Contributed by 2014-2015 CAMERA Fellow Logan Woodard
Muslim Zionists are those who identify with the Islamic faith, and simultaneously support the self-determination of the Jewish people inside the State of Israel. The history of Muslim Zionism goes as far back as the Middle Ages with Zionist interpretations of various verses of the Qur’an. More modern examples can be seen coming out of a number of different countries, including Israel, from the 20th century to the present. An example of Muslim Zionism is a 1918 article from the Al Qibla, a daily newspaper in Mecca, supporting the Balfour Declaration. “The resources of the country [Palestine] are still virgin soil and will be developed by the Jewish immigrants (…) we have seen the Jews from foreign countries streaming to Palestine from Russia, Germany, Austria, Spain, and America. The cause of causes could not escape those who had a gift of deeper insight. They knew that the country was for its original sons [abna’ihi-l-asliyin], for all their differences, a sacred and beloved homeland. The return of these exiles [jaliya] to their homeland will prove materially and spiritually an experimental school for their brethren who are with them in the fields, factories, trades and all things connected to the land” (Katz, 25).
Muslim recognition and support of The State of Israel is crucial to establishing peaceful relations between Israel and her neighbors. Muslim Zionists offer a different pro-Israel perspective and give hope for peaceful faith relations both within the Middle East and abroad. With more tolerance and understanding will come cooperation, peace, and prosperity. These Muslim Zionists are not only supporters of Israel, but are also supporters of the Palestinian people and their right to not live under Hamas, a genocidal terrorist organization.
A number of Israeli-Arab Muslims, who make up 20% of Israel’s population, identify as Zionists because they are able to experience Israel firsthand. They live life as equal citizens of Israel and understand the importance of the only democracy in the Middle East. There are Muslims who serve in the military, as police officers, and as members of Knesset. They experience rights as full Israeli citizens and have complete freedom of religion, sexuality, speech, and more.
Muhammad Zoabi is a 17-year old Arab Israeli Muslim Zionist who was made famous this past year due to his activism and outright support for the state of Israel on social media. Over the summer, Muhammad was forced into hiding after he “received death threats, [was] harassed, and [was] almost kidnapped to PA territories.” Muhammad’s unwavering support for Israel inspired many in the pro-Israel community, and he received a great deal of support during this difficult time. Many even offered to harbor him to protect him and his family from harassment and possible murder, despite the risk to their own lives and the lives of their families. Muhammad, despite his young age, is able to identify what makes Israel truly amazing. He is able to appreciate the rights awarded to him in the Jewish state, and he is using these freedoms to share his love and support. Muhammad has started a revolution within the Zionist community by showing us that there are Muslims who are willing to stand up for equality and democracy despite the risk to their own lives. He revitalized our hope that peace is possible.
Above: Muhammad Zoabi sharing his love for Israel.
Kasim Hafeez is a British citizen of Muslim Pakistani origin. He is a former Islamic radical who, upon reading Alan Dershowitz’s book “The Case for Israel”, became an active member of the Zionist community. Hafeez is coming to speak at the University at Buffalo with the help of the Jewish Federation of Greater Buffalo on April 28th. We will be extending an invitation to the Muslim student community in the hopes that they see that Zionism is not exclusive of Islam.
Above: Kasim Hafeez sharing his story.
I hope that these brave individuals will inspire others within the Muslim community to stand up for peace and democracy and to speak out against terrorism and anti-Semitism.