Wednesday, June 21, 2017

A Humanitarian Travesty in Gaza

Video of the week-  Media, Murder and Israel -

For the full article go to -

By Evelyn Gordon 14-6-2017

Gaza’s worsening electricity crisis provides a textbook example of why many so-called human-rights organizations no longer deserve to be taken seriously. The crisis stems entirely from an internal dispute between the Palestinians’ two rival governments, and since it can’t be blamed on Israel, most major rights groups have ignored it, preferring to focus instead on such truly pressing issues as—this is not a joke—playing soccer in the settlements. But the exceptions to this rule are even worse: They’re the ones so untroubled by facts that they’ve actually found a way to blame Israel for a problem entirely of the Palestinians’ own making.

A brief recap: Back in April, Gaza ran out of fuel for its only power plant because neither the Fatah-run Palestinian Authority nor Gaza’s Hamas-run government—both of which have plenty of money to spend on fomenting anti-Israel terror—would agree to pay for it. The argument focuses specifically on a tax the PA imposed on the fuel, which Hamas won’t pay but the PA won’t lower. The fuel shortage slashed Gaza’s power supply to about four hours a day.

That same month, the PA announced it would stop paying for 40 percent of the electricity Israel sends Gaza via high-voltage wires, and Hamas naturally refused to take over the payments. Israel continued providing the power anyway for about six weeks, but this week, it finally decided to stop giving Hamas free electricity. That will reduce Gaza’s power supply to three hours a day or less.

The power shortage is creating a worse humanitarian crisis in Gaza than Israel’s partial blockade ever did, yet neither Amnesty nor Human Rights Watch—both of which issued countless statements about the blockade—has published a single press release about the electricity crisis. Astoundingly, however, HRW did find time to issue no fewer than three press statements in May blasting the international soccer association’s refusal to take action against Israel over six soccer teams in the settlements. Apparently, playing soccer in a settlement is a much more serious humanitarian problem than being without power 20 hours a day.

But the Israeli organization Gisha—the Legal Center for Freedom of Movement—adopted an even more dishonest tack in an op-ed published in Haaretz last week (before Israel decided to stop giving Gaza free electricity). Field worker Mohammed Azaizeh provided heart-rending descriptions of the problems Rantisi Children’s Hospital faces due to the power crisis, but was curiously reticent about the cause: He said only that the power plant stopped operating “due to a political conflict,” without ever identifying the parties to the conflict.

He also noted that Gaza’s hospitals are severely short of medicine and medical equipment, but again offered no explanation, not even the lame excuse of an unspecified “political conflict.” Yet in fact, the same political conflict is at fault: In May, the PA stopped paying for Gaza’s medicine, and Hamas refuses to do so itself, so Gaza’s medical stocks are rapidly being depleted.

Only toward the end did Azaizeh finger an actual villain:

Even transferring equipment from Israel that was bought in advance especially for Rantisi is a challenge: Four months have passed since the renovation of the oncology department, with the help of monetary assistance from an American foundation, and they’re still waiting here for essential parts for the air conditioning system. The entry of the parts and equipment into Gaza is being delayed because Israel decided to label them “dual-use” items.

Let’s ignore the fact that this particular lack is irrelevant to Rantisi’s woes, since a hospital Azaizeh described as lacking enough power to keep its lights on certainly doesn’t have enough to run its air conditioners, with or without parts. The key sentence is the clever segue between the paragraph about the lack of medical equipment and the one about the lack of air conditioning: Not only is medical equipment lacking, but “Even transferring equipment from Israel that was bought in advance especially for Rantisi is a challenge.”

Thus without actually saying so, Azaizeh managed to imply that the shortage of medical equipment also stems from Israeli restrictions. And from there, it’s an easy step to concluding that the unspecified “political conflict” behind the power crisis must also involve Israel. In reality, of course, Israel has never interfered with shipments of either fuel or medicine to Gaza, though it has barred dual-use items that aren’t humanitarian necessities.

A human-rights organization that actually cared about Gaza’s humanitarian crisis would name and shame the responsible parties—Fatah and Hamas—in an effort to pressure them to compromise, or at least make clear that the crisis stems from nonpayment and urge international donors to cover the shortfall. Yet Azaizeh’s op-ed makes no effort to address the causes of the crisis; its sole purpose is to smear Israel.


Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Gaza marks unhappy anniversary - 10 years under Hamas rule

Video of the week A Muslim speaks out against Hamas;

By JPost Editorial; June 11, 2017 

This week is the 10th anniversary of the bloody Hamas coup that enabled the creation of an Islamist, terrorist quasi- state on Israel’s southern border.

Now that the Six Day War jubilee commemorations are over, it is time to mark another event that is integrally linked to that historic victory’s aftermath.

This week is the 10th anniversary of the bloody Hamas coup that enabled the creation of an Islamist, terrorist quasi- state on Israel’s southern border. It is an anniversary that few Gazans can celebrate.

On June 10, 2007, fighting between Hamas and Fatah began. Within days, Fatah had lost control of the Strip and Ismail Haniyeh became the effective leader of a new terrorist state in the Middle East.

Since those five days of Palestinian civil war resulted in the separation of the Fatah-ruled Palestinian Authority in the West Bank from the Hamas regime of Gaza, Hamas has forced its people to suffer several destructive wars with Israel. It continues to prepare for another conflict in the deluded hope of vanquishing the IDF.
It had alternatives. When Israel pulled out of Gaza in 2005 it left behind millions of dollars’ worth of hothouses that could have been used to grow produce. Instead they were used to grow rockets and roadside bombs and to hide entrances to cross-border attack tunnels into Israel.

Due to this continued focus on terrorism, Hamas has succeeded in achieving the highest unemployment rate in the world for a population that has electricity for only a few hours a day and lacks a regular supply of drinking water.

Hamas has used its 10-year rule to turn Gaza into the very prison camp its supporters accuse Israel of running.

Instead of using the foreign aid funds that support its rule to build homes to replace those destroyed in the 2014 war it provoked with Israel, the terrorist leadership diverts essential construction materials to rebuilding its network of attack tunnels for another pointless round, in an apparent attempt to divert public attention from its abuse of power.

Hamas is essentially holding its own people hostage, preventing an improvement of their lives by deciding to dedicate its resources and attention to destroying the Jewish state instead of to the prosperity of its people.

Israel, for its part, has warned the UN that Gaza is on the brink of either a water or an electricity crisis – or both.

The Independent reported recently that Maj.-Gen. Yoav Mordechai, the IDF coordinator of government activities in the Palestinian territories, sent letters to the UN’s envoy for the Middle East peace process and others urging action to prevent the situation for civilians from deteriorating further. It was the second warning he issued in six months.

“Instead of worrying about the welfare of residents, Hamas is harming them and making it difficult for the international organization that worked hard to supply drinking water,” he wrote.

“Hamas must immediately provide needed electricity to operate the desalination plant for the good of residents, but instead the terrorist organization has chosen to send electricity to its terror tunnels and the homes of its leaders.”

Nevertheless, Israel continues to transfer hundreds of truckloads of supplies into Gaza daily even though it shouldn’t have to. Gaza shares a border with Egypt which should take responsibility for the Palestinians. The problem is that Cairo doesn’t want that headache.

An important indication that Hamas maintains its commitment to its declared goal of destroying Israel was the recent appointment of hard-core terrorist Yahya Sinwar as the Hamas warlord. A veteran of more than 20 years in Israeli prisons, Sinwar is a harsh enforcer of loyalty within the group and an unstinting enemy of Israel.

A decade after seizing Gaza, Hamas is a complete failure on all accounts. It doesn’t provide for its people and it doesn’t succeed in its sworn mission to destroy Israel.

Israel should not expect a change anytime soon. While it recently issued a revised policy document, it did not amend its charter: Hamas remains committed to Israel’s destruction.

What should change is the Arab world’s attitude toward Gaza. For the last 10 years, Arab states have stayed away from Gaza due to its volatility and an understanding that there is no good outcome there on the horizon.

Nevertheless, if they really care for the Palestinians and genuinely want to see a peace deal with Israel, they can start by working on changing Gaza. It’s been 10 years. We hope it’s not too late.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Was the 6 Day War Unprovoked??

Video of the week:The 6 Days War Explained - In Animation -

"Israel's military strike in 1967 was unprovoked."

A combination of bellicose Arab rhetoric, threatening behavior and, ultimately, an act of war left Israel no choice but preemptive action. To do this successfully, Israel needed the element of surprise. Had it waited for an Arab invasion, Israel would have been at a potentially catastrophic disadvantage.

