Now They Call Me Infidel
Editor’s Note: Nonie Darwish is a courageous, Egyptian-born Muslim who has dared to speak out against Islamic terrorism and suppression. Her father, Mustafa Hafez, was a high-ranking Egyptian military officer who died in 1956 leading attacks against Israel in Gaza. But Nonie loves her adopted country, America. And she loves Israel. We are privileged to reprint this excerpt from her outstanding book, Now They Call Me Infidel by Nonie Darwish.
Israel has been the object of constant terrorism—a barrage of 9/11s all through its history. As a percentage of their total population, Israel has lost far more lives to terror than the United States did in 9/11. Arabs have always rejected peace with Israel, using Israel as their excuse for a jihad that has now reached all corners of the globe. The way the Jews have been treated in the Middle East is tragic and a disgrace. And the world—including much of the West, with the exception of the United States—has abandoned Israel in order to appease twenty-two Arab countries with large oil reserves.
My position on Israel is in sharp contrast with the majority of the Muslim world and Arab Americans. It is even more unusual coming from an Arab woman. But the stalemate in the Arab-Israeli crisis will not be solved by Arabs and Muslims clinging to the same old outlook toward Israel. There must be a new paradigm, a fresh perspective by Arab countries if they are serious about peace and ending the stalemate.
As my articles in support of Israel began appearing, I started receiving e-mails from Arabs and Muslims who had begun to circulate my articles inside the Arab world. Some supported my views on Israel; I discovered I was not alone in my wish for peace with Israel. There were Arabs just like me who wanted peace and were ready to move beyond the conflict. But almost all of them told me not to post their names. Some of what they told me was very personal, private, and moving. It was a call for help from inside the Muslim and Arab world. The e-mails streamed in from Egypt, the West Bank, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Algeria, Yemen, Malaysia, Tunisia—from all over the Arab world. Many of them told me, “You are right on the money!” or “You have the courage of ten Arab men!” Through the e-mails that flooded in, I heard of the suffering on both sides, the Arab and the Israeli.
In February 2004, I founded the Web site www.ArabsforIsrael.com as my answer to this tragedy, my attempt to bring a voice to all these people who needed to express their views without fear. Thank God for the Internet.
ArabsforIsrael.com now provides a forum for Arabs and Muslims who want to express their support for Israel. Tragically, Israel has few friends at this point in history, and I wish through my actions to convey to every Israeli and Jew around the world, that, yes, there are Arabs and Muslims who support them and wish for their well-being.
Some Arabs asked me, why not call the Web site something like “support Israel and Palestinians.” To them I say: there is nothing new about an Arab supporting Palestinians; that will not bring any new perspective to solving the crisis. Palestinian Arabs already enjoy the encouragement and support of all Arab and Muslim countries as well as many non-Muslim countries around the world. What we need now is a revolutionary idea, a new perspective—one that regards Israel as an asset and not as an enemy in the region. This new outlook is necessary if our common goal is peace. I was convinced that “Arabs for Israel” was the right name for the new perspective I was advocating. I want to tell Palestinians that they have a neighbor who could be an honest partner with them. Having a neighbor of a different religion and perhaps a different culture can be an asset and not the handicap that the Arab world has been telling them it is for fifty-eight years.
The so-called support the Arab world gives Palestinians is poisonous. In setting up the Web site, I wanted to distance myself from the kind of support twenty-two Arab countries have been giving to Arabs of the West Bank and Gaza. I have seen it, lived it, been immersed in it for too long. Life has gotten only progressively worse for Palestinians since the days when I lived as a child in Gaza. These twenty-two powerful Arab countries have brought nothing to the Palestinians but defeat after defeat, failed promises, and feelings of despair and victimhood. All sorts of tactics have been used in their quest to bring “justice” for the Palestinians: manipulation, shaming, blaming, and rewarding terror. All of it has been done at the expense of a stable life for the Palestinians. In the process, Palestinians have nothing to show for all these decades of war and terror.
