The Brave Muslim Supporters of Israel

Israel is entering a period of détente with several Muslim nations. On July 7, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu disclosed that he had a phone conversation with the leader of a Muslim African nation with which Israel currently does not have ties, and that the two promised to meet in person in the future. Dore Gold, Israeli Director of the Foreign Ministry, stated that there is a “strategic convergence” between the interests of Israel and the Sunni states, and that Israel has some form of contact with “almost every Arab state.” Turkey and Israel signed a reconciliation deal in late June.

On the societal level, several Muslims are openly opposing the anti-Israel sentiments of many of their co-religionists. These maverick Muslims are now bravely supporting Israel’s right to exist as a homeland for the Jewish people; a Koranic justification of such right; the unequivocal rejection of terrorism as a legitimate weapon against Israel; Israel’s right to defend itself against its mortal (and incidentally, Muslim) enemies; the rejection of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement; and rejection of common slanders against Israel. The following are several examples of brave Muslim supporters of Israel.

Naveed Anjum

Naveed Anjum was born in an Islamic country that will remain nameless for his protection. Given his upbringing, he harbored anti-Semitic and anti-Israel views. When in the Netherlands for academic studies, he met Jews and these interactions began to change his perceptions of Jews and Israel. Returning to his home country, he did further research and discovered that the Koran in fact states that the land of Israel belongs to the Jews. He wanted to publish a book on this in the United States and the United Kingdom, but did not have the financial resources to do so. Instead, he began to hand out pamphlets in his home country, but was met with harassment and was physically attacked and left with a dislocated shoulder. He fled his home country, eventually settling in Thailand via Cambodia and Laos. He now advocates for Israel and the Koranic justification of the Jews’ right to Israel on social media.

Noor Dahri

Noor Dahri was born in Pakistan and now lives in the United Kingdom. He studied counterterrorism in the International Institute for Counter Terrorism (ICT) in Herzliya, Israel. He called Zionism “an authentic national movement of the Jewish People,” and decided to become an advocate for the Zionist Federation in the UK to campaign for peace between Muslims and Jews, and to debate with and educate the Pakistani community about the Jewish people and Israel. He believes that Zionism is not against Islam, and rather Israel supports Islam within its borders, as evidenced by its 400 mosques, among other things. Dahri has defended Israel’s right to respond to Hamas rocket attacks in 2014, has advocated for Pakistan to recognize Israel, and has defended the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and their code of ethics.

Mr. Dahri also believes that the Koran supports the Jews’ return to Israel in the Koran (5:21): “O my people, enter the Holy Land which God has prescribed for you, and turn not back in your traces, to turn about losers.” He also cites British-based Imam Muhammad Al-Hussaini to argue that “traditional commentators from the 8th and 9th century onwards have uniformly interpreted the Qur’an to say explicitly that the Land of Israel has been given by God to the Jewish people as a perpetual covenant.”

Bassem Eid

Bassem Eid was born in the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem (which was occupied by Jordan at the time), and now lives in Jericho, administered by the Palestinian Authority. He is the current chairman of the Center for Near East Policy Research, and the former founder and director of the Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group. He founded this group after he left B’Tselem, a left-wing Israeli human rights organization, after B’Tselem refused to report on alleged human rights abuses by the Palestinian Authority, rather than just Israel.  

Mr. Eid has called for significant reforms of The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), including: the permanent resettlement of Palestinian refugees (he believes Palestinian aspirations for a “right of return” inside Israel are “unachievable”), the reform of its “war curriculum” that is “based on principles of jihad, martyrdom and right of return by force of arms,” and to fire UNRWA employees that have affiliations with Hamas. He recently asked Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai, who promised to share her money award with children living in Gaza, to give her money “in person” and not to Hamas or UNRWA.

