Contributed by CAMERA intern Emma Fruchtman.
This semester, 23 Clark University students gathered to hear Kasim Hafeez describe how he became a proud Zionist.
Having grown up surrounded by anti-Israel and anti-Semitic sentiments in his small Pakistani Muslim community, having been raised by his staunchly pro-Hitler father, and having participated in several Naqba Day rallies, Hafeez seemed to be on the path towards radical Islam. With the intent to debunk Alan Dershowitz’s pro-Israel arguments, Hafeez purchased The Case For Israel. Befuddled by the hollowness of the rhetoric he learned as a child, Hafeez decided to go to Israel. When he returned home, he was left with such a profoundly positive impression, which he hoped to share with the larger community. Now he speaks to college students across the United States.
Kasim was hosted as the keynote speaker of CHAI’s (Clarkies Helping and Advocating for Israel) Israel week. In an effort to attract as many attendees as possible, Seth Greenwald, Clark University’s CAMERA Fellow and a member of CHAI, organized and publicized the event through flyers and by word of mouth. Students were very engaged and impressed by Kasim’s story. “His story was so impactful because it’s personal and he can explain a way of life that no one else can,” says Seth. “Personal narratives are crucial to understanding the meaning behind the conflict.” During the Q&A, Kasim was careful to only answer questions about his own experiences, steering clear from political topics that could possibly dissuade people. Overall, the event, sponsored by CAMERA and co-sponsored by the ZOA, was a success!