I first met young Mr. Mohammad Zoabi on Facebook while I was browsing around among comments on video interviews made by Corey Gil Schuster and his ”Ask an Israeli/ Ask a Palestinian” project.
Most of the comments by Arabs on these video interviews appeared very hostile towards Israel. However I also found comments by one Arab who seemed to love his country Israel. I decided to contact him to find out who was really behind this Facebook profile. Very soon I understood that this was a very bright and brave guy with a pure heart filled of love for Israel, the people and the Jewish society around him.
Mohammad is soon to be 16 years old and comes from an Israeli Muslim family in the northern part of Israel.
I interviewed him a few months earlier about his desire to one day join the Israeli Defense Forces and about how it comes he is an Israeli online activist for Israel.
In the same time as he is a proud Israeli he is also proud to be Arab. He says he thinks it should be normal for Israeli Arabs to call themselves Israelis and take more part in the Israeli society.
After my interview with him was published on the webpage of the Swedish pro-Israel network Perspektiv på Israel (Perspective on Israel) a lot of things changed. Mohammad received a lot of Israeli support from both Jews and Arabs.
Mohammad has moved from his previous Arab school in the north of Israel to what Mohammad calls an Israeli Jewish school and I want to ask him how he feels about this change. I also want to ask him what he has to say about the political situation right now in the Middle East regarding the Iranian threat.
When I call him it is in the middle of Hanukkah and he is not at the school but in some Arab village. I can hear a rooster in the background while we are talking.
– Mohammad my last interview with you was on Jews News the biggest Jewish facebook page and over one million people could read the interview with you there. Some Israelis might however be familiar with your family name even before that, how come?
-I think the name is known these days by most Israelis because of the MK Haneen Zoabi (Balad) who is unfortunately not a great representative of our family. She may represent some part of our family which agree with her but not all in our family agree with her.
Also one of the first members of the Knesset was from my family. However an elderly person in my family who knows a lot of stuff about my family’s history told me that originally my family, the Zoabi family, came from the Arabian desert which is today’s Saudi Arabia.
So when you hear that Palestinians and pro-Palestinians say that Israel is the Palestinian land what do you say to them?
– The first thing I want to say to them is before they claim that this land is not for the Jews but is for them only they should learn about their own history. They should learn about it because Saudi Arabia used to be called Arabia and any normal person can understand it comes from the word Arab and that means that Arabs long time ago only used to live in Arabia. Then Arabs immigrated to other parts and in one of the part of their immigration they came to the land of Israel.
– You have told me that you are living your dream right now in Israel what is that about?
– Well I used to go to an Israeli Arab school which of course is an Israeli school.The difference between an Israeli Arab school and an Israeli Jewish school is not the subjects. We learn the same Mathematics, Biology and so on but the anti-Israel brainwashing that is being spread in the Israeli Arab schools is just so shameful. I am sick of all the negative brainwashing from the Arab schools.
Being Arab does not mean we are not Israelis. We are Israelis. It means we should not learn about the Nakba Day. We are not supposed to learn that the Israeli Army is our enemy and that it is not protecting us. We should not learn that Israeli Jews are occupiers in this land. We should not learn that this land is only for us Arabs. The land of Israel is for Jews and all the people who live in it but on one condition: We should not deny that this land is the state of the Jews, the state of Israel.
Since I was very young I have been demanding my mum to send me to a Jewish school and thank God recently I registered for an Israeli Jewish boarding school not far from Tel Aviv and I was accepted. I feel so happy about that. I am happy first of all because I am an Israeli and I now have the right to learn about my country’s history and what is great about my country. I am happy to get a true Israeli education.
Secondly I am happy to study here because this school is a great example for the Israeli society. This school has Arab Muslims, Jews, Christians, Druze, Jews from Europe, Jews from Asia. It has everything. We even have four Eritrean migrants studying in classes with the Israelis and they live with us.
– In your class you are the only Arab and Muslim. Have you ever felt that you were treated differently because you are not Jewish among the other students?
– I have been in this school for less than a month and I already have a dozen of friends and most of them are Jews. I’ve never ever felt during the time in this school that I am discriminated against or that I felt different because I am an Arab and not Jewish. When we discuss the Israeli-Palestinian conflict what makes me happy is that people here in this school consider me as one of them and not as a Palestinian. All the people I have met here they look at me first of all as a human, secondly as an Israeli human.
In the true Israeli openminded society we accept everyone, he adds. We do not discriminate anyone because of their religion, backgrounds, their sexual preferences, their sex. We do not have that here in Israel. That is what make Israel so special in the Middle East because we got over this behavior of discrimination long time ago.
As we start to talk about the Iranian nuclear program and the death threats against Israel from the Iranian leadership, Mohammad admits that people around him feel worried about these things but that the fear of being killed by enemies to Israel is something Israelis are used to. He says for 66 years there have been constant threats about being attacked and killed however still Israel is alive and the only stable country in a Middle East that is on fire. Mohammad continues to explain that this awareness has made the Israeli people experts on how to act in case of a disaster or terrorist attacks and that many countries look up to Israel today when it comes to handling crises and saving lives.
Iran is a real threat against Israel he feels and he says there is a real fear among Israelis that Iran will destroy and remove Israel.
-Look at the Iranian president he is calling for the death of the Jewish state and the death of the US. How come that America agrees on improving relations with a regime that calls for its destruction? If Iran so truly wanted to live in peace with the Western world and Israel, Israel would be the first country to participate in a peace agreement.
Mohammad explains that Israel has already proven that Israel is always ready for peace. The proof is all the peace agreements that Israel has kept with Jordan and Egypt and the still ongoing negotiations with the Palestinian Authority.
Finally I ask Mohammad what he would say to the leaders of the European Union on their new agreement with Iran.
– I would like to say how come that the European Union agrees to have talks with an extremist regime that calls for terrorism and calls for killing other people just because they are not Muslims? How can the European Union have a dialogue with Iran that supports the Syrian leadership that has been killing innocent Syrians and has made millions of people refugees just because they wanted to live in freedom and live in a developed and democratic country?
The EU is trying to solve the situation in Syria while it is helping one of the sides that is making the Syrian situation even worse! I do not understand this. My message to the European Union and its politicians is: Shame on you seriously.