British-born Muslim compares KKK rallies in US to anti-Israel protests
In the recent Global Forum for Combating Anti-Semitism held this week in Jerusalem, Palestinian Media Watch director, Itamar Marcus and Dr. Boaz Ganor organized a panel discussion with Muslim activists actively rejecting hate rhetoric. Two of the panel speakers included Kasim Hafeez, a British Muslim who runs The Israel Campaign and Rev. Majed El Shafie, a human rights advocate originally from Egypt.
“When people say that anti-Semitism exists in the Muslim world because of Israel, that is simply an excuse,” says Kasim Hafeez, born in Britain to a Pakistani Muslim family.
“People here (in Israel) get Islamic anti-Semitism. In Europe, we deny it,” Hafeez expounded.
“As a university student, I would attend radical anti-Israel rallies in Trafalgar Square. Here I am standing in London in the middle of a European capital – chanting ‘death to Israel’ and nothing was ever done.”
He compares those rallies with the Ku Klux Klan. “An Al-Quds Day rally in London is equivalent to a KKK rally in the US,” he stressed.
Hafeez told Tazpit News Agency that he began to change his thinking when he read A Case for Israel, by Alan Dershowitz. Hafeez explains that he read the book in order to learn how to further deconstruct Zionist propaganda. “But I began to see that I could no longer support my convictions because I had no answers to the arguments that were made for Israel,” he explains.
“I found that the radical Islamic doctrine that I grew up with and my own belief in violent jihad could no longer support the truth I once believed in.”
That realization prompted Hafeez to visit Israel. “I kind of hoped that the visit to Israel would be a negative experience, that it would enable me to go back to my former beliefs,” he told Tazpit News Agency.
But the visit was eye-opening for Hafeez, who says he fell in love with Israel during his first trip. “It’s hard not to support Israel,” says the soft-spoken Hafeez, who recently participated in the Jerusalem Marathon. “I encountered Israelis who weren’t anti-Arab, or anti-Islam and saw that this wasn’t some apartheid state.”
However, coming out in support of Israel hasn’t been easy. Hafeez has become isolated from his friends. “It’s a lot of hassle – it really disrupts your life when you become vocal and open about your support for the Jewish state.”
“What people don’t understand, is that it doesn’t matter if you bend over backwards for radical Islamists. If you are Jewish, they will hate you no matter what,” Hafeez said.