Like most of the Arab world around them, Palestinians are predominantly poor, living under corruption, mismanagement, and chronically high unemployment. Conditions for the majority of poor in Egypt are no better. Instead of Palestinians lining up for work on their borders with Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, or Syria, they have been lining up for work inside Israel—the very country Arabs expect them to terrorize. Several generations of Palestinians have forgotten what life in a normal setting is and are immersed in self-pity. In the midst of the false pity the Arab world around them dishes out, some Palestinians have begun to feel that the world owes them. They don’t remember a society with respect for the rule of law, a society in which citizens produce what they need to live on instead of waiting for handouts from around the world.
Geographically, Gaza is untenable. It has too many people crowded into a tiny strip of desert that cannot possibly economically support that size of a population. It is an artificial and unnatural situation allowed by surrounding Arab countries to purposely keep Gaza an overcrowded tinderbox of unrest. The Palestinian family unit has been shattered and ripped apart by jihad and terrorism. Encouraged by Arab countries, jihad has become a greater value than motherhood. Women are urged to become terrorists as much as men are. And mothers are brainwashed to be proud when their children blow themselves up to kill Jews.
Arab “love” and “support” of Palestinians has been extremely self-serving, manipulative, and crippling, and has kept them in constant turmoil, terror, and war. They are literally loving them to death. The two regions—the West Bank and Gaza—have simply been cynically used and abused by Arabs as launching grounds for war and terror against Israel. The Palestinian-Israeli conflict represents the focal point of the larger confrontation of the Muslim world against the non-Muslim world. Israel may be the frontline enemy, but beyond the Mediterranean and the ocean is the non-Muslim world that Muslims believe they need to conquer for Islam. In the process, Palestinians have been sacrificed and kept hostage as the human frontline of Arab jihad.
No, I do not want to give that kind of support to Palestinians. They have been used and abused enough by the Arab world. Palestinian children deserve better. They don’t need hatred; they need hope. They don’t need jihad; they need jobs. I reject such eternal jihad and terrorism. I can no longer wish this on any Arab child. That is why when people disapprovingly ask me, “Don’t you support Palestinians?” I say to them, “Yes,” but not in the same way as the rest of the Arab world. I no longer want Palestinians to be hostages to Arab dreams of a caliphate.
In the meantime, supporting Israel and the Jewish people who have contributed to the Middle East culture for thousands of years is simply good, right, and the honorable thing to do.
The following are the principles that I and other like-minded Arabs have enumerated for the Web site ArabsforIsrael.com:
We Are Arabs and Muslims Who Believe…
- We can support Israel and still support the Palestinian people. Supporting one does not cancel support for the other.
- We can support the State of Israel and the Jewish religion and still treasure our Arab and Islamic culture.
- There are many Jews and Israelis who freely express compassion and support for the Palestinians. It is time that we Arabs express reciprocal compassion and support.
- The existence of the State of Israel is a fact that should be accepted by the Arab world.
- Israel is a legitimate state that is not a threat but an asset in the Middle East.
- Every major world religion has a center of gravity. Islam has Mecca, and Judaism certainly deserves its presence in Israel and Jerusalem.
- Diversity should not be a virtue only in the United States, but should be encouraged around the world. We support a diverse Middle East with protection for human rights and respect and equality under the law to all minorities, including Jews and Christians.
- Arabs must end the boycott of Israel.
- Palestinians have several options but are deprived from exercising them because of their leadership, the Arab League, and surrounding Arab and Muslim countries who do not want to see Palestinians live in harmony with Israel.
- If Palestinians want democracy, they can start practicing it now.
- We stand firmly against suicide/homicide terrorism as a form of jihad.
- We are appalled by the horrific act of terror against the USA on September 11, 2001.
- Arab media should end the incitement and misinformation that result in Arab street rage and violence.
- We are eager to see major reformation in how Islam is taught and channeled in order to bring out the best in Muslims and contribute to the uplifting of the human spirit and advancement of civilization.
- We believe in freedom to choose or change one’s religion.
- We cherish and acknowledge the beauty and contributions of the Middle East culture, but recognize that the Arab/Muslim world is in desperate need of constructive self-criticism and reform.
(“Arabs for Israel,” from NOW THEY CALL ME INFIDEL by Nonie Darwish, copyright © 2006 by Nonie Darwish. Used by permission of Sentinel, an imprint of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.).