While Nasser continued to make speeches threatening war, Arab terrorist attacks grew more frequent. In 1965, 35 raids were conducted against Israel. In 1966, the number increased to 41. In just the first four months of 1967, 37 attacks were launched.

Meanwhile, Syria's attacks on Israeli kibbutzim from the Golan Heights provoked a retaliatory strike on April 7, 1967, during which Israeli planes shot down six Syrian MiGs. Shortly thereafter, the Soviet Union — which had been providing military and economic aid to both Syria and Egypt — gave Damascus information alleging a massive Israeli military buildup in preparation for an attack. Despite Israeli denials, Syria decided to invoke its defense treaty with Egypt.

On May 15, Israel's Independence Day, Egyptian troops began moving into the Sinai and massing near the Israeli border. By May 18, Syrian troops were prepared for battle along the Golan Heights.

Nasser ordered the UN Emergency Force, stationed in the Sinai since 1956, to withdraw on May 16. Without bringing the matter to the attention of the General Assembly, as his predecessor had promised, Secretary-General U Thant complied with the demand. After the withdrawal of the UNEF, the Voice of the Arabs proclaimed (May 18, 1967):

As of today, there no longer exists an international emergency force to protect Israel. We shall exercise patience no more. We shall not complain any more to the UN about Israel. The sole method we shall apply against Israel is total war, which will result in the extermination of Zionist existence.

An enthusiastic echo was heard May 20 from Syrian Defense Minister Hafez Assad:

Our forces are now entirely ready not only to repulse the aggression, but to initiate the act of liberation itself, and to explode the Zionist presence in the Arab homeland. The Syrian army, with its finger on the trigger, is united....I, as a military man, believe that the time has come to enter into a battle of annihilation.

On May 22, Egypt closed the Straits of Tiran to all Israeli shipping and all ships bound for Eilat. This blockade cut off Israel's only supply route with Asia and stopped the flow of oil from its main supplier, Iran. The following day, President Johnson expressed the belief that the blockade was illegal and unsuccessfully tried to organize an international flotilla to test it.

Nasser was fully aware of the pressure he was exerting to force Israel's hand. The day after the blockade was set up, he said defiantly: "The Jews threaten to make war. I reply: Welcome! We are ready for war."

Nasser challenged Israel to fight almost daily. "Our basic objective will be the destruction of Israel. The Arab people want to fight," he said on May 27. The following day, he added: "We will not accept any...coexistence with Israel...Today the issue is not the establishment of peace between the Arab states and Israel....The war with Israel is in effect since 1948."

King Hussein of Jordan signed a defense pact with Egypt on May 30. Nasser then announced:
The armies of Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon are poised on the borders of face the challenge, while standing behind us are the armies of Iraq, Algeria, Kuwait, Sudan and the whole Arab nation. This act will astound the world. Today they will know that the Arabs are arranged for battle, the critical hour has arrived. We have reached the stage of serious action and not declarations.

President Abdur Rahman Aref of Iraq joined in the war of words: "The existence of Israel is an error which must be rectified. This is our opportunity to wipe out the ignominy which has been with us since 1948. Our goal is clear -- to wipe Israel off the map." On June 4, Iraq joined the military alliance with Egypt, Jordan and Syria.

The Arab rhetoric was matched by the mobilization of Arab forces. Approximately 250,000 troops (nearly half in Sinai), more than 2,000 tanks and 700 aircraft ringed Israel.

By this time, Israeli forces had been on alert for three weeks. The country could not remain fully mobilized indefinitely, nor could it allow its sea lane through the Gulf of Aqaba to be interdicted. Israel's best option was to strike first.On June 5, the order was given to attack Egypt.


Thursday, June 1, 2017

50 Jerusalem facts for the 50 years of reunification

Video of the week -The 50th anniversary of reunification of Jerusalem -

By Eliana Rudee, Jewish News Service (JNC) 16-5-2017
For the full article go to-

Israelis celebrate the 50th anniversary of Jerusalem’s reunification May 23-24. Leading up to the holy city’s semi-centennial milestone, here are 50 facts highlighting the rich tapestry of Israel’s capital:

1. Jerusalem Day is an Israeli national holiday commemorating the reunification of Jerusalem in the 1967 Six-Day War.

2. During the Jordanian occupation of Jerusalem, Jews were not allowed to access their holy sites, including the Western Wall.

