Over the course of this semester we, members of the the University of Central Florida’s Emet for Israel supported group, Knights for Israel, realized we were growing much quicker than anticipated and we wanted to continue building on this momentum. We decided that bringing in another speaker and not generating too much space between events would be the best way to capitalize on our recent success. Given the unique perspective Bassem Eid provided and the feedback we received, we wanted to bring in someone unique and multidimensional; for example a Muslim Zionist. The second we learned that Kasim Hafeez was touring we knew to act quickly and book him as a speaker. We spent a few weeks before the event tabling multiple times a week for the ex-radical Muslim we were bringing to UCF. We used students’ common knowledge of ISIS in order to pique their interest.
Kasim Hafeez, a former Muslim radical, now a proud Muslim Zionist, spoke to students about his life changing transition. Hafeez’s change from anti-Israel/anti-Semitic radical to a Zionist started with The Case for Israel by Alan Dershowitz, which lead to a trip to Israel, which culminated in Hafeez’s realization that the Zionist cause was the just cause, and that he should stand for Israel.
The Friday before our event was a game changer. The Paris attacks occurred and people all over the world, including the students at UCF, were trying to gather the pieces. We spent the final three days prior to the event tabling more obnoxiously than ever before because there seemed to be a no better person to explain what happened in Paris than an ex-radical. We made it clear that if you wanted to make sense of what occurred in Paris hearing Kasim Hafeez’s story was the best way to start.
We managed to fill the classroom we reserved and even had people standing. Furthermore a UCF news outlet attended the event. The combination of Kasim’s incredible story as well as his charm and humor lead to another overwhelmingly successful event. I could not emphasize enough how everyone that attended absolutely loved what he had to say and I was reminded why he is one of my favorites. He shared a story you have to hear in person to believe and he did not hold back from criticizing the hypocrites inside and outside the Muslim community.