Let’s start at the very beginning. I used to hate religion and politics when I was in high school, which is just as well because no matter how open-minded I have always been, I have always been a little zealous. It wasn’t until I took a philosophy class around 2007 that I took more interest in the world around me. Of course I never have the money to do any travelling or anything, so next best thing was the internet…and social media.
It actually started with online Bible study (I grew up in a Christian home), and yet one day I found myself wanting to explore other faiths – even agnosticism. I came across an advertisement of a Facebook page called Americans Against Islamophobia. Naive and curious as I was, I clicked on it, and took interest in their cause. Quickly I learned about Middle Eastern Politics and how it has been affecting even the West…unfortunately little did I know I was learning about it the way the Muslim Brotherhood wanted me to learn such subjects.
Which leads me to the Israel-Palestine conflict. Since I have always been against bullying, I quickly (and in hindsight, stupidly) supported the anti-Israel movement. This went on from around 2009 to mid 2013. In the summer of 2013 I converted to Islam. I quickly noticed my new friends praising Hamas for attacking civilians, and claiming that these attacks were justified on moral and even religious grounds. A friend posted a Quranic verse stating that during wartime, no innocents such as elderly, children and women are to be harmed. So I asked why would Hamas shoot rockets at civilian areas instead of dealing with the combatants (IDF) head on. All I got were excuses: “They are colonizers, invaders..” the usual that I get even to this day.
One day I read a Times of Israel article written by Hen Mazzig recalling his experience with the anti-Israel community. I was displeased – not with Hen, but with those within our movement. I mean, what sort of pro Palestine activist would get mad at the IDF for not raping Palestinian women? Even when I expressed my displeasure, some others danced around that issue, dismissing his account entirely. Once again, I chose to go with it, but with a questioning mind.
Over time I noticed more holes in their propaganda. For example, a video with a title implying the IDF beat up Palestinian girl, while the actual footage showed said IDF soldier simply dragging a Palestinian teen because she would not cooperate.
This questioning continued. One of my former close friends went to the region shortly after I converted and I made plans to follow in her footsteps. Even though I admired and loved her dearly and followed her posts, I kept wondering if I was becoming a secret Zionist!
Around October of that year, I decided to seek out Zionists. My purpose initially was to engage with them and maybe even listen to their side of the story. I ended up joining groups that had both sides in it, many of them pro two state solution groups. I met some new people, debated with some and even befriended them. I actually remember once stating that Zionism does not belong in Israel, out of ignorance as to what the true nature of Zionism is! I was corrected swiftly and I had no real argument.
Over time I made quite a few Zionist friends, mostly liberal Zionists (many of whom I am still friends with now), as well as Palestinians who do support Israel despite everything. One of the prominent figures in Zionism that I always admired and even still admire now was Rabbi Froman, a “settler” in the Judea and Samaria region who sought peace with his Arab neighbors until he passed away. Some of my anti-Israel friends did not like what I had been sharing. My former close friend told me once that supporting peace is like supporting apartheid. Obviously that never made any lick of sense. Eventually I lost her as a friend and she blocked me by the end of the year. I was saddened but I moved on.
By the new year, with great credit to my new friends, I became comfortable with the term Zionist and slowly started to come out, per se. I became a two state solution supporter. I lost some “friends” but gained great new ones.
I have come to see that the BDS movement has no interest in peace – they bully and even threaten celebrities to join their false cause. The more I have seen this, and the more I have engaged with my new friends, the more things have made sense. I also have family members who support Israel, so I have been talking with them – like my cousin who was in the Middle East during his time served in the military. He witnessed the Arabs making their children go out into a war zone and actually fight. Need I mention that I learned how the IDF goes out of their way to avoid civilian casualties, or even that Israeli hospitals treat terrorists and their families?
As I mentioned, I converted to Islam. I sought out Muslim supporters of Israel and followed them quickly. I learned that the Quran and scriptures support the Jews, regardless of skin color, returning to the land they have rightful ties to.
I also follow journalists like Corey Gil Shuster, who are showing the world that many Arabs love Israelis and want peace. Those such as Muhammad Zoabi, Sara Zoabi, Naveed Anjum, and liberal as well as conservative Zionists have taught me much and have inspired me a great deal.
Over time, after reading story after story about terrorist attacks and how more people of the cult praise even the murders of innocent civilians, my Zionism, while still spiritual/religious in nature, has shifted into the right-wing spectrum. So much so, that I now understand the reasoning of even the most controversial within the movement. The only two state solution I support involves a Palestinian state in Jordan.
I wonder what would have happened had I gone against my instincts and followed through with my plans. I am glad I did not and decided to get the other side of the story instead. Zionism opened up new doors for me for that, I’m truly blessed.
Felicia converted to Islam in the summer of 2013. Also a huge supporter of Islamic Reform. Anti-Zionist during the years 2009-2013. Presently a staunch Zionist. Hobbies include primarily gaming and reading.