3. Jerusalem has been attacked 52 times, captured and recaptured 44 times, besieged 23 times and destroyed twice over the course of 3,000 years.

4. Israel is the only country to enter the 21st century with a net gain in its number of trees, and you can enjoy them over a picnic or barbecue in the Jerusalem Forest.

5. The name “Jerusalem” most likely comes from “Urusalim,” a word of Semitic origin meaning “Foundation of Shalem (wholeness)” or “Foundation of God.”

6. Jerusalem has more synagogues per capita than any city in the world.

7. Jerusalem is the only city in which some 15 different Christian communities live alongside one another, according to the Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies.

8. Jerusalem is considered the eternal capital of the Jewish people.

9. Jerusalem is the third-holiest city in Islam, outside of Mecca and Medina, both in Saudi Arabia.

10. Jerusalem is mentioned more than 600 times in the Hebrew Bible, but not once in Islam’s Quran.

11. In the Middle Ages, Jews were banned from Jerusalem by Christians, and Muslims later lifted the ban.

12. There are more than 70 different Hebrew names for Jerusalem in Jewish scripture.

13. Jerusalem is statistically safer than nearly most large U.S. cities and many major cities elsewhere in the world.

14. Jerusalem hotels record more than 2.5 million overnight stays by foreign tourists each year.

15. Thirty-thousand people ran in this year’s Jerusalem Marathon.

Holy sites
16. Jerusalem’s Mount of Olives is home to 150,000 Jewish graves, dating back to the 1400s.

17. Under Israeli rule, Jews are not allowed to pray on the Temple Mount, their religion’s holiest site.

18. The Old City of Jerusalem is divided into the Muslim Quarter, Christian Quarter, Jewish Quarter and Armenian Quarter.

19. The Dome of the Rock is not a mosque, but an Islamic shrine located on the Temple Mount.

20. Although all branches of the Israeli government are headquartered in Jerusalem, the city is not home to any foreign embassies. President Donald Trump is considering moving the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

21. The 2.5-mile-long walls around Jerusalem’s Old City were built in 1536 by Suleiman the Magnificent.

22. Jerusalem has more than 2,000 archaeological sites.

23. Archaeology proves Jews have lived in Jerusalem since 3000 B.C.

24. Archaeologists have found 3,800-year-old pottery in the City of David.

25. Jerusalem has separate educational and religious systems for its Christian, Muslim and Jewish populations.

26. Jerusalem has one of the highest-rated nightclubs in the world: Haoman 17.

27. There are 26 wineries in Jerusalem, according to United with Israel.
28. Bob Dylan held his eldest son Jesse’s bar mitzvah at the Western Wall.

29. The actress Natalie Portman was born in Jerusalem.

30. Jerusalem is Israel’s largest city in both landmass and population.

31. Jerusalem’s population is comprised of 61 percent Jews, 36 percent Muslims, 1 percent Arab Christians and 1 percent non-Arab Christians.

32. While the country’s self-identified “secular” Jewish population is 44 percent, Jerusalem’s secular Jewish population is just 19 percent.

33. Of Jerusalem’s Muslim population, 62 percent identify as religious and just 1 percent identify as not observant.

34. Jerusalem has had a Jewish demographic majority since 1864.
35. Jerusalem represents about 0.001 percent of the landmass of the Middle East.

36. Eighteen percent of Israel’s Arab population lives in Jerusalem, compared to 8 percent of Israel’s total Jewish population.

37. Eleven percent of Jerusalem homeowners are foreign residents, compared to 3 percent in Israel at large.

38. Thirty-four percent of Jerusalem’s Jews identify as haredi.

39. Nearly 37 percent of all Jerusalem families live below the poverty line, which represents 61 percent of all Jerusalem’s children.

40. Jerusalem is home to more than 400 high-tech companies.

41. The number of high-tech start-ups in Jerusalem has grown from 200 to more than 600 since 2012.

42. Fourteen percent of the Jerusalem workforce is self-employed.

43. Arab families in Jerusalem are almost three times as likely to live below the poverty line compared to Jewish families in Jerusalem. This is attributed to a large difference in number of years in education.

