I Stand By Mohammed Zoabi

What kind of a world do we live in, where a teenage boy has to fear members of his own family just because he spoke out against the kidnapping of other teenage boys? In what perverted reality can a Knesset representative, or any person call her teenage cousin ‘sleazy’ just because he expressed political opinions different from her own?
In a world that made more sense the opinions expressed by Mohammed Zoabi in his now-famous Youtube video would not be extraordinary. A sixteen year old boy should not have to worry about being brave when exercising basic human decency.

And yet the events following Mohammed’s video upload have proven that it was an extraordinarily brave act, and even more impressively, he is continuing to be brave in the face of a horrifying reaction to his video upload.

Mohammed’s cousin, MK Hanin Zoabi, in an interview where she justified the recent kidnapping of three Israeli teenagers by terrorists, made remarks attacking her young cousin and his entire side of the family, referring to his parents as ‘divorced’ and calling him ‘sleazy.’ She has also called him ‘stupid’ and accused him of having a ‘twisted identity.’ For a politician to make personal attacks on not only a private citizen, but a minor and a family member, is shocking, disgusting, and undignified.

Being attacked verbally by a family member who is in the Knesset is bad enough, but the Israeli police are reporting that they have arrested three other relatives of Mohhamed for threatening his person over the video. A teenager was physically threatened by his own family for not supporting the kidnapping of other teenagers. This is sick.

Through all of this ugliness, Mohammed is bravely standing his ground. He has reported that he has received numerous death threats, and is therefore going to keep a low profile. But he also continued to express his support for the three missing teenagers and for the state of Israel.

I echo the call of Coalition Chairman Yariv Levin to provide extra security to Mohammed Zoabi in this difficult time. I also wish to tell Mohammed that just as he supports and stands by the kidnapped students, I, and hopefully many others moved by his bravery and goodness, stand by him.

May Eyal Yifrah, Naftali Frenkel, and Gil-Ad Shaer be returned to their families safely and swiftly. And may this world become a place where people like Mohammed Zoabi feel safe to speak their minds.

About the Author
Gary Willig is a researcher at the Center for Near East Policy Research and a student of communications at Bar Ilan University
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