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Facts and Logic About the Middle East

February 2, 2016

In the Search for Moderate Muslims, Twinkles of Hope

Dear Friend of FLAME:

While President Obama tells us that Islam is a peace-loving religion and that the mosque-going Muslims who commit terrorist murder in Syria, Israel and San Bernardino are not really Muslims, I've been keeping an eye out for evidence to prove his claim.

I've been especially looking for American Muslims who will stand up and condemn the violence of their brethren and speak out for tolerance and pluralism and equal rights for women.

I've also been waiting for some Muslims to speak out in favor of Jews' right to self-determination and their right to Israel—a Jewish state in Palestine.

And, finally, since according to a 2014 ADL study on Arab Muslim attitudes in the Middle East some 77% of this population holds anti-Semitic attitudes, I've been looking for some Muslims willing to roundly condemn those racist beliefs and extol the manifest virtues of the Jews and Jewish culture.

This is not an idle dreamer's hope. Jews are a tiny, tiny minority in the world—we make up less than 0.2% of the world's population. Yes, we are smart, we are strong, we have our own state. But there's no need for us to be stupid. Muslims number 1.6 billion—about 22% of the world's population. It behooves us to make peace—or reach an accommodation—at least with some of them.

No wonder I was heartened by an article that appeared in a local Bay area magazine, Common Ground, titled "A Muslim's Plea," by Zia Rehman. It's worth quoting a few of her remarks.

    "Wherever I turn, Islam is at war—at war with the West, at war with Israel, at war with educating girls. How did we end up declaring war with all of humanity? Where, I ask, does Islam teach us to bomb a plane full of vacationers who are headed home to their families, or kidnap hundreds of girls who are getting an education in school, or kill 130 people who are doing nothing but celebrating life.?"

I'm sure you agree that these sentiments are both refreshing and in painfully short supply from Muslim religious and secular leaders, let alone from "regular" Muslims like Ms. Rehman, who is a Silicon Valley business executive. Rehman concludes her "plea" in part with these words:

    It is not enough to say that radicals like ISIS are not Muslims. Let's do more. Every time we gather to offer prayers, let's preach tolerance and nonviolence. Let's condemn these barbaric acts. Let's be loud and clear that taking even a single life in the name of religion is wrong. Let's celebrate life.

My friends, let us say "amen" to that!

This week's FLAME Hotline featured article provides another encouraging American Muslim perspective, this one specifically on one woman's responses to Israel, based on working for an Israeli company in New York City and making her first few visits to the Jewish state. It's created a sensation on Facebook and deserves your attention.

Testimonies such as these, articulated so publicly—though neither certainly yet in such mainstream media as the New York Times—deserve our appreciation and encouragement. Even more, as pro-Israel advocates we must, among our Muslim acquaintances and in letters to the editor, continue to call for more such Islamic expressions of tolerance, nonviolence and, especially . . . support for Israel. Please take a few minutes to review this short article, below.

In addition, I hope you'll also review the P.S. immediately below, which describes FLAME's hasbarah campaign to explain how the mainstream media unfairly fail to make the obvious connection between Islamist terrorism in France, the U.S. and worldwide with terror attacks in Israel.

Best regards,

Jim Sinkinson
Executive Vice President, Facts and Logic About the Middle East (FLAME)


Just a few months ago, the world was shattered by the attacks against innocent civilians in Paris (and then again in San Bernardino), just as we Israel advocates continue to be unnerved by the so-called "knife intifada" being carried out against innocents in Jerusalem and other parts of Israel. Yet the press has been unable to connect the dots between this tale of three cities. That's why FLAME is now publishing a new position paper in media nationwide—which explains how the Paris terrorists' motivation is precisely the same as that of the terrorists in Israel. I urge you to preview this outspoken hasbarah message today: "Paris. Jerusalem." This hard-hitting paid editorial appears in magazines and newspapers, including college newspapers, with a combined readership of some 10 million people. In addition, it has been sent to every member of the U.S. Congress and President Obama. If you agree that this kind of public relations effort on Israel's behalf is critical, I urge you to support us. Remember: FLAME's powerful ability to influence public opinion comes from individuals like you, one by one. I hope you'll consider giving a donation now, as you're able—with $500, $250, $100, or even $18. (Remember, your donation to FLAME is tax deductible.) To donate online, just go to donate now. Now more than ever we need your support to ensure that Israel gets the support it needs—from the U.S. Congress, from President Obama, and from the American people.

As of today, more than 15,000 Israel supporters receive the FLAME Hotline at no charge every week. If you're not yet a subscriber, won't you join us in receiving these timely updates, so you can more effectively tell the truth about Israel? Just go to free subscription.

An American Muslim Woman Visits Israel: Stop Hating, Start Loving

By Judith Bergman, Israel Hayom, January 22, 2016

A young Muslim woman from New York, Farhana Rahman, who works for an Israeli startup company, has stirred a ‎small storm on Facebook. But for once it is a happy and blessed storm of love and hope for the future.‎

Rahman posted a status from her second visit to Israel and it went viral for its sheer message of ‎overflowing love, gratitude and camaraderie.