44. Seventy-nine percent of Jewish women in Jerusalem work, compared to 70 percent of Jewish men.

45. Women in Jerusalem earn 25 percent less income than the average man, compared to 46 percent less in Tel Aviv.

46. The Jerusalem-founded company Mobileye, bought by Intel this year, was part of the largest-ever acquisition of an Israeli technology company.

Immigration and migration
47. This year, a noticeably high proportion (almost 50 percent) of newcomers to Jerusalem were 20-34 years old.

48. Of those who move to Jerusalem, 38 percent come from Beit Shemesh and Tel Aviv.

49. Brazilian immigration to Jerusalem tripled during the past year.

50. The new immigrant population of Jerusalem—those arriving in the past 20 years—represents about 13 percent of the city’s Jewish population.


Wednesday, May 24, 2017

1967 and the myth of Palestinian victimization

Video of the week: A PALESTINIAN MYTH - The so called NAKBA -

In the weeks of tension before the Six Day War, Israel’s struggle for survival was seen around the world as a contest between good and evil. The threats to “push the Jews into the sea,” were widely reported, as were the military preparations and sudden departure of UN peacekeepers. Israel was still the plucky David of 1948, ominously threatened by the Arab Goliath. Although the PLO – the Palestine Liberation Organization – was created in 1964, the Palestinians received little attention. In this environment, Israel’s success was widely applauded, particularly in the West.

But gradually, the images began to change as the Arabs used their oil power and threats of terrorism to gain allies and market anti-Israel campaigns in Europe. In France, the elite’s support for Israel waned before 1967, based on a cold calculation of economic interests, and in Britain, a mix of Arabist romanticism and antisemitism gained influence.
In North America, avant garde intellectuals switched support to the newly minted Palestinian cause.

Under Yasser Arafat, PLO airplane hijackings and mass terrorism such as the 1972 Munich Olympic massacre put the “plight of the Palestinians” high on the priority list, and the Arab oil embargo that accompanied the 1973 Yom Kippur War reinforced this process. Support for Israel became a liability, but rather than admitting that this was due to weakness and fear, political officials and diplomats blamed the post-1967 “occupation.”
Israel suddenly became the dominant power, and was automatically pronounced guilty (without much of a trial) for the failure to end the conflict. In 1980, Europe officially promoted Palestinian independence as a magic solution to the conflict, and condemned “Israeli settlements” as the “primary obstacle to the peace process,” while terrorism and incitement were hidden under the diplomatic, journalistic and academic carpets.

This language and the policies behind it have not changed in 37 years.

But for Palestinian leaders, settlements and the absence of a Palestinian state next to Israel were not the main issues; Arafat told anyone who would listen that “the goal of our struggle is the end of Israel, and there can be no compromise or mediations. We don’t want peace, we want victory. Peace for us means Israel’s destruction and nothing else.” (Cited in The Washington Post, March 29, 1970.) In the United Nations, which was still taken seriously at that time, the Arabs were joined by the Soviet Union, which combined Cold War competition with crude antisemitism.

Bodies such as the UN Commission on Human Rights (now a council) were turned into platforms for Israel-bashing – in part for its own sake, and also to turn attention away from the dictatorships. As one official noted, it was much easier to “support a condemnation of Israel for reprisals against Arab sabotage” than to deal with real abuses.

UNRWA, created in 1948 ostensibly to help war refugees, remains a permanent source of propaganda and hate, and in 1975, the UN General Assembly adopted the infamous “Zionism is racism” resolution. The Division for Palestinian Rights was created and funded to orchestrate a traveling road show known as the Committee for the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, to promote the mythology in Jakarta, Beijing, Brussels and elsewhere.

Into this propaganda mix powerful human rights organizations, such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, began promoting the myths of Palestinian victimization and Israeli “violations of international law.” Mass producing condemnations of Israeli “occupation” while erasing the images of Palestinian terrorism and its victims, they rewrote the history of the conflict as well as the reality on the ground. A generation of journalists, political officials, and other “elite opinion makers” were indoctrinated into accepting this narrative without question. In this environment, the transition to boycott campaigns and other forms of demonization was simple.

Among Israelis, the gap between our understanding of history and the way it was portrayed elsewhere was largely ignored, allowing the damage to fester and grow. When politicians finally recognized the implications of the “narrative war,” many of the responses, including the recent legislation to ban leading foreign boycott activists, were heavy-handed and counterproductive.

