I have been told by some of my Jewish friends that I, an atheist Arab, should consider myself an honorary Jew. At first, I wasn’t sure what to think. Were they suggesting that I should convert?
I realized very quickly that this wasn’t the case at all. My Jewish friends were simply appreciative of my strong support for the Jewish state and its right to defend itself. No one was expecting me to convert or even to refrain from reasonable criticism.
I have never been called an honorary Muslim, an honorary Christian, an honorary Hindu, or an honorary Buddhist, and yet I fully support the rights of Saudi Arabia, Italy, India, and Thailand to exist and defend themselves!
Being called an honorary Jew for supporting Israel is a testament to the remarkable importance of Israel to Jews, and it is a reminder of the global hostility towards Israel. No other nation holds as much importance for a single religious group, no other nation faces extreme and daily threats to its very existence, and no other nation is hated by so many people, particularly by people who barely know anything about it.
Antisemitism is a growing problem, fueled by ignorance, hate, and stupidity, and yet governments seem unable to stop it. When Jews find a non-Jew who gives their beloved nation the benefit of the doubt, and who admires its many accomplishments despite the trendy and deluded anti-Israel rhetoric, they see that person as a great friend.
The truth, however, is that I deserve no special honour. I said recently in an interview on Voice of Israel that being an Arab I have a responsibility to support Israel, as does every Arab who lives in a country that grants him or her the freedom to speak. We Arabs have for too long unfairly opposed the right of Israel to exist, and we have a debt to pay to reverse that injustice.
I love Israel. I love reading, talking, and writing about Israel. And why wouldn’t I? Israel is the place in the Middle East where Arabs have the most freedoms and opportunities, and it is the only place in the Middle East where the social liberal values that I cherish (LGBT rights, women’s rights, and freedom of conscience) are respected.
I am not Jewish, honorary or otherwise, but I sincerely appreciate the compliment.