An article submitted by reader MazeArtist (embedded link added by Smooth):
In Jerusalem, taxi drivers come from many backgrounds and educational levels, and are usually open to conversations. On my way to the Conference on Antisemitism, Multiculturalism, and Ethnic Identity at Hebrew University The taxi driver who took me there was an Arab resident of Abu Dis, which is located within the jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority.
Though Ayyad appeared to be dismayed by this inconveniences of the Security Fence and checkpoints built by Israel to deter terrorists, throughout our conversation he pointed out how much he loved the culture and diversity of Jerusalem. Ayyad chose to enroll his daughter at a school in the Katamon neighborhood of Jerusalem, where she can learn Hebrew and Arabic alongside other Jewish and Arab classmates. In spite of the longer commute and higher tuition, the taxi driver praised the school for being tolerant, and teaching his children English
At the conference, there was a presentation of a new documentary film, “Obsession” (click on the link to view it) which explores the culture of Islamic extremism. The movie was followed by a talk with Nonie Darwish, an outspoken Arab supporter of Israel. As I watched images of children in the documentary reciting songs praising suicide bombings, I fully understood why Ayyad chose to enroll his daughter in an Israeli, rather than a Palestinian school. Making great effort to show that it does not criticize Islam as a whole, Darwish asserts that is the messengers who are doing the damage, not the teachings themselves. Directed by South African filmmaker Wayne Kopping, the documentary features voices such as former PLO terrorist Walid Shoebat, Director of the Middle East Forum Daniel Pipes, and Palestinian journalist Khaled Abu Toameh.
Darwish grew up in Egyptian-occupied Gaza, where her father served as a fedayeen commander, responsible for launching attack raids on Israel. In spite of being fed constant anti-Semitic propaganda in school, Darwish experienced the compassion of Israel at an early age. “One time, Israeli agents infiltrated into Gaza in search of my father, and entered our home,” Darwish recalls. Finding only her mother and children, the agents looked at them, and quietly left. “Contrast this with the fedayeen, who indiscriminately fired at Israeli women and children.”
When she later moved to Cairo, she befriended a neighbor who was a Coptic Christian. Walking past a mosque, they both heard hate speech being directed towards Copts and Jews. Seeing fear in the eyes of her friend, Darwish began to question the use of Islam as a justification for hate speech. Moving to Los Angeles, Darwish became friends with many Jews, and was impressed by their consistent support for a peaceful solution, and their tolerance towards gentiles. When asked if she had any fear in being the founder of Arabs for Israel, she gave an example. “Ten years ago, my brother in Gaza suffered a stroke, and everyone around him agreed that if we wanted him to live, he had to be sent to Hadassah Hospital.” However, when Darwish wanted to express her gratitude to Israel in a local newspaper, she was prevented from doing so. In spite of this, Darwish states that “In times of crisis Arabs trust Jews, because they have compassion and a higher moral ground.”
Describing the September 11th attacks as the “straw that broke the camel’s back,” Darwish claims that the attacks made her more pro-American than ever. As a firsthand witness to the culture of hate that is being bred in certain schools, she urged western governments to be vigilant against local extremist groups, and to stop “tolerating intolerance.” This message is evident in the documentary in the images of hateful rallies and preachers in Great Britain, and the use of hateful cartoons in the Arab media.
The documentary also establishes a connection between the culture of hate that was created by the Nazi German regime and those established my Islamic extremists. Images of Mufti Haj Amin al-Husseini saluting Nazi troops were compared to contemporary images of Iranian and Hezbollah fighters raising their hands in the Nazi salute.
Darwish and Ayyad both show that when Arab people stand up to extremism, not only does it benefit Jews and Christians, but also the Arabs themselves. As night fell over Mount Scopus, I looked eastward over the villages covering the Judean Desert. Each village had a number of minarets towering over the humble residences, raising the question, how many of these mosques are moderate, and how many are truly extremist, and committed to building a culture of hate?