As the 50-year anniversary of the 1967 war approaches, the myths of Palestinian victimization and Israeli guilt will resonate widely in the UN, college campuses and media platforms.

The challenge is to expose these slogans, and restore at least some connection to reality. But whether this will actually happen depends on how we package our messaging.

The days of David vs. Goliath and the image of Israel as a country threatened with imminent destruction are long gone.


Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Palestinians: The Secret West Bank

Video of the week- Israeli Clowns Cheer Up Syrian Refugees-

by Bassam Tawil  •  April 26, 2017
  • As Abbas and his advisors prepare for the May 3 meeting with Trump, thousands of Palestinians gathered in Ramallah to call on Arab armies to "liberate Palestine, from the (Jordan) river to the (Mediterranean) sea." The Palestinians also called for replacing Israel with an Islamic Caliphate.
  • It is possible that deep inside, Abbas and many of his top aides identify with the goals of Hizb ut Tahrir, namely the elimination of Israel. Abbas also wishes to use these Islamic extremists to depict himself as the "good guy" versus the "bad guys." This is a ploy intended to dupe Westerners into giving him more funds "out of fear that the Islamists may take over."
  • Abbas's claim that he seeks a just and comprehensive peace with Israel is refuted by fact after fact on the ground. His sweet-talk about peace and the two-state solution will have far less impact on Palestinians than the voices of Hizb ut Tahrir and its sister groups, which strive to "liberate Palestine, from the river to the sea."

Westerners often refer to Ramallah as a modern and liberal city dominated by Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah faction. The city boasts fancy restaurants and bars where alcohol is served freely to men and women in Western dress, who sit together to eat and to smoke water pipes (nargilas).

But the scenes on the streets of Ramallah, headquarters of Abbas's Palestinian Authority (PA) last week broadcast a rather different message -- one that calls for the elimination of Israel. The message came on the eve of Abbas's visit to the White House for his first meeting with US President Donald Trump.
According to PA officials, Abbas is scheduled to affirm during the meeting with Trump his commitment to the two-state solution and a "comprehensive and just peace" with Israel.


Wednesday, May 10, 2017


Video of the week-Yahya Mahamed's Israel Story -

JPost., by SHOSHANNA KEATS-JASKOLL April 25, 2017

 Sometimes we are privileged to meet rare and inspiring people, people whose life experiences are so different from our own that hearing about them provides us with a new understanding of the human spirit, a new way to see things, and a new way to think.

Yahya Mahamed is one such person. Tall, dark and slim, the first thing one notices about him is his smile.

It’s sincere and disarming and immediately evokes the feeling that a friend has been found. As his story unfolds, it becomes clear that behind those dimples is a young man of courage, humor, intelligence and a tremendous heart.

Metro sat with Mahamed at the Jerusalem office of StandWithUs, an NGO dedicated to educating people around the world about Israel. This is his story.

“I grew up in Umm el-Fahm, the third-largest Arab city in Israel. It’s a very problematic place. The Islamic Movement runs the municipality. This means they have power over everything: schools, services, who gets hired... and they are very anti-Israel. ISIS logos and swastikas are common,” he says.

“When they came in 30 years ago, they took over the city. They outlawed alcohol and made it policy to prevent people from prospering. They don’t take care of the city; they don’t pave the streets, fix the playgrounds or make youth centers. We went without a public library for six years...

“When people ask for the things that cities are meant to have, the municipality blames
Israel. They say that Israel charges them so much that they cannot get things done.

“And yet, somehow within days of collecting taxes, city officials have new cars. It’s a closed circle that feeds on itself; a steady diet of corruption, lack of municipal services, and anti-Israel indoctrination. They are sabotaging the city and blaming Israel for it in order to keep the locals isolated and dependent.
“Violence is the norm in Umm el-Fahm,” he continues.

“Bullets are shot into the air, and several people have been hit by them. The police aren’t where they need to be. If they were, it would greatly improve quality of life and safety for the city.” It would also help dispel the accepted view that the job of the police is to oppress the residents, he adds.

Mahamed was raised to perceive Israel as an oppressive, evil regime. “I remember being a child and watching television with my mother. The only thing on was Palestine, Israel oppressing Palestine, Israelis killing Arabs, Arabs killing Israelis. Nothing else. My whole world was the conflict; in school, on TV, in the community. I was an Arab and therefore a Palestinian."

