Muhammad Zoabi, 16, an Arab Muslim from Nazareth, is causing anger in Muslim circles, and considerable joy in Jewish ones, by stating in a unique interview that he is a Zionist and loves the state of Israel.
"I really believe that I'm a lucky Arab and a lucky human being and a lucky Middle Eastern[er] that I was born in this little tiny piece of land!”, he stated. Pointing to the Golan Heights from the window of his interviewer's home, in the Israeli community of Massad, he noted how bad life is beyond the border, for Syrians.
Muhammad's enthusiastic Zionism is made all the more intriguing by the fact that he is related to notorious anti-Zionist MK Hanin Zoabi, of the Arab-nationalist Balad party.
People in Syria are being killed because they want freedom, Muhammad said. but in Israel, he explained to interviewer Susan Deane Taylor-Gol, “we are living freedom, freedom is our life! No one can take our freedom... We're the hope in the region. I think that if the Syrians and the Egyptians, and the Lebanese and the Jordanians and all of our neighbors want to have a really democratic life, they should come to us, and they are more than welcome!”
Zoabi explained that it is not easy to be a Muslim Zionist. He said that “the bad sides” of Arab culture have taken control of the society, that he has been attacked several times for his views, and that some people call him a traitor, or even “a Jew.” He added with a smile that he cannot understand how people could see the word “Jew” as an insult, when the Jews only recently emerged from a situation in which they were being ruthlessly slaughtered, to one in which they are “one of the smartest and strongest nations in the world.”
Not one for half-measures, Muhammad declared that Israel should force its Arab citizens to go to the army – or at the very least carry out alternative national service. “And I am sure that most of the Jews are accepting us,” he added, “because the Jews are a great nation and they always accept others, always.”
MK Hanin Zoabi (Balad) responded to Muhammad's pro-Israel Facebook page and video by saying that “the state of Israel has trained him into obedience. Sometimes, the oppressed identifies with the oppressor because he lacks pride and political awareness.”
Muhammad is unfazed by such statements and vows to “stand with the Jewish people until the last day of my life.”