He also opposes the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, and has received death threats from fellow Arabs for holding such a view. He calls the boycott of Jewish businesses in Judea and Samaria in particular “genocide for the Palestinian economy,” and notes that Palestinians lose their jobs as a result of boycotting the settlements. Mr. Eid also stated that Palestinians purchase goods from the settlements, and that there a large market for such goods among Palestinians.

Regarding Gaza/Israel relations, Mr. Eid remarked that Israel “is still feeding 1,800,000 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip…[and]…”is supplying food, medicines, and fuel…while 22 Arab leaders… do nothing… while watching the Israeli trucks bring supplies to Gaza. [Israel is] still feeding us Palestinians, and thanks to [Israel], we are surviving.”

Dr. M. Zuhdi Jasser

M. Zuhdi Jasser, a physician, former U.S. Navy officer whose parents fled Syria, is the CEO of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy (AIFD). One of AIFD’s “foundational values” is “support and unqualified recognition of the state of Israel and its right to exist behind secure borders as do all free nations.”

Dr. Jasser is on record for calling both Hamas and Fatah fascist. He also referred to the way American Islamists get much more angry about Israel’s war with Hamas versus the Syrian Civil War as “profound hypocrisy.” He also likened support for Hamas to a “drug addiction,” and called political Islam “the gateway drug.” He even stated:

I don’t believe Israel is a religious issue for Muslims. Hamas and other radical Islamic groups have propagandized the issues for decades and the latest conflict [the 2014 Israel/Gaza War] demonstrates that. It is constant warmongering. Hamas creates, starts these wars, commits acts of terror, and then uses the war as a platform to say all its grievances are Israel’s fault.

Dr. Jasser sees Hamas, a byproduct of the Muslim Brotherhood and its entrenched anti-Semitism, hate, and conspiracy theories as a symptom of global Islamism and its supremacism. In this way, Dr. Jasser sees Israel and the United States as primary targets of an “us versus them” demonization of non-Muslims by Islamists. Dr. Jasser believes that the only way to end that false and supremacist narrative is to finally end the idea of any “Islamic” state, Hamas or otherwise, and its attendant allegiance, jihad, and military allegiance against non-Muslims. For that reason Dr. Jasser's work focuses on a full-throated defense of the modern liberal secular state and defeat of Islamist theocracy.

Sheikh Abdul Hadi Palazzi

Sheikh Abdul Hadi Palazzi was born into a secular Muslim family in Italy. He later became a pupil of the Mufti of Cairo, Muhammad al-Mutawali as-Sha’rawi, who had advised Egyptian president Anwar al-Sadat to make peace with Israel. He opposes the Wahhabi strain of Islam and argues that Wahhabism is responsible for much of the Israel hatred in the Arab world. He supports Israeli settlers in the West Bank, argues that Israel should exert sovereignty over the territory, and even that Israel should build the Third Temple in Jerusalem. He defends this position by also stating, as do others mentioned in this article, that the Koran supports a return of the Jews to the land of Israel (5:21), and that “[i]n opposing the will of God and making war on Israel, Arabs are in effect making war on Allah Himself.”

Farhana Rahman

Farhana Rahman is the Director of Communications of ZCast, a mobile podcasting app, as well as the CEO of TechShmooze, an online marketing agency for Israeli tech startups. A proud Muslim, one of her professional goals is to help facilitate young Jews to successfully move to Israel by giving them work experience in the tech field. Ms. Rahman proclaims herself a Muslim Zionist, and penned a touching poem to this effect. She has been featured in numerous speaking engagements, panels, and radio shows across the United States. When visiting Israel, she selflessly chose not to go to al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem because local Muslims gave her Jewish friends “mean glares” near the site. She has publically denounced the “Israel is an apartheid state” canard, and participates in fundraisers for the IDF and victims of terrorist attacks.