“I recall at one point traveling to the West Bank to see family. I noticed that we had different ID cards than they did. That was the first time I actually realized that I was Israeli,” he says.

“You see, as a child, I was given this illusion: either Israel or Palestine, but not both. Israel only existed because it took land from the Palestinians. We were given no Jewish history. I wasn’t given an education, I was given propaganda. I was taught in school that Hitler did a good thing and left a small group of Jews alive so that the world would know why he killed the rest.

“The problem in Umm el-Fahm is that there is no one to give an alternative
viewpoint. For the past 30 years, this narrative has reigned. And it is sacred... Until 2011, I was very anti-Israel.”

He pauses. “Nobody is really anti-Israel, it’s just that they aren’t able to think. They haven’t been allowed to think.” The mosques, he says, are used to disseminate a political agenda. In the mosques on Fridays, one hears about ISIS.

When asked how he became a Muslim Zionist, he says, “I got out. I was in a pre-army program learning to be an automobile mechanic.
As Arabs, we don’t have to go to the army, but the state provides these programs in high school for us. One day, I passed by a map of the world on the wall and tried to find my country. But it wasn’t there. Palestine was written across the entire area – in my Israeli school. I thought, wait a minute, that’s not correct. Even though I identified with the idea... it just wasn’t true. I told my friend whose father is a state inspector and two days later it was down.”
His dimples flash as he smiles. “I guess that was the unintentional beginning of my Israeli activism.”
In 12th grade, Mahamed began searching for a job.

Because he hadn’t been given much English or Hebrew language instruction, his options were limited.

“They [Islamic Movement] do this on purpose to make you unable to communicate and it works like magic,” he says.

He found work as a busboy in a Tel Aviv hotel, but admits he was afraid to go, frightened by the things he had been told about how Jews would treat him. His fears were soon assuaged when the manager took him under his wing, teaching him what he needed to know and befriending him.

“During my first week, just before Succot, I was waiting for the bus... A Chabadnik comes up to me and starts passionately telling me how important it is to shake the lulav [palm branch], and I’m smiling and letting him go on and when he’s done, I tell him, you know, I’m not Jewish. He looked a bit sad, but then he said, ‘It doesn’t matter if you’re Jewish or not; what matters is that you are a good person.’ And that made me think the whole way to Umm el-Fahm.

“I had made a friend in the hotel manager; the Jews at the hotel were very welcoming and accepting; and now this Chabadnik tells me it doesn’t matter if I’m a Jew, so long as I am a good person. My experiences directly contradicted everything I had learned my whole life. I’d been told that Jews think they are God’s chosen people and better than everyone else. But bit by bit, I realized that what I had been taught simply wasn’t true.”

One summer morning in 2014 brought news that would change Mahamed’s life: three Israeli Jewish teenagers had been kidnapped by Hamas. “I freaked out,” he recalls.

“I started thinking about my friends and how it could have been them. In truth, it could have been me, because it doesn’t matter Arab or Jew, we are all Israelis. I went online and searched for information.

I found a campaign called Bring Back Our Boys and I participated, posting a picture of myself with an Israeli flag. That’s when all hell broke loose.”

Mahamed got a call from a shop owner in Umm el- Fahm who told him to go to the police because people were talking about him and it sounded very dangerous.

His post had gone viral and among his 400 Facebook notifications were numerous death threats.

“I had to quit my job; I stayed in the house for two months; I missed my high school graduation.”

It took a while for the police to get involved, but eventually eight people were arrested for making death threats against Yahya. To this day, he relies on a car to get around because it isn’t safe for him to walk or take public transportation in Umm el-Fahm.

MAHAMED MAKES a point of saying that there are many Arabs who have gone through a similar process of encountering Jews, realizing that what they had been told about them and Israel is not true, and then choosing to leave their communities as a result.

“You have to get out of the Arab mentality and understand that you are Israeli. If you can get out of the mentality of ‘I’m an Arab which means I am a Palestinian,’ that conflict mentality of either/or, then you’ve made it to the safe zone.

“People aren’t haters,” he explains, “they are just crippled in their way of thinking.”

People often try to “help me do teshuva,” he says. For example, on a day commemorating the 1956 Kafr Kasim massacre, when residents of Kafr Kasim, who were working in their fields and unaware of a curfew, were shot dead by IDF soldiers, his friend Bassam asked him how he could support Israel. Yahya acknowledged that what had happened in Kafr Kasim was wrong and asked Bassam if he also commemorates the Hebron massacre.

