters in the Sudan, and then in Haiti filled my heart with gratefulness and love towards this small country.
I found that both Fatah and Hamas were indoctrinating the Palestinian Arabs with hatred towards their neighbors. I found that both groups were committing atrocities against their own people and instead of bettering the condition of these people, things were actually getting worse. For example, after Israel foolishly signed the Oslo accords, a reign of terror began for the residents of the West Bank and Gaza. Living standards went down. Unemployment rose. These areas went from being second world areas, with booming economies, to third world thugocracies, where the gang with the most guns wins. Because of this constant bombardment of propaganda, most of the Arabs are actually unprepared for peace. The majority are completely unwilling to live in peace with Israel or with the Jewish people. Therefore, giving them rights to elect leaders that would declare war and endanger not only Israel but bring danger to the Arabs themselves is unwise.
I saw this propaganda, some from Hamas and other from Fatah and I realized that both of these groups care nothing about Palestinians and other Arabs and are simply setting them up as cannon fodder. They truly don't care about their own people and while Israel ruling over these areas was not perfect, it was way better than the alternative which is Fatah and Hamas having free reign to kill thousands of Palestinians and hundreds of Jewish men, women and children. So therefore, a two state solution was was not in the best interest of either the Arabs or the Jews. And while the Jewish state has flaws, all states do, it was morally better than any Muslim state.
And one of the key things in turning me into a supporter of Israel is the manner in which Islamic regimes treat their own people. One of my dear friends is a secular Palestinian woman who is going to remain unnamed here, from Gaza. I read an amazing book called Cruel and Usual Punishment and I couldn't believe how Arab regimes treat their women. I just got enraged at the thought that my dear friend would be raped, beaten or killed simply because she is a kind tolerant human being. They would subject her and probably her family to this treatment because she is tolerant of people of all races and religions. Because she does the "unthinkable" in the mind of some. She dates a non-Arab man, she dresses in jeans. She hangs out with people of different racial backgrounds. These are of course, capital offenses in the minds of radical Muslims and their Islamic regimes. Every Islamic government would support her rape, torture and death, from Ramallah, to Gaza to Saudi Arabia to most Islamic governments in between. That some people would applaud this. And then I knew I couldn't be silent about this. Innocent people are dying. Not only are Jews and Christians dying, but innocent Muslims are dying. And in fact, 99% of the victims of these fanatics are other Arabs. That is the real tragedy. These regimes, this insanity doesn't bring about human rights. It doesn't bring about a better society. It brings about the deaths of more people. Innocent people who had absolutely no need to die. Innocent people like my friend who simply want to live their lives in peace and security. Thank God she lives in America and is able to live in a free society. But the hundreds of millions of people, living under the tyranny of radical Islam don't have this choice.
And when I talk about the Palestinians, Egyptians, Saudis, etc., I'm not usually talking about people living in these areas, I'm talking about their governments. In many cases the people are victims of the governments, if in no other way, victims of the propaganda and other misinformation fed to them. The majority of people in these areas would, if they had been taught the truth and were given the actual information on the situation, if they were freed from false beliefs including false religious beliefs, would choose peace. Would choose tolerance. But this hasn't been the case. They are suffering from an occupation of the mind and this occupation consists of lies, misinformation and crushing poverty caused by their governments. And that is the real cause of the situation they find themselves in. Lies, propaganda, misinformation. I have nothing against Arabs or any other racial group. I don't hate Muslims simply for being Muslims. But there is an epidemic of ignorance in the Muslim community which can't be denied. And ignorance is ignorance and truth is truth. But it is a disservice to not debunk the lies that Muslims have been taught, because they hurt us as well as them.
So, in a very strange way, the Arabs, both the pro-Israel Arabs and anti-Israel Arabs contributed to me becoming a strong supporter of Israel. Ironically the propaganda that the Palestinians put out in order to get people to feel sympathy and join their cause brought me to the realization that their cause is wrong. At the same time I reject lies from some Jews, such as Jeremy Ben-Ami and his ilk that added up to, "if we stick our head in the sand, the problems will disappear." In other words, if Israelis simply withdraw from areas and put up big walls, suddenly everything will be fine. And this completely false. That is a lie as well and far too prevalent in modern Israeli society and this is a cause of some of the problems they are facing today.
In fact, while I do hold radical Muslims responsible for the situation in the middle east, I also recognize that some Jews such as George Soros, Naomi Klein, Adam Shapiro, Jeremy Ben-Ami of J-Street, and Naomi Chazan of the New Israel Fund have heavily contributed to the state of war we see between the Arab world and the Jews. The policies these individuals and organizations promote are, at their core anti-peace. And I condemn them for this. I am 100% against them and others who preach that certain people should be kept separate from others based on race, religion or ethnic background. Peace doesn't come through ethnic cleansing, forcing people out of their homes and separation. It comes through communication. It comes through allowing law abiding, loyal citizens to live in peace, free from terrorism and terrorist entities. It also comes through the expulsion of individuals who are trying to overthrow the Israeli government. It comes through sensible humanitarian, solutions to terrorist organizations like Hamas such as giving them three choices: the right to surrender, leave Israel and cease all attacks on it or be destroyed. It comes through teaching the truth to Arabs and Jews, not politically correct lies.