There appears to be a trend among non-Israeli and often non-Jewish supporters of Israel to associate their support of Israel with right-wing extremist causes such as hatred of Islam.  These people are playing into the hands of Islamist extremists, such as Hamas, who wish to portray the Israel / Arab conflict as a conflict between Muslims and non-Muslims, and they are enabling the extremist leftists who claim that Zionists are imperialist bigots.  Most importantly, they do not know Israel.

Israel is a multicultural liberal democracy where the rights of religious and ethnic minorities are respected as much as in any modern liberal democracy, and often more.  Almost twenty percent of Israelis are Muslim, and they are an intrinsic part of Israel’s society and culture.  The right of Israeli Muslims to practice their faith and to live freely as full Israeli citizens is widely respected by Israelis, and it is upheld by Israel’s justice system.  Even Israel’s “right-wing” President, 
Reuven Rivlin, is a passionate defender of minority rights.

Those who think that Israel exists to fight Islam seem to be totally unaware that Israel is a love story, not a hate story, and they therefore have much in common with the equally mistaken anti-Zionists.

Being opposed to Islam as a whole is prejudiced, just as being opposed to any other religion.  Islam is not the “religion of peace” as some people have claimed, at least not the version adopted by Hamas, Hezbullah, and Daesh, but neither are any of the other religions.  I know the arguments about Muslim scriptures and Muslim history and so on, but each religion has its unsavory scriptures and several have a violent history.  Singling out Islam as the only problem is naïve and counter-productive.  A religion is whatever its adherents choose to make it.

The Islam of Hamas is not the Islam of Raheel Raza, an outspoken liberal Muslim and supporter of Israel.  The Islam of Hezbullah is not the Islam of Aboud Dandachi, a Syrian refugee and political commentator who learned to admire and support Jews and the Jewish state.  The Islam of Daesh is not the Islam of Sinem Tezyapar, a great friend of Jews and Israel, and an advocate of inter-faith dialog.  Yet Raheel Raza, Aboud Dandachi, and Sinem Tezyapar are all proud Muslims who have a deep affection for their religion.

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The real Israel is supported by many Muslims, not only in Israel, but also by many Muslims around the world. In addition to the three Muslims already mentioned, this includes Abdul Hadi PalazziAbdurrahman WahidAdnan OktarAhmad al-Adwan,Ahmed MeligyAnett HaskiaBassem EidEd HusainHasan AfzalIrshad ManjiIsmail KhaldKasim HafeezKhaleel MohammedMaajid NawazMohammad ZoabiMohammed Mostafa KamalMuhammad Al-HussainiQanta AhmedSalim Mansur, Tarek Fatah, Tawfik Hamid, and many others who support Israel quietly.

Lumping together 1.6 billion Muslims into one reviled abstraction is a disservice not only to Israel but also to Israel’s values of democracy, diversity, tolerance, and human rights.  Muslims are not an abstraction.  Among Muslims, you will find neighbors, friends, relatives, business partners, co-workers, and fellow citizens.  Among Muslims you will also find some of the fiercest opponents of Islamist extremism.  Reality is complex and often overwhelming, but it cannot be explained away by the wholesale demonization of a quarter of the world’s population.

The enemies of Israel are engaged in an extensive propaganda war that falsely accuses Israel of every crime imaginable, from racism to terrorism to genocide.  The anti-Zionists rely on a web of lies and on the fact that most of those who hate Israel have never met a Jew in their life.  They rely on ignorance, stupidity, and anti-Semitism.  Anti-Zionists are also able to deceitfully use the allegedly pro-Israel statements of bigots to claim that all Zionists are bigots even though such “Zionists” do not represent Israel in any way.

Therefore if you insist on vilifying 1.6 billion people, and if you must make preposterous demands such as banning Islam, it is your freedom of speech that you are misusing, not mine.  All I am asking is to please, please, please shut up about Israel.  On the other hand, if Israel is important to you then learn about and support the real Israel, not the fictional one in your head.


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