“‘What massacre?’” asked Bassam. “I sent him a link to a Wikipedia article and didn’t see him for three weeks. When I saw him next, he had changed. He had read the article I sent, and then another, and another. He read about Jewish history back to the Roman conquest. He was livid that he had never learned this stuff. Since then, he’s left Umm el-Fahm and is now pro-Israel.”

When asked if he also wants to leave Umm el-Fahm, Mahamed says that although it’s not easy to stay, he doesn’t want to go. “Things are messed up, but we can fix them. If every thinking individual left and went to Tel Aviv, who would bring Tel Aviv to Umm el-Fahm? “I clean the hate – literally. I remove the ISIS graffiti, the swastikas, because they normalize terror and hate. We need to take away the hate,” he says.

“I’m paving new roads there. People ask me about dead babies in Gaza. They don’t expect me to say, ‘Yes, that happened, but did you know that five minutes earlier Hamas sent a rocket from there?’ They are surprised.

They never accept what I say the first time, but it plants a seed, and that seed will grow.”

When StandWithUs first contacted Mahamed via Facebook, he was hesitant to join the organization until he learned that its website has an Arabic page and that it also reaches out to Arabs. Then he decided to join their efforts and has been an educator there since 2016.

When asked why he chooses to advocate for Israel, Mahamed says, “I’m Israeli. I like it here. Here we enjoy full rights. I believe that Israel doesn’t only hold hope for the Jewish people, it holds hope for the entire Middle East.”

Yahya has had speaking engagements in Finland for Limmud (Jewish learning festival), in Texas with the B’nai Brith youth organization, and, most recently, in South Africa for Israel Apartheid Week.

“In the US, you know what to expect from BDS [Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement].

They come at you with images of dead children, they yell. South Africa is a whole other story. We went with the South African Union of Jewish Students, who had made an agreement with the campus that this year half of the piazza would be for BDS and half for us. But when we showed up, BDS had taken the entire piazza. They were stealing our materials and ripping our posters. We wound up in a physical fight with them. We expected them to be difficult, but this was another level.

“South Africa is the BDS movement’s stronghold. They use the terms ‘apartheid’ and ‘racism’ to play on people’s emotions and get an immediate response. Then they flood them with lies.

“It’s nuts,” he says. “People came to me after being on the BDS side saying, ‘Why does the IDF rape Palestinian women?’ I say, ‘Wait, wait. I’ve heard of house demolitions, arrests, checkpoints, but rape? Rape isn’t common between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian women, I am familiar with COGAT’s [Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories] numbers and I follow Palestinian news sources, and I’ve never of an incident like that. Where do you get this stuff?’ I had a checklist, baby killing, yup, rape, oh wait, that’s a new one, and I’d write it down.

“Then they speak about Gaza as the most densely populated place in the world,” he continues, “and I’m like, don’t take my word for it, go to Google maps and see the empty fields for yourself. SAUJS’s [South African Union of Jewish Students] campaign was called See Israel for Yourself and it was incredible. We say, ‘Don’t listen to us, maybe we are biased. Don’t listen to them, they are dangerous. Go read for yourself,’” he says.

“People were fascinated that I was there as an Israeli Arab – my being there had a huge impact. The BDS people gave short bursts of heavy propaganda. We would spend 45 minutes with people answering their questions.”

Mahamed pulls out a video of South African students thanking his team for being a safe place on campus where they could ask questions and get answers, and where they were encouraged to think for themselves.

They expressed anger at being lied to and say they now support Israel.

When asked what he feels the solution is, Mahamed just smiles. “We don’t offer solutions, we educate. We don’t want to indoctrinate – that’s what the other side does. We just want people to think.”

Right before press time, Mahamed updated Metro on recent difficult developments. A video he had done for StandWithUs was picked up by local Arabic news sources. They spread it around, adding false claims that Mahamed had been taught English by SWU, that he is paid by the government and other lies, including incitement against him. Within a few hours, the police contacted him and advised him to file a report with the Umm el-Fahm police and to leave the city for a while.

The police are investigating, and Mahamed has moved to Jerusalem. It has been a stressful few days, he says, but as always he is staying positive.