- On April 9th I attended From Hate to Hope with Kasim Hafeez at the University of Memphis. Kasim Hafeez is a man who was born to Pakistani Muslim parents in the U.K. He was raised to hate the state of Israel and seek its destruction. By the time he entered college he was fully radicalized and intent on destroying Israel. However, one day Kasim picked up the book The Case for Israel by Alan Dershowitz and decided to read it in order to deconstruct the other side’s arguments. Little did he know that he would finish the book rethinking his own arguments. He then decided to go to Israel to see for himself how terrible and oppressive it was so that he could once and for all do away with the side of him telling him that he had been wrong his entire life. After visiting Israel and seeing how it is truly the freest, most democratic state in the war-torn Middle East, he has now spent his time speaking to college students across the world about the greatness of Israel.
Kasim spoke about how denying history and the Jewish people’s claim to Israel is a denial of facts and that many anti-Israel groups deny Israel’s sovereignty knowing that the Jewish people have been ripped off their geographic heritage for thousands of years. It was interesting to hear him speak about how Hamas has done more to hurt the Palestinian people than Israel has ever and will ever do. He said only in Israel can one go out in the street and protest government actions, dine with people of all faiths, or express romantic love for the same sex.
It is sad to see so many people claim to be for human rights yet vote for a group who spends millions of dollars on underground tunnels in order to blow up land in Israel over providing roads, schools, healthcare and basic living commodities for its citizens. It is sad to see Hamas soldiers imbed themselves in a peaceful protest to instigate the IDF. It is sad to see women and children be used as shields and young men get paid to be shot by the IDF. Yet somehow Israel is still the most condemned state by the United Nations. Somehow Israel is the root of all terror in the Middle East; not Hamas or Iran or any of the hundreds of other terrorist groups. Unfortunately this anti-Israel sentiment has become a fad in the United States as there are now Israeli-apartheid Awareness weeks on college campuses across the country, which are an insult to the men, women and children of apartheid South Africa. How is it now fashionable to steal the suffering of another group to push your violent agenda? It is beyond me, but the facts do not matter to the anti-Israeli activists. Which is why I am upset that there were none of these people in attendance to counter Kasim’s claims. Nobody showed up to dialogue with a man who was raised to destroy Israel and yet somehow turned his entire life around when he saw the land for himself. How can we have a constructive conversation about a pathway to peace if the other side won’t even talk? That is an answer I am still waiting for.