Andrea Zanardo
The Zionist Rabbi your friends warned you about

“From the River to the Sea”, Yachad?

Question. Who is Imam Abdullah Antepli? Answer. Depending on whom you ask.

Suppose you ask the thugs of Electronic Intifada. In that case, Imam Antepli is a traitor of the Palestinian cause, a champion of Faithwashing, a promoter of Islamophobia, and the Israeli Army sponsors him.

Look then on the website of the Shalom Hartman Institute, a well know Liberal Zionist institution. You’ll see that Dr Antepli is on the faculty at Duke University, where he also served as the first Muslim chaplain. He is also the Co-Director of the Muslim Leadership Initiative (MLI), at the Hartman Institute. MLI program invites North American Muslims to explore how Jews understand Israel and Jewish peoplehood through classes and seminars in the USA and Israel. Bringing American Muslim leaders in Israel to study together with American Jews: that’s wonderful (for me) and horrific (for the antisemites). Hence the accusation of Faithwashing from Electronic Intifada, the supporter of the conspiracy theorist David Miller. 

In other words, Dr Imam Abdullah Antepli is a champion of Interfaith activity and, of course, a supporter of the Two States Solution. You may want to listen from the very voice of Dr Imam Abdullah Antepli, and I suggest you an interview by Bari Weiss in the last episode of the remarkable podcast Honestly .

You’ll hear how his condemnation of antisemitism in the Muslim community and his rebuke of the Occupation. You’ll learn how he considers it imperative for Muslims to understand the point of view of mainstream American Jewry regarding Israel, but at the same time for the Jewish community to understand Palestinians’ suffering.

I earnestly invite you to listen to the whole interview. You may disagree, but you cannot but admire Dr. Antepli courage and sincerity. Towards the end of the interview (at 55:00ish), you’ll hear this man, who had been an antisemite in the past, explaining how the slogan “From the River to the Sea / Palestine will be free” is both genocidal and antisemitic. 

As we know, UK Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi agrees. In a recent interview, he has explained that, in his view, students who sing the chant mentioned above should be investigated by the police because of their “antisemitic, intolerant, murderous attitude.”

Enter Hanna Weisfeld, “Director of Yachad, the UK’s pro-Israel, pro-peace movement” (as if all the other organizations were pro-war?). From her Twitter account, she informs that “From the River to the Sea is not a police matter and attempting to criminalize it is dangerous for everyone […] Suggesting it is a Hamas slogan implies the only intention of those who say that phrase is to inflict terror and harm on Israelis and Jews.”  

It’s safe to say that Weisfeld and Antepli disagree. 

So we have a conundrum. Is Hannah Weisfeld telling us that the Muslim co-director of the Muslim Leadership Initiative at the Shalom Hartman Institute aims to criminalize those Palestinians who believe that the land of Israel-Palestine should be one democratic state? In other words, is Hannah Weisfeld on the same side of Electronic Intifada? 

If so, I am confused. Was not Yachad in favor of the Two States solution? Have they now changed and embraced the One-State project (with Jews as a minority)? How comes the director of a pro-Israel organization deems acceptable a slogan that a learned Muslim authority defines as antisemitic and genocidal? 

I think that those British Jews who have believed in Yachad’s sincerity in supporting the Two States solution deserve now an explanation. I know that Yachad does not represent all the Jewish supporters of the Two States solution, but a sizeable part of them is happy for Yachad to exist and to have a voice. It would be surprising to learn that such a voice is out of sync on serious matters, such as a slogan that deserves police investigation. Clarifications are needed.

Nu, Hannah, whose side are you on? 

About the Author
Italian by birth, Israeli by choice, Rabbi of the largest synagogue in Sussex (UK). Uncompromising Zionist.
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