Raheel Raza

Raheel Raza fled Pakistan in the late 1970s along with her husband out of fear of the spread of the Wahhabi Saudi strain of Islam. She now lives in Canada, and is the president and founder of the Council for Muslims Facing Tomorrow. In fact, she came up with the name of the organization from the Israeli Presidential Conference -- Facing Tomorrow, which is hosted by Shimon Peres and which she has attended four times. (She has visited Israel at least seven times). With regard to Israel, she has publicly supported Israel’s right to exist, opposes boycotting it, and views Israeli Apartheid Week on college campuses as an expression of anti-Semitism. She called Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood, al-Qaeda, and Hizb’allah “subversive.” She has also condemned the June 2016 terrorist attacks in Sarona Market, Tel Aviv that left four dead and 15 wounded as stemming from “a murderous, radical, Islamist ideology, which wants to create war in the world.”

Mayor Ali Salem

Ali Salem, the mayor of Nazareth, interrupted a live interview of a fellow Muslim Israeli Arab (Knesset member Ayman Odeh, leader of the Joint List)). In what the Washington Free Beacon described as a “startling display of prime time street theatre,” Salem heckled Odeh from his car, telling him to leave Nazareth and go to Haifa, and that Odeh’s stance on the recent incitement and violence against Israelis was “destroying” Nazareth. Salem also criticized Arab members of Knesset for their participation in violent protests, stating that “they are destroying our future, they are destroying co-existence.”

Mohammad Zoabi

Mohammad Zoabi, who defines himself as a “proud Israeli Zionist Arab Muslim,” was a former resident of Nazareth, Israel. He became famous in Israel for posting a YouTube clip calling for Hamas to return three kidnapped Jewish Israelis (who were later found murdered). In response, his cousin, Israeli Knesset member Hanin Zoabi (Joint List), who had appeared to justify those kidnappings, called Mohammad “a stupid boy with a twisted identity who feels a continuous need to apologize to his strong masters.”

But Mohammad would not be silenced. On YouTube, seamlessly translating himself between English, Hebrew, and Arabic and with an Israeli flag beside him, Mohammad responded to his heinous cousin by calling her a “terrorist,” “a traitor,” and “an abuser of the democratic system of Israel.” Later in the clip, he said that “I have a summer vacation now, and I am frickin’ ready to work so I [can] get you the money you need to get you the hell out of Israel.” Ironically, it is he, not his infamous cousin, who now lives outside of Israel. Facing death threats, his pro-Israel advocacy forced him to go into hiding, first at the home of Kay Wilson, an Israeli terror victim, and then outside the country entirely. Several Israelis have expressed hope that he returns to take his cousin’s seat in the Knesset.  

Sarah Zoabi

Sarah Zoabi, who defines herself as an “Arab, Muslim, Israeli, proud Zionist,” is the mother of Mohammad Zoabi. She stated that she is a Zionist because she believes in the Jews’ right to a homeland in the land of Israel. Regarding Arab rights in Israel, she stated that “compared to… Arab countries, we live in paradise.” She has also opposed Arab incitement against Israel, including the age-old, oft-repeated false claim that Israel is seeking to destroy the al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. She even called on the attorney general of Israel to investigate some of the Arab members of Knesset for inciting violence. Regarding Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, she stated that “[n]o one is perfect, but he is as close to perfect as you will find.”


Israel’s détente with several of its Muslim neighbors is a positive development in the region. However, true lasting peace will come only when the greater Muslim world accepts the right of Israel to exist within secure borders as a state for the Jewish People. Arab despots have long used Israel as a scapegoat for and to detract from the pervasive socioeconomic problems plaguing the Arabs. Palestinians have been taught the same as their leaders refused numerous times to accept statehood since 1937. With many of those despots now deposed or losing power, hopefully the local population will begin to awake to the fact that Israel is not the source of its problems. This may create fertile ground for the worldviews of the above individuals to take root, fundamentally changing the prospects for peace.

The author would like to thank Naveed Anjum, Noor Dahri, Bassem Eid, Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, Farhana Rahman, Raheel Raza, and Stephen Suleyman Schwartz for their assistance in writing this article. 

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