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The Egyptian-born anti-Islamic activist Nonie Darwish, whose life story and outspoken views on Israel and the Arab world make her someone Jews should support, was unfairly tarred in Tablet

David Horowitz
July 07, 2011
Spencer Platt/Getty Images
Protesters in front of the Israeli Consulate in New York.Spencer Platt/Getty Images
Spencer Platt/Getty Images
Protesters in front of the Israeli Consulate in New York.Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Tablet Magazine has published a bizarre attack by Jeremy Seth Davis on an incredibly brave Arab defender of Israel and the Jews. Nonie Darwish is the daughter of an Egyptian general who was chief of intelligence for Gamel Abdel Nasser when Gaza was part of Egypt and the West Bank had been annexed by Jordan and nobody referred to Arabs as “Palestinians.” Darwish’s family lived in Gaza, and her father created the Fedayeen, the first terrorist organization dedicated to the murder of Jews and the destruction of the Jewish state. Her father was responsible for the murder of numerous Israeli civilians before he was killed by the Israeli Defense Forces in a targeted assassination. At the time, Nonie was 8 years old.

In her memoir Now They Call Me Infidel, Darwish describes how she was brought up in a Muslim Arab culture of hate, which was directed against Jews, and how she gradually freed herself from this culture and came to understand that it was the very hatred she had been taught, which was unjustly directed against the Jews, that had killed her father. A particularly compelling incident she relates concerns her brother’s decision to check himself into an Israeli hospital to be treated for a burst appendix rather than go to a Arab hospital in Gaza, where they lived. Even though he was the son of a terrorist whom the Israelis had killed, her brother trusted his life with the Jews rather than with his fellow Arabs. This decision taught his younger sister that the demonic image of the Jews that had been instilled in her as a small child was false—a travesty of the reality. This is what led her to turn against the Muslim/Arab culture of hate and to found an organization she called Arabs for Israel, dedicated to defending the Jews from the genocidal campaign that her own people were waging.

For this sin, Jeremy Seth Davis has attacked her as a renegade and an “apostate” comparable to those Jews in the Middle Ages who converted to Christianity to join in the attack on their fellow Jews. Merely to state Davis’ thesis is to refute it. The Jews of the Middle Ages were tiny minorities, forced to live in hostile Christian societies that regarded them as God-killers. They were burned at the stake for refusing to convert to Christianity, and entire communities were expelled from countries they had resided in for centuries on the grounds they were a poisonous presence who could no longer be tolerated. There are a million and a half Arabs who are Israeli citizens with more rights as Israelis than Arabs enjoy in 22 Arab states. There are 300 million Arabs living in those states, and 1.5 billion Muslims living in 57 Muslim states in the world today. Jews are a tiny minority occupying .02 percent of the land mass of the Middle East. They are among the most isolated and persecuted peoples on the face of the earth. Even in America the number of official hate crimes against Jews is nearly 10 times greater than hate crimes against Muslims.

In the Middle East, the head of the Islamic Republic of Iran has called for the extermination of the Jews, a sentiment met with no noticeable dissent by the leaders of any other Muslim state. In Gaza, the leader of Hamas has warned Jews “you are headed for annihilation,” and in Lebanon, the leader of Hezbollah has expressed his hope that Jews will all gather in Israel so he won’t have to hunt them down globally. On its official TV programs and in its public schools, the Palestinian Authority lionizes terrorists who have murdered innocent women and children merely because they are Jews. Leaders of the Palestinian Authority—not to mention Hamas—publicly call for the “liberation” of Palestine “from the river to the sea”—which is today’s code for the original Arab war cry: “Push the Jews into the sea.”

In the context of this genocidal campaign to solve the Jewish problem by getting rid of the Jews, Nonie Darwish travels to college campuses to defend the Jews and to warn others about the dangers of Muslim and Arab Jew-hatred. When she arrives she is verbally attacked and physically threatened by members of the campus left and most venomously by members of the Muslim Students Association, which is an arm of the Muslim Brotherhood and the sponsor of campus outrages that libel Israel as an “apartheid state” that has allegedly “stolen” the land of a (fictional) Palestinian state. (Like Syria, Jordan, and Lebanon, Israel was created on land that had belonged to the Turks, who are not Arabs let alone Palestinians, for 400 years before the creation of the Jewish state.)

Davis finds admirable these assaults on a middle-aged Arab woman for having the temerity to defend the Jews. In his rendering they are an understandable response to her “apostasy”—as though she were a religious heretic when in fact she is merely someone who has the decency and the courage to be outraged by the fanatical Jew hatred publicly expressed by her Muslim and Arab compatriots.

If Davis wants a parallel to the Jewish defenders of Jew-hating Christians in the Middle Ages, it is those Jews who have joined the genocidal coalition of Arabs and Muslims intent on destroying the Jewish state. These are the Jews who have joined the flotilla to Gaza organized by the Muslim Brotherhood to break the blockade against arms shipments to the Hamas terrorists who have sworn to “obliterate” Israel and to “annihilate” the Jews. These are the Jews who join the Muslim Brotherhood organizations on college campuses in obstructing the speeches and threatening the safety of speakers like Darwish, who are defenders of the Jewish state. They are also, it happens, opponents of the oppression of women and gays and other minorities in Islamic states, which is why writers like Davis refer to them as “anti-Muslim.”

Jeremy Seth Davis writes as though it was a negative commentary on Nonie that she is supported by conservatives or that her defense of free speech, women’s rights, gay rights, and Jews in the face of Muslim attacks mirrors comments made by conservatives. A better question to ask is why aren’t liberals and progressives supporting Nonie, and defending these victims of Muslim attacks?

Correction: This article has been amended to remove an inaccurate reference to 1956 Egypt.

David Horowitz is the president of the David Horowitz Freedom Center and the author of Unholy Alliance: Radical Islam and the American Left. He recently published A Cracking of the Heart, a memoir about his daughter.