I was born into an Arab Muslim family in the Middle East, and although we didn’t have a direct conflict with Israel, we were taught from school, media and religion that Israel is our enemy and Jews are our eternal enemies. They’ve always said that our issue with Israel isn’t only because of the Israeli Palestinian conflict – it’s a religious hatred based on the teachings of God in Quran and Prophet Mohamed.
I didn’t really care a lot about this until I was 14, when the second intifada erupted. Pictures of Mohamed Aldora were everywhere, even in schools. At our school, the students were encouraged to protest against Israel in the school yard for days.
The school brought an Islamic cleric to give us a lecture about the situation between Israelis and Palestinians from an Islamic point of view. It was a boring, repetitive and emotional lecture about how awful Jews are, and he stated that Jews were turned into pigs and monkeys for violating God’s orders – that’s why it is legitimate to call them the grandchildren of pigs and monkeys. He talked about historical stories claiming that Jews harmed and betrayed Prophet Mohamed. He talked about the final war that will happen between Muslims and Jews in this place (Israel/Palestine), and that Muslims can’t wait till this war happen – all this hatred against Jews has been planned for centuries, and not only since Israel became a state. The cleric ended his lecture by asking us to raise our hands and he started praying to God to bring prosperity to Muslims around the world, so we said Amen, and he then asked God to bring destruction to Jews, Christians and non-Muslims (he called them infidels) and leave their wives widowed and their children orphans. I put my hand down, didn’t say Amen, and looked at all these teens while asking myself: are they okay with what he is saying?
Palestinians as well as Arabs and Muslims deny that there is any proof that there was a Jewish temple on the same site where Al Aqsa mosque is located today. They deny that Jewish people have the right to have a country although Quran itself shows that this was always a Jewish land. Schools maps don’t show the state of Israel – they show it only as Palestine. Officially we can’t express that Israel is a reality and a country. I feel sorry for the Israelis and Palestinians; I don’t know how such a conflict would be solved when everyone is making it very complex. I don’t hate Israelis and I see Israel as a legitimate country. I hope both people can cooperate with each other since they’re living next to each other. I hope Palestinians can learn from Israelis how to be strong and progressive.
I don’t know if Islam is the real issue. I left Islam because it made no sense to me, the hatred against everything and everyone who is different made me uncomfortable. I tried believing in Islam without this hatred but I ended up giving up entirely on it and only now I feel like I’m truly myself. I know that there are open-minded Muslims who don’t see Jews as their enemies, but the latest reaction that came from the Arabs and Muslims to the fires in Israel revealed only a little of how much hatred there is against Israel and Jewish people.
Rose is an Arab girl who happily works for a charity organization. She enjoys reading and writing. She believes in curiosity, doubt and change.