‎"When Muslim me visited Israel this time around, the country and her people did indeed forcibly steal ‎precious things away from me: My heart, my soul, my loyalty, my dedication, my essence of being. . . . ‎Muslim me went to the heart of Israel, and exploded—with emotions. Because everyone loved me. ‎Everyone went out of their way to love me. No one could dare say that my online friends in Israel aren't ‎real friends. Because yes they are. It's insulting for me to even refer to them as my friends. It is also ‎insulting for me to refer to them as my family. They are a part of me. My lifeblood. They collectively ‎transformed me into a much better version of myself," she wrote.‎

She also had a word to say about the media: "Everyone of all ages in Israel gave me exceptional, world ‎class treatment. . . . Why am I saying this? To let you know that the people of Israel of all generations love, ‎and love to be loved. And believe me . . . I didn't only see a small handful of people in one town. . . . Don't ‎blindly go by the ridiculous headlines and stories by the media. . . . Take what you hear with a grain of salt, ‎and do your own digging by going straight to the source. And also pay attention to the other side of the ‎story. Apply this with any issue you hear about in mainstream media. Your efforts will unearth all that isn't ‎covered by mainstream media. And that is a lot."‎

And about the status of Muslim women in Israel and the accusations of apartheid: "It's almost crazy ‎how many Muslim women I saw driving, shopping independently, studying, working, and enjoying life in ‎Israel. Freedoms they couldn't even dream of elsewhere in the Mideast. And yes, many of them were all ‎burka'ed out to the nines. Also, it's way safer to walk outside late at night in most parts of Israel, than in ‎N.Y. Because the people are civil and good. If you reply with anything contradictory, I'll simply ignore because ‎that won't be worth my time."‎

"Anyway, I went to businesses run by Jews, and got great customer service. I went to businesses run by ‎Muslims. Also got great service. Customers were mixed everywhere, and everyone got along just fine. ‎Interestingly enough, in both cases, the shop owners/staff weren't able to figure out whether I was a ‎Muslim or Jew. I took that as a compliment. I didn't think it would be possible for me to love Israel and her ‎people more than before. But yep. This trip did it. Does that make me a Zionist? Probably. You will be ‎surprised how many other Zionist Muslims I came across there. So bring it on haters, bring it on. I will ‎stand at the front line for the chosen people. And after the smoke clears, we will cuddle and play board ‎games together while enjoying bourekas (ed., savory Israeli hand pies) and lemonade with mint.‎"

Farhana Rahman later posted about the reactions to her original post. She describes how she was ‎inundated with heartfelt messages of support on Facebook. Most interesting was that she says she did ‎not receive any negative messages. But this part was probably the most interesting one: ‎

‎"Here's the best part though. Muslim Zionists were the ones that sent me the most messages! Tons! ‎They hailed from many Arab countries, South Asian countries, and European countries. Each of them told ‎me of their efforts to spread the truth in their respective communities and social media. It gave me a lot ‎of comfort to know that the younger generations of educated Muslims are indeed stepping up. Our ‎efforts are but a drop in an ocean of madness, but it is something, and in time, over a few generations, it ‎will create a glorious ripple effect. I feel great about this. I love watching them band together to tackle ‎anti-Semites. The basic message they spread is that you can't say such things about Israel and her people ‎if you don't personally know—and you don't really know until you go!" Rahman wrote.‎

Rahman's message is strong, encouraging and heartwarming in all its exuberant love for Israel and its ‎people. There are also several important lessons in it. ‎

First, the importance of Muslims interacting directly with Israelis, coming to see the country and daring ‎to speak the truth about what they have seen and learned in their own words. Working for an Israeli ‎startup company, making Israeli friends on Facebook, and then meeting them in real life, clearly played a crucial role ‎in Rahman's experience and shows how important the element of human interaction is in delivering the ‎truth about Israel to the world. There is hardly any substitute for the direct and personal contact between ‎Israelis and Muslims in furthering this kind of understanding and it shows that there is an extremely ‎beneficial side to social media such as Facebook, despite the many problems it poses.

Second, it shows that it is possible to rise above the anti-Israeli and anti-Jewish bias that comes as part ‎of most Muslim environments and that fact in itself brings great hope, especially for future generations. ‎For that hope to materialize as reality, many more Muslims will have to come and see the reality for ‎themselves, of course, and many more Muslims who sympathize with Israel will have to find the ‎necessary courage to stand out from the crowd and speak up for truth and justice. When they do-may it ‎be sooner rather than later—they should know that their courage will be reciprocated with eternal ‎friendship from their Israeli friends. We in Israel know how to appreciate true friends.

Judith Bergman is a writer and political analyst